Welcome to September

Hello, September! It’s been a long hot summer! Kids are back in school finally! (Insert happy dance here.) We’re joining support groups in preparation for the Pumpkin Spice Latte season. We’re walking by Halloween and Christmas aisles already out and scratching our heads in confusion. It’s Fall y’all! Let the fun begin!

Our feature artist for September is the fabulous Ruth Sanderson. Ruth has drawn six exclusive images for us! We also have images from artists Gillian Adams, Ivette Ramos Levy, Katherine Simpson, Marty Woods, and Shelly Eartha Simpson.

Huge shout out to our Color On! team Alex Whisman, Kim Bussey, Larry Pierce, Melissa Pierce, and Travis Baribeau! Thank you for all you do!


A Chat with Ruth Sanderson

Our feature artist for September is the fabulous Ruth Sanderson. Ruth has drawn six exclusive images for us!

What made you decide to become a coloring book artist?

I was invited by Fairy Magazine in early 2016 to contribute to a coloring book, Winged Beauty, along with a number of other fantasy illustrators. When I began to create the pen and ink pictures of fairies, I enjoyed it so much I decided to do a fairy coloring book myself. After creating a small limited edition and selling through my website, I decided to go with Amazon’s Create Space print-on-demand publishing for a wider distribution, and The World of Fairies was launched in December 2016. I loved this new coloring book art world so much, and so enjoyed connecting with fans and colorists, that I just wanted to keep going and create more books.

I love cats, and decided my next book would have a cat theme…and so I began sketches for Fantastic Cats,— from simple Zentangle-like patterned cats to elaborate cats dressed in Elizabethan garb. Around that time I saw a few of my own paintings, probably taken from Pinterest,  grayscaled, colored, and posted on coloring groups. (Happily most groups don’t allow this, and educate people about artist’s rights.) I did politely point out to the individuals that they should not do this without the artist’s permission. That same artist might want to create a book of grayscale images….Hmm… After searching on Amazon I saw that people were indeed creating grayscale coloring books, mostly from nature photos, but also from paintings and drawings. I thought to myself—my elaborate oil paintings would be really fun to color if converted to grayscale!

And so after a great deal of work carefully adjusting my paintings for grayscale coloring, the Beautiful Fairytales series was born, based on my fairy tale picture books for children, starting with The Twelve Dancing Princesses, Cinderella, and Goldilocks in the first six months of 2017, with more titles planned in the future. And now I am finally back to finishing  the line drawings for Fantastic Cats, which hopefully should be released in time for this issue, or soon after.

How do you create your art? Do you create your drawings by computer or do you prefer old school pencil and paper?  

For the line art books, I use Copic, Sakura, and Micron technical pens in various widths. I do a detailed pencil drawing first, tape a piece of smooth Bristol paper over it, tape that to a light tablet, and then draw the final black lines. I work larger than the finished book –about 10″x13″ or so. I scan the finished line drawings, then adjust and and clean them up in Photoshop.

My grayscale coloring books are usually created by carefully adjusting the high resolution scans of my oil paintings, to suit being colored with colored pencils.. It took a full month and 5 proofs to adjust and test-color the images in the first book! (Twelve Dancing Princesses) I discovered it is best to have the images a bit on the light side so the gray does not overpower the colors, especially in faces. Rich bright colors work very nicely over gray. For Goldilocks, I included the detailed pencil drawings I created for the original picture book, along with some fully grayscaled images from the paintings.

What is your inspiration for the different types of art that you create for your coloring books?

As I mentioned, the grayscale books are versions of my own paintings— mainly my fairy tale illustrations for children. My style is really not just for kids—I paint to please myself, and hope others like my vision and style, which I’d label as “Romantic Realism.” Many adults collect my picture books for the artwork, and a number of women have designed their wedding dresses around my princess costumes.

The main influences for my illustration style are the English Pre-Raphaelite painters, and illustrators like Maxfield Parrish and N.C. Wyeth. Like those artists, I am a traditional oil painter. I also create a great deal of Christmas art—I have been doing the annual holiday plate for Lenox for many years and license my Christmas art on tins, puzzles, greeting cards, etc. My Santa’s Christmas coloring book is comprised of 24 images of holiday art that I carefully converted to grayscale, and includes artwork from my Night Before Christmas picture book. (I sell the only available copies on my website as it is currently out of print.) I like to create Christmas pictures that look very traditional and nostalgic.

For my line art style I do look at the work of other pen and ink artists, but my style is my own. I love narrative art—pictures that tell a story—and my preference is creating realistic-looking pictures with a lot of ornate detail. I want my Victorian cats having tea to look like they could just walk off the page. I am also branching out, creating some designs that have a Zentangle or Mandala influence, as the decorative shapes in those styles lend themselves well to coloring with practically an endless variety of colors, and people seem to find them relaxing and stress-relieving. I included pictures in various styles and levels of complexity for Fantastic Cats.

Do you ever color your own work? And if so, what’s your favorite medium? Do you like pencils, markers or are you dipping into random reserves around the house for anything that can apply color in an interesting fashion?

 I’ve always been a fan of Prismacolor pencils, and I use both the Premiers and the Verithins. I just bought a fine white gel pen, a tip from colorists, and I am having fun  playing with that. Some folks love markers, but I’m not a fan of them, especially for grayscale. I have also discovered that blending pencils do not work well on grayscale. I either burnish with the lightest pencil of each color, or use Gamsol, odorless mineral spirits. Recently I created a series of five step-by-step colored pencil tutorials for one of my Cinderella grayscale images, and invite readers who are not familiar with grayscale coloring to check out my demos. (YouTube link at bottom of article.) I often post my colored pictures on my coloring group, Ruth Sanderson Art Coloring Group (and other Facebook groups). I invite you all to request to join my group.  All colorists are welcome!

I do enjoy coloring my line art books— The World of Fairies and the upcoming Fantastic Cats, so far. In addition to colored pencils, I also like using watercolors after printing the line art on Hot Press watercolor paper—I have created illustrations that way for children’s books over the years. And for some of my books I create detailed grayscale pencil drawings and tint them in oils after sealing the paper with mat medium. (Goldilocks) I am all about mixed media! Make-up Q-tips are a great tool…

How do you define success and how do you measure it?

 I feel that a book is a success if people get enjoyment from coloring my images. The coloring groups on Facebook are fantastic communities where colorists can post work and get lots of support and positive feedback. People from around the world interact in these groups— it is like nothing else I have seen. In terms of financial success, my hope is that my coloring books will sell well enough for me to be able to afford to keep creating them! So far this is the case, and I consider the venture a success. Much as I have loved illustrating children’s books over the past 40+ years, right now what I enjoy the most is creating line drawings for coloring, as well as converting many of my existing paintings into grayscale coloring books. It is exciting for me to see the new imaginative versions of my pictures, and the feeling of collaboration with colorists is something totally new to me, and really fun. Sometimes I like their color schemes better than mine! I hope to do lots more tutorials, and color-alongs in my coloring group, to help people develop their coloring skills.

Beside yourself, who is your favorite coloring book artist?

I was totally blown away when I first saw Joanna Basford’s book, The Secret Garden, which I believe was instrumental in starting the whole adult coloring book craze. There are so many others now producing fabulous coloring books, but she still stands tall among them, and her success is well deserved.

What color or colors do you most love to work with?

In my fairytales for children I create a different color palette for each book. Golds predominate in my picture book The Twelve Dancing Princesses, with blue and teal complimentary colors. The princesses wear these colors in the magical  underground golden forest and magical castle where they dance until their shoes wear out every night. The colors in their dresses echo the background colors. During the day they wear pink, burgundy, reds and oranges, all warm colors, to differentiate the daytime costumes from the nighttime ones. It took me about three weeks just to figure out the color schemes for all the costumes and scenes in that book.            Contrast is very important in a picture, and colors all have a “value” from light to dark. To make something stand out, usually the object is darker against a lighter color or light against a darker value. My goal is to create pictures that have a strong unified “value pattern” of light and shade, whatever the colors happen to be. Red, for instance, is actually a very dark color, so there has to be a balance of other dark colors in the picture tying the composition together so the red looks harmonious, otherwise it will stick out too much. Accenting with too much black can also make a picture look “out of key.” This is particularly true in grayscale on faces. I do recommend folks do a bit of research on color theory if they are at a loss with choosing colors. There are also some great sites that talk about choosing seasonal color palettes, and that can be inspiring and less intimidating than doing color wheels and learning triads, etc.

Outside of creating coloring books, do you have any other hobbies or activities that you love?

I have a wonderful quarter horse named Shadow and enjoy trail riding in the beautiful New England woods. I also enjoy gardening, walking, going to movies and plays, traveling, visiting museums, and reading.

What are your plans for the next year? Do you have any new coloring book releases planned?

I have plans for quite a few more books in the coming year. I will be working on more books with grayscaled images of my paintings, in both the Beautiful Fairytales series, and a series based on my fantasy art. (dragons, unicorns, etc.) I have lots of horse paintings, so that one is on the list for the future, too! And I will continue to create coloring tutorials for my YouTube channel. People who sign up for my newsletter at ruthsanderson.com will receive a free sample illustration to color from each new release.

What are the titles of the last three books you read or movies you’ve watched?

 I just read Some Writer: The Story of E. B. White, (author of Charlotte’s Web) written and illustrated by Melissa Sweet. I really enjoy reading biographies of writers and artists, and Sweet did a great job with both text and pictures. I enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy II, which is clever and witty and pokes fun at the genre in a hilarious way. And I was enchanted by Wonder Woman, and so impressed with its character development. And it’s not all about the action— it has a great story, too.

If you could be any animal on a carousel, what would you be, and why?

A horse, of course! Horses have always been my favorite animals, and when I was young, I drew them exclusively over everything else. (I was so thrilled to get the job of illustrating the covers for the Black Stallion series paperbacks early in my career in the late 70’s. Yup, I am that old…) I have always loved carousels. There is a restored carousel near us that is spectacular, and has a black stallion that is my favorite. I might need to do a carousel coloring book, now…..no, I think I absolutely must do a carousel coloring book! Thanks for the idea!

Happy Coloring!



LINKS for Ruth Sanderson:

Main Website: http://www.ruthsanderson.com

Ruth Sanderson Art Coloring Group:   https://tinyurl.com/ybaz2g33

Facebook Art Page: https://www.facebook.com/ruthsandersonart/

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/ruthsander

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ruth_sanderson

Amazon author page: https://tinyurl.com/l86hlf7

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RuthLSanderson

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/ruthlsanderson/

Coloring on the Go

By Anisa Claire

Sometimes we want to color outside of our homes. It’s not always easy, though, to haul all of those books and supplies around with you, so here are a few ideas on how to easily ‘Color on the Go’…

TRAVEL SIZED BOOKS: Micro or travel-sized coloring books are a thing and they’re pretty awesome. Rather than your standard 8.5 x 11 book, mini books are small enough to slide into your purse or bag. Artists will often post about them on their pages or in groups, but a quick search on Amazon will do wonders, too.
GET A PENCIL CASE: When you’re rushing out the door for work, to the park, or on vacation, the last thing you want to do is pack a small army of supplies. It’s time-consuming and difficult to decide what to bring. Get a pencil case! Pack some of your favorite items into it and have it ready to snatch and run.
PURCHASE A COLORING TOTE: A tote is also known as a bag and is a great way to organize your coloring supplies in advance. You can get a basic bag from almost anywhere, but artists will often sell bags that are either colorable or that have some of your favorite designs already printed on them. They come in a variety of sizes and can often fit a few books, quite a few supplies, and still leave room for the non-important things like, you know, your keys or wallet.
TINY PENCILS AND MARKERS: If you’re really tight on space, there are travel-sized pencils and markers, too, that come in a cute little case you can toss into your pocket. They probably won’t last long, but they sure are convenient.
DOUBLE SIDED WEAPONS: Erm… Did I say weapons? I meant markers and pencils, of course! These are handy because they take up as much space as a regular pack of pencils or markers but offer double the selection. This is a nice option for coloring on the go.
Hope these tips helped! It’d be a shame to have to leave coloring supplies behind because of size or inconvenience, wouldn’t it? Hah!

The Coloring Adventure Continues

By Larry Pierce

When we last left you our hero was waging an uphill battle against his mortal enemy…Wait that’s not the story I was telling, of course, it’s quite similar to my own story but with less blood and more crying quietly in the corner while searching for the proper colors that I need.

If I recall correctly, I was recounting my adventures as a male colorist in a predominately female coloring world. It’s been almost two years since I started inching my way back into coloring, and WOW, a lot of things have changed!! I’d like to say that I have made it to the point where everybody knows my name and my style (which is color quickly because you’re running behind again). I’d also like to say I’d made it to the point where people aren’t afraid to admit they know me, but that’s more of a personal goal and totally unrelated to coloring.

In that two years, I’ve met some of the most unique minds and some of the quirkiest people. I’ve also made some great friends who don’t judge me because I have a beard, tattoos and like to color. I know what you’re thinking “Beard, tattoos and coloring. I wonder if he’s as tall as he sounds.”  Good news, I am as tall as I sound, I could play a Mountain Dwarf in ANY upcoming movie. However we’re not here to talk about my role as understudy to Gimli, we’re here to talk about my own adventures in coloring.  Friends, coloring, dwarves… Oh, I remember where this train of thought was going.

Two years ago I was just starting out and was so shy about anything that may label me as a “colorist”, and in those two years, I have found that most people just want to color and show their art to others.  As I sit here drinking coffee and looking back over all of the things I have colored in the last two years I suddenly realize that I am most people and I, too,  just want to show others what I enjoy doing.  The most important words that I can give you as a colorist are that you should throw away the notions in your head that your art isn’t good enough, your colors aren’t bright enough, you’re blending techniques need some work or that your pants don’t match that shirt.

You see, the only person who believes those things is the guy that you shave in the mirror with, everybody else just see another colorists trying to bring a little more beauty into our world.  Many things have changed in my first two years as a colorist, but the one thing that has not changed is the overwhelming sense of peace that washes over me when I pick up my pencils (check supplies for your preferred coloring instruments) and grab a blank coloring page.

To be continued……………. or not.  It depends on whether I get invited back for more.  But if it’s like most things, they’ll just invite my wife, and I’ll get to sit in the car.


Coloring With a Limited Palette

By Alex Whisman

Choosing to colour with a small selection of colors can be a challenge.   It is a good way to test your skills when you are colouring.  You can use a challenge like this to help break out of a rut or to re-energise you if you feel your coloring mojo is trying to go into hiding.

Using your limited palette starts with choosing your picture and how many colors you want to use.  You can use as little as 1 pencil.  I have seen some stunning pictures colored with 1 pencil.  These truly showcase the colorists’ skills when you see them!

You can choose as many colors as you like.  I think that 4 to 6 colors provide a nice level of challenge, yet offers enough color options to do most pictures.

How do you choose your palette? Do you choose colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel to create interest and contrast in your picture? Do you use all pastel colours for a softer look, or all bright colors for a more solid look?  Do you choose colors that are in the same shade to create a mono-chromatic completed picture?

Regardless of how many colors you choose or the palette you use, something  important to consider is whether to include black and white as part of the colors you are allowed, or to supplement your palette in addition to them.  Some people consider both of these as separate colors.  Other people consider them a ‘base’, almost like a staple. If you are doing a limited-colour challenge for an official contest it is important to find out what the rules are before you pick your colors.  You want to plan and start your picture as soon as possible, but you don’t want to ruin it and have to start again if the rules treat these as separate color choices.  Some rules will not allow you to blend colors together to get a different color, and this is also important to know if you are doing a contest.  If you are challenging yourself, decide these things early on in your picture.

The picture I colored was “Tranqulity” by Shelah Dow and was part of a 6-color challenge she set for her Shelah Dow Art – Official Fan Coloring Group on Facebook.   I chose the following colors: Sanguine, Light-Yellow Ochre, Permanent Green Olive, Pine Green, Helioblue-Reddish and Cobalt Blue-Greenish.  I wanted to choose colors that complimented each other and that seemed to go with the themes in Shelah’s picture

Once you have your picture and your colors, it is time to get started!  Look at your picture and plan where you want to put each one.  Think about what techniques you want to use.  If you are like me and can forget what ideas you had, or if it is a long time between your coloring sessions, it helps if you put a light color pencil mark in the areas where you plan to use them.  If it is a light enough mark you can color over it with a different choice if you change your mind.  This won’t work with pens, unfortunately, so you may prefer to make a rough list of what you want to put in the larger elements of the picture.  Both of these techniques give you an idea of how the colors work together.

Sometimes you get to a place in the picture where you want to use the same color next to itself or a similar shade.  You want the separate areas to stand out and sometimes regular shading won’t work to give them enough unique definition.  Consider using lines or cross-hatches to show texture and colour. You can completely fill a section with lines or use them sparingly.   In the image below, you can see how I have used lines throughout the fairy’s hair, head band and wing edges.  I also used one of the blues sparingly by making wave marks in the water.  This has created the hint of color and movement without overwhelming the picture with blue.  I knew I wanted to color the fairy blue and didn’t want to have a picture with mostly blue images that blended together.

In addition to using single-color lines to create texture and difference in your picture, you can use 2 colors together, without blending.  You can do this by making lines with one color, then lines with a 2nd color going in the same direction or a different direction.  You can also outline a section with 1 color and color in with a 2nd color.  In the picture below you can see both techniques.  In the dragon’s wings I used green and blue hatching marks.  In the circles I used sanguine orange to outline the circles and used light yellow ochre lightly inside the circles.

 Another example of the 2-color lines technique is in my fairy wing below.  I liked the look I had achieved with the blue and green lines in the dragon wings above and wanted to achieve the same look and to tie the two sets of wings together in the image.  I also used the terracotta and light yellow ochre in the lotus flowers in the below picture.  The light yellow ochre was more subtle than the sanguine, and added a kind of “inner glow” where it was used.

The last technique I used to help expand my tool box, despite having a limited palette, was using Vaseline when coloring the frame of my picture.  I have used Vaseline in some of my colored pictures before and wrote an article for Color On in the February 2016 issue.  I find that my Faber Castel Albrecht Durer water color pencils lend themselves very well to working with Vaseline.  I use very little at a time and wipe off the excess as I go with a cotton bud.  While I have never had problems with the Vaseline bleeding to the back of my pictures, I do always recommend doing a small test on the title page of any book you consider doing this with.  I recommend the same test on a scrap of your regular paper if you print your pictures out.  Not all pencils react the same to Vaseline blending, so I recommend some small test-patches on another piece of paper.  Apply it very sparingly to the tip of your pencil, wipe excess off your pencil and where you colored.

Using Vaseline smooths your pencil strokes and brings out the color stronger in an image, without having to press too hard.  You can do some blending with it, but put down both colors before you put the Vaseline on your pencil and color it, once you have the Vaseline layer colored in you can’t usually color over it easily.

Completing a picture with a limited palette is refreshing.  I feel accomplished when I challenge myself, for doing something more difficult than my usual daily coloring and for turning out a picture that looks good.  Using some of these extra techniques let me make the most of my limited color range by giving me different tools to make the different elements of my pictures stand out.

My completed “Tranquility” by Shelah Dow, showing the techniques I used to stretch my 6-color palette.

September Feature Colorists

By Stephanie Anders

Each month we feature three colorists from our companion coloring group Coloring Books for Adults. Join in the fun and learn more about adult coloring.

Our feature colorists for September are:

Loraine Wilson – Loraine colored an image from Cinderella by Ruth Sanderson. You can purchase Ruth’s book here: http://amzn.to/2ioRU6I

JJ Santos-Esguerra – JJ colored line art by Alena Lazareva. Follow Alena on Facebook and learn more about her and her art: https://www.facebook.com/alenalazareva.art

Teresa Artstuff – Teresa colored an image from her own New Creations Coloring Book Series: Old Churches. Buy Teresa’s book here: http://amzn.to/2g4PbyB