Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Coloring is Hard for Me

Quick side note:  The last couple of weeks have been very difficult for me mental health-wise.  I'll write about it soon.  For now, I welcome any good thoughts or prayers offered in my behalf.


Coloring is easy, right?  Coloring book, crayons, relaxation.  That's how it's supposed to be, right?  And sometimes it is for me, too.  But other times it just really isn't.  Especially when I'm working on a project I'm going to give to someone.

There may be all kinds of reasons it's tough for me, but the primary reason is because I'm color blind.  Yup.  I'm one of the very rare women who have that luxury.  It's estimated that close to 10% of men are color blind but only 0.5% of women.  That's half of one percent.  Lucky me.

So all my life, color has been tricky for me.  I learned all the rules about color.  I know which ones work together and which ones don't.  I know about complementary colors and triadic color schemes.  But I still often have to ask my daughters what color something is (my son is color blind, too) and whether or not I can use this color with that one.  And since I am color blind, I really have to follow the rules of color or things get nasty.  Some people can break them with beautiful results, but not me.

So I was kind of thrilled to find out that true Zentangle is done in black and white -- not color!  Many people add color, but my tangling efforts could be complete and acceptable if I never colored anything.

Then I made a piece for a friend and he asked me to color it.  Ugh!

I was sure I would ruin it.  I had no idea how to do it.  And my coloring supplies were minimal.

So I stressed out about it.  A lot.  So much for the "zen" in Zentangle.

I thought I'd try watercolor.  I bought a nice set and watched several YouTube videos.  I knew I could do it.  Except it wasn't the same when I did it as when they did it on the videos.

So here are the steps to my first colored piece:

my practice page
I had done the piece on watercolor paper.  I had planned to color it until I got it done.  Then I liked it a lot in black and white (check out my last post to see the black and white version) and didn't want to mess it up.  Until my friend requested color.

Watercolor paper has a lot of texture.  It's also very heavy.  I liked the weight and texture of the paper but wasn't sure how it would affect the coloring.  I drew a few simple shapes with a touch of tangling on a separate piece of watercolor paper.  I also drew two smaller versions of the original piece (without the skull because that took forever) to test out color combinations and do a couple of trial runs.

I did some watercoloring on my practice page and decided I was ready to give it a try.  This is how my first test run on my mini-version tuned out:
mini-version, watercolor, first trial run

You may notice the page curled a bit.  That didn't bother me.  I was sure I could fix that if I needed to.  But I wasn't happy with the result.  Not even happy enough to finish it with some shading (I might still go back and add that later).

Then I gave up for about a week.  I didn't know what I was doing.  I was super stressed (that bad mental health struggle I mentioned).  I needed to step back for a bit and leave it alone.

Yesterday, I decided to attack it again.  Not having it finished was causing me extra stress.  I needed to finish it so I could get that monkey off my back.  I decided to use colored pencils.

I bought a set of watercolor pencils a few days before, thinking maybe I would still watercolor but in a different way (I never did end up adding water).  And I had a large collection of Crayola colored pencils from years of art projects with my kids.  I tested them out a bit on my practice page and decided just to go for it on my second mini-version (after watching a three part tutorial on YouTube about using colored pencils).

This is how the second trial run went:
mini-version, colored pencils, second trial run
There were things I liked about it and things I didn't.  But frankly, I was so tired of this hanging over my head, I kind of said "screw it" and dove into the real project.

I used mostly the Crayola pencils, but I did use one or two watercolor pencils.  I did some smudging here and there.  A bit of shading. 

And this is how it turned out:
almost there
It was acceptable.  I wasn't thrilled with it, but it was done and I was so ready to be through with it that I just didn't care that it wasn't perfect.  For a few hours.  Then it started to bug me again and I knew it needed a little bit more.

So I colored in the Widgets (the things that look like little alien robots) with some strong bright colors and darkened the red and blue on either side of the skull.  I also colored a few of the yellow dots orange.

No more tweaking.  I promise.  This is the final product:
the final product
Do I love it?  Not really.  Although it has grown on me.  When I put it away for a few hours and then come back to it, I like it more.  But I am calling it done!

A few tidbits.  You may have noticed that in each piece, the peace symbol is green.  That's not because I really loved the way it looked.  It's more because it's my own little joke that brings me a weird joy -- GreenPeace (tee hee).  Also, I did the space to the right of the skull red and to the left blue because that's the way they are colored on the Grateful Dead album art.  And since it's very much a hippie-inspired piece, I wanted to incorporate some tie dye if I could.  Hence, the rainbow border.

I'm trying to get over the fact that it didn't turn out the way I imagined it in my head and just try to love it for what it is.

I won't give up on coloring.  I want to get some different supplies to try, primarily some Tombow brush markers like I had years ago when I was a demonstrator for a stamp/scrapbook company.

But whether I love it or not, I am proud of myself for tackling something that's hard for me and not giving up.  Yay, me!


Rubye Jack said...

I admire how you stuck with it in spite of colors being difficult for you, and I seriously love the final result. I would definitely hang it on my wall.
I should check out this process.
Sorry to hear things aren't well emotionally Robin. Stay strong.

The Dose of Reality said...

I am continually amazed by your art, Robin. I love it. It is absolutely beautiful...just like you! I am sending you all my prayers right now. --Lisa

Angela Gilmore said...

Your final product is gorgeous, I love it! I seriously love it. And good for you for taking the challenge and completely it beautifully.

Tracie Nall said...

They are all really awesome. Your art is so detailed. I never would have guessed, just looking at them, that you are colorblind.

Praying for you tonight.

Mamapotamus said...

These are really great! I hope you feel like it was worth all the effort because they are certainly very lovely.

Christy@SweetandSavoring said...

It's always tough sticking with something that doesn't seem to be working right or doesn't really come naturally. Love that you're not giving up and I'm sending you lots of warm loving thoughts {hugs}