I love to color big projects using Copic Markers and colored pencils. To work at 8.5" x 11” or larger, I expand the size of my digital stamps to just barely fit on the largest paper my printer can handle. An oversized project allows me space to color the same way I would paint, with lots of detail and realism.
This is what I call Artistic Coloring and it’s extremely rewarding.
But what I notice when I first introduce students to oversized projects is oversized nervousness.
“Oh my, it’s gigantic! How am I supposed to color all that space? This will take forever!”
Relax, artistic coloring does require more time than quick and easy card fronts.
But that’s not a bad thing!
Hello, my name is Amy Shulke and I’m the illustrator and art instructor over at VanillaArts.com. Today I’d like to give you a few tips to make large size projects feel less intimidating.
In the past few months, we’ve explored how Artistic Coloring differs from traditional coloring for cards and how to take the first step to adding artistry to your projects.
But there’s still a time hurdle that discourages people from using their Power Poppy digital stamps for large scale realistic & artistic marker paintings.
Let’s eliminate the fear of time.
Because often, it’s not the size of the project that’s scaring you away, it’s your mental misconceptions about Artistic Coloring.
1. Working slow is good for your soulWe live in a world of overnight shipping, pocket internet, and instant texts.
Fast, fast, fast.
And because most colorers come to coloring from the card making world, you’re used to cranking out a handful of handmade cards on a Saturday afternoon.
C’mon, you know you’re a sucker for tuts marked Quick & Easy, Simple, and One Layer.
But there is joy in deeper coloring.
Coloring becomes less a hobby and more of personal journey when you take your time. When you explore your coloring images deeper, you also start to explore the depths of your heart and mind. Artistic coloring is introspective, soothing, and even zen. It’s yoga for your hands and restorative for your brain.
Discovery and self exploration are what’s missing from Tuesday Tut-a-thons and the lack of meaning is why most colorers quit coloring when a new crafty fad hits.
If you never dig deeper into the coloring process, you’re going to find yourself tying macrame’ or tole painting pepper shakers this time next year. Think back and count the crafts you did before you found your way to stamp coloring. It’s a lot, right? You must have something more valuable than trio-blending a pink piglet in a party hat to keep you coloring long term.
Speed techniques and 20 minute cards burn you out quickly.
Slow coloring feeds you for a lifetime.
2. The joy of detailOne of the reasons why I love working with Power Poppy is the same reason why you’re a fan of Power Poppy too:
We love detail.
Power Poppy florals are chock-full of petals, leaves, berries, birds, butterflies, and little hidden details that make us smile. We’re definitely not the kind of people that refuse to color any stamp with more than three shapes in it.
But let’s be honest: far too often you stamp in black and let Marcella handle all the pesky bits for you.
Maybe you put a pretty watercolor wash behind the petals. Or you hit only the important items with a pop of color. But most of the time, if someone were to erase the black stamp lines leaving just your color on the page, it would look like a wonky color blob.
Which is strange to me, because the joy you get from letting your eye wander across a beautifully detailed stamp is less than a tenth of the pride you feel when you color all of those details yourself.
“I did that!” is an amazing feeling!
For my Annabella’s Heart online artistic coloring class, we use the new expansion pack for the Follow Your Heart set. There are now three new heart challenges to choose from and each one is perfect for detail coloring.
Marcella draws shapes clearly and then gives you tons of little clues for texture and shadow within the shapes. Power Poppy stamps are an easy, stress-free way to savor the detail coloring process.
But you won't have room for the magical details if you don't print the digital stamps larger than card size and we won't see your details unless you print the digi in pale gray.
Some people don’t have the patience for small detail but for those of us who love little bugs on little leaves… we were born to color long and slow!
3. Complex doesn’t have to be hardOkay, I’ll admit that I lost count somewhere after the 50th petal. There are a lot of petals here to color.
But as I said in the last point, we’re here at Power Poppy because we love this kind of complex stamp. Most people would take one look at it and bleep. “I can’t do that!”
That’s where you’re wrong. This is NOT an advanced project.
If you can color one petal, you can color this stamp. It’s the same petal over and over and over and over and over and…
There’s a difference between complex and difficult.
When something is difficult, you physically have problems completing the task. You can’t perform at the level demanded; you’re unable to complete the project.
That’s different than a job with lots of simple little things to do.
Don’t let your first impression of a stamp turn you off. Don’t let the petal count dissuade you from trying something that’s actually a ton of fun.
Lots of easy looks complicated but it’s never hard.
4. Watch your style evolveWe’ve been marking our kid’s height inside a kitchen doorway since they were old enough to stand upright without tumbling over. My 6 foot tall son doesn’t remember being short, but we have proof.
Long slow projects like this hydrangea heart are growth charts. I’m not the same artist I was when I started and I can see that here.
I started coloring at the point of the heart. I worked my way counterclockwise around the outside edge. I did the interior large florets last.
And there’s an obvious difference between my first petal and my last.
As you color big images, you get more efficient. You also discover things that look great, you stop repeating mistakes, and you learn to color better and better.
Repetitive images are strangely addicting. It’s fun to make your way back to the beginning and see how your coloring has evolved, grown, and improved.
I don’t remember being clumsy but I was.
Long slow coloring images are practice exercises but they’re far more rewarding than a page full of practice strokes. Don’t ask me to blend a row of squares and then shade a row of circles; I’d quit after two of each.
But I could color flower petals for years and still find new things to explore.
5. It’s okay to get boredA lot of people look at large coloring images or the ones with lots of fiddly components and think: “how am I supposed to get that done this afternoon?”
Whoa. Back up there, lil' doggie.
Who says you’re supposed start and finish today?
I worked on Annabelle’s Heart over five days. The background in one sitting, shadows in another session. Then the florets over the next four days. A little bit here, a little bit there. Do some now, come back later…
Otherwise, I’d go nuts.
I know the romantic version of an artist is someone locked in their Paris flat painting for six days straight.
But seriously, that’s crazy. Marathons are for runners, not artists. There’s no prize for finishing it all in one sitting.
Take your time, take breaks, go do something else, live your life!
When your mind starts to wander, that’s natures little way of encouraging you to take a walk, grab lunch, and go be normal for a while.
It’s natural to get bored after the 10th petal. It’s good to stop and come back later.
The good stuff? It takes more time to color. That’s how it gets good.
So here’s my Artist’s Notebook challenge for you this month...
Maybe it’s a complex stamp with six different kinds of flowers in it.
Or maybe it’s one of the simpler, single blossom images but you’ve always wanted to try it larger and color the details yourself.
Long slow coloring is a great way to learn and grow PLUS expanded length projects also feed your spirit and allow you to express your unique self.
Set aside the artificial deadlines and stop talking yourself out of big projects.
You can do this!
Want to color Power Poppy’s Follow Your Heart with me?
Remember, this Hydrangea version is part of the new update to the original stamp pack, don't miss it!
You can find out more about Vanilla Livestream classes here.
And I’ll see you back here next month for another glance into my Artist’s Notebook!
Previous Artist's Notebook articles:What is Artistic Coloring?
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