Thursday, March 23, 2017

To Draw, Or Not To Draw?

Adults are...coloring?!?  Yes, they are! In fact, they're heading to craft stores for adult coloring books in droves!  If you haven't yet seen any articles or posts about this in your own social media newsfeeds, there is growing research that indicates that drawing and coloring can be as peaceful and relaxing as meditation can be for adults. Having read all the hype, I decided, what the heck? Why not try it out? So, although I am not typically one known for jumping on the bandwagon, I decided to purchase an adult coloring book to aid me in my quest for relaxation. 

This is the one I bought, which I got at Joann Fabrics, but you can get it on Amazon, too, right here:

When I first took out my new coloring book to experience this so-called "meditative" coloring, I was very excited! I got out my special Zig Memory System artist's markers that I have for paper crafting and my good ol' colored pencils. 

I wasn't sure which one I would prefer to use, but I thought I'd give them both a try. Within the first few minutes of coloring, it was completely evident to me which medium I would prefer:  the colored pencils. This was because I didn't like the way the markers felt on the paper. And I also didn't like how the paper pilled up beneath the marker's brush after repetitive strokes, much like a wool sweater does (until you finally shave it with a sweater shaver).  Too, I wasn't crazy about being able to see the brush strokes within the design I was coloring.

Feeling a bit dismayed with the results the markers were giving me, I opted to start a new page using my colored pencils.  My colored pencils are just your average, run-of-the-mill colored pencils...you know, the ones you can buy at Walmart for twenty-five cents during the back-to-school sales at the end of the summer. I liked the feel of the colored pencil on the paper much better.  It glided easier and created a smoother look to my design.

Once I began working on my new page, I quickly realized that the design I had chosen was incredibly detailed...which, to me, felt overwhelming at times. I also realized that when you are working on a detailed design, you can choose to hone in on as much or as little of the details as you wish. I found that the more I colored, the more I wanted to find ways in which I could "chunk" the designs to make it simpler to color. Of course, the OCD part of me still continued to pay close attention to the minutiae. The solution I found to feeling this sense of being overwhelmed:  my next coloring page would be far less detailed! That will be my strategy for now...until I can find the peace and relaxation I am seeking. Once I discover my happy place, I will be able to choose some of the more intricate designs again.

The other snafu I ran into...quite frequently, might I add...was lack of peace and quiet! With 3 children, two dogs, and three cats, (plus a husband), there is very little of that around...EVER! Hence the quest for peace in the first place! If it wasn't the kids fighting (or avoiding bedtime with their pleas for a drink, a snack, or a trip to the moon, etc.), then it was inevitable that the dog would be chasing the cats around the house like her last meal had been two weeks ago! It's been INSANE trying to find that one moment of solitude to actually relax during the coloring. Hmmm...I have no solution for this problem...as of yet!  Perhaps just waiting until the kids are all grown and out of the house?!? 

Kids, dogs, cats, husbands, and any random farm animals aside, there were actually a few moments where I did enjoy the coloring!  And although it wasn't always relaxing, I did manage to complete my first page! 

Right before I actually bought a real coloring book, I had found a couple of iPhone and iPad apps that let you color a design in electronically. One of the apps, "Adult Coloring Book," by Groom Lake Development, lets you listen to relaxing music or nature sounds while you "color".  I really like the designs on this app a lot, and there are more to choose from in the free part of the app than the Recolor app.  The other app, "Recolor," by Sumoing, lets you choose which medium you wish for your final product to appear like you used when coloring it in. Here are the designs I colored:

 This mandala was colored and left "Plain" in the section that allows you to choose the medium.

 After this next mandala was colored, I choose the "Shadow" medium, which, as you can see, makes the design look as if it is more 3-dimensional with a shadow added to it.

In this one, after I colored it, I choose the "Shiny" medium.  I think it makes it look like plastic!  What do you think?

Pretty neat, huh? I definitely enjoyed coloring electronically. It allows you to make mistakes and then correct them, just like the "undo" button in Microsoft programs.  I also enjoyed tapping to color a whole section in.  It was wicked easy and less fatiguing on my hands than traditional coloring! All-in-all, I feel like the electronic coloring book definitely has a place and a purpose in this new wave of adult...errrrrr...entertainment. 

After these coloring experiences, I was in a local scrapbooking store and came across books that teach you how to draw what the books referred to as "Zentangles". This is a type of drawing I have been doing since high school...but I never knew it was an actual "thing"! Now, mind you, mine have always been slightly different and have not followed "their" prescribed patterns and rules. But it was so exciting to see that I had been drawing "something real"! I could not wait to find out more information and begin drawing these "doodles" in a more formal manner (aka...not just on the side of my papers, but perhaps in a real drawing journal!?!?). As soon as I could, I began searching for more information online about Zentangle.

Having found several websites and tons of pictures, I couldn't wait to begin! So on my next adventure outside of the house, I actually did purchase a real drawing journal and real, adult's colored pencils!!! My first coloring experience with the new pencils was amazing...far more enjoyable and surprising than I seriously could have imagined! It really is incredible the difference quality materials can make!

Here are the pencils I purchased:

And here is the page I colored with the new pencils:

The new colored pencils were much smoother and the lead felt softer. In contrast, the old colored pencils I had been using kept breaking every time I would touch them to my paper...even if I wasn't pressing that hard. And whenever I would sharpen them, they would just break right apart. I was getting really frustrated with them, so the difference with the new colored pencils was huge! The new pencils seemed to just glide over my paper...and the colors were beautiful!

Okay, I got off on a wee little tangent there...so, back to the Zentangle style of drawing. Now that I had a real sketchpad I was ready to begin my visual journal.  I chose to use two different Sharpies. An extra fine tip and a fine tip. I like the contrast between the sizes as I'm drawing. 

Here is the sketch journal I chose:

And here are my Sharpies:

When I first sat down to draw, I started with a little tiny square on my page and started doodling different designs inside of it, but then I wanted to expand my design. So, I started working outside of the box. I was trying to challenge myself to use different types of doodles than I've ever used before, and at times my imagination was stalled. I had to find different ideas. So i did what any self-respecting, up-and-coming artist would do: I went online! I looked at the Zentangle method again and people's pictures of their own artwork for ideas.

Once I had a couple of designs that I could doodle, it started to flow a lot easier for me. I really enjoyed the Zentangle-esque style of drawing! It was so much fun! Once I was finished with my first page, I couldn't wait to start my next! 

Here is my first page, in all it's glory (haha):

For my next page, I once again looked up some ideas online and then let my imagination flow. Here is what I came up with:

Although I like this new design, I felt it was a bit "chunky" looking. 

So, for my next design, I had wanted to do something with a lot of fine detail. I went online again and found a beautiful piece of artwork that someone else had drawn and I decided to use that as my springboard. I didn't want to replicate it, but I wanted to use it to spark my creativity. Here is what I drew:

I love how it came out! I was a little bit frustrated at times by a few of my details and how they didn't turn out the way I originally thought they would, but when I take a look at the whole piece of work, I am quite satisfied. One of the things that I found out about the Zentangle method is that you are supposed to accept everything that you draw. So, if you think something you've drawn is a mistake, instead of dwelling on it being a mistake, you're supposed to turn it into part of your design. I had to do that several times! But, I was able to figure out a pattern or doodle for each "error"...even though at first I was a little frustrated with myself. 

In any case, this is my favorite piece of work so far, and I can't wait to draw another one! I just haven't had any time in the past week. 

Thanks for reading and I hope you've enjoyed this post! Hopefully I've even inspired you to try coloring or drawing!! Feel free to share your experiences below, and don't forget to follow my blog if you like what you've read so far! 

Artistically yours,

Marathon Momma



  1. Wow! I am really impressed with your zentangle designs! I can't believe they are freehand. I have not tried adult coloring yet. Lack of time and the limiting belief that I am not creative have held me back. But you have inspired me! Maybe I'll give it a try.

    1. Awwww! Thank you so much! One of the best parts of the zentangle, I believe, is that you don't have to be that creative or have any drawing experience! I am creative, but I'm not really good at drawing. But the thing is is that when you look at the finished work, you don't even notice the errors or realize that the artist has no experience! Lol the details of the design are so eye catching! If you can draw circles, squares, lines, and the occasional swirl, you can do this! Give it a try! It's sooooo fun!


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