Art

Let's talk about color...

What are your favorite art materials for coloring?
— the #1 question I get asked when I am talking to groups about my book

I think it goes without saying that crayons have had their day. Everyone has picked up a crayon at some point in their life and most of us remember the smell with fondness. Today I usually chose something other than crayons, but I'm not saying I don't ever use them (ok, I honestly can't tell you the last time I've picked up a crayon). Since the sharpened tip gets worn down so fast on crayons, they are really only good for coloring right out of the brand new box (unless you get one of those huge delux boxes that has the little sharpener on the back), or coloring large things - like the sky, the background, etc. Crayons are also wax-base, so there's no mixing them with other materials. The wax resists ANYTHING water based (markers, pens, etc.). 

Speaking of water based markers and pens, that brings me to one of the coloring implements I can't do without - Crayola Supertips. You can buy a set of 50 of these at Back-To-School time for about $3, or you can click on this link to order them on Amazon. I love these because they're cheap, they come in TONS of colors, they don't bleed through (most) paper, and they have this neat thick/thin tip so you can practice calligraphy (crayligraphy) with them. 

Another ink-based product that I REALLY like is a nice set of fine tip pens. My FAVORITE set is the Staedtler Triplus Fineliners (link here), but the more inexpensive Paper Mate Flair Pens (link here) work well too. They both come in oooooodles of great colors and are PERFECT for writing or coloring in those tiny hard-to-reach spaces. You can find these at Target or WalMart (as well as Amazon) and the prices are going to be comparable. 

But I would be remiss without mentioning (in depth) my favorite thing to color with - Prismacolor colored pencils. I bought my first set in 1997 when they were on my supplies list in college (fine arts classes) and I've never looked back. I have since bought several sets over the years to supplement my old ones (as I wear them out), but some of the originals are still around. Prismacolors are the best because they're professional grade and the lead (it's not actually "lead", but that's what I'm going to call i) has more pigment and less filler, so the color is richer and brighter. They can be layered, mixed, smudged, and you can draw over them with your fine tip pens (or markers) since they're not totally waxy (think: crayons). Now, you can use Crayola brand colored pencils if that's what you have - there's no requirement for buying the super fancy colored pencils. What I AM telling you though, is that once you use the good ones, you can totally tell the difference in the quality and the way they feel. My kids are completely spoiled and have to have to use my pencils when they have school projects... In their eyes - all others are inferior!

One drawback is that these pencils are quite a bit more expensive than the generic or Crayola version. A tin of 72 Prismacolor colored pencils will set you back around $80 if you buy them in a Michael's or Hobby Lobby, but you can get the EXACT same thing on Amazon (this link) for under $25! 

When you have your pencils, pens, markers and coloring book (hopefully you're coloring in my new book, Amazing Alabama) all laid out and ready to color, please HUMOR ME and remember these 5 simple rules:

1) PRACTICE! Coloring is like learning and instrument or playing sports - if you don't practice, you're never going to get any better at it!
2) GO SLOW! It's not a race. You don't have to finish the entire coloring book in 2 hours. Really take your time and build/blend your colors to get a really nice effect... without destroying the tips of your freshly sharpened pencils!
3) Keep your pencils sharp and re-cap your markers/felt tip pens. Coloring with sharp pencils gives you more control over where you add the color, and re-capping your pens should be a no-brainer! All the water-based pens/markers that we are using are going to dry out if left uncapped. Protect your assets and make sure your caps are securely fastened!
4) Always, always, ALWAYS test your ink first! I included a tester page in the front of my coloring book, but if the book you're using doesn't have one, just flip to the back page to test your markers. You need top make sure you're only coloring the image you intended to color - and not the page below (bleed-through). 
5) You don't always have to follow the rules. Coloring is about experimenting and trying new things, so have fun and get CREATIVE!

Thankful for November...

If you've been following me on Instagram (@alabama.pen.paper) or on Facebook (Alabama Pen & Paper), you will see that I've been trying to get in the Christmas spirit while listening to carols and drawing up some new Christmas designs for cards, stickers, gift tags, etc. But today I realized that I'm completely overlooking the best holiday of the year - Thanksgiving! 

So to celebrate (and ask the Thanksgiving turkey-gods their forgiveness) - I've created this sweet little FREE Thanksgiving download. Click the image below to download a PDF file and have a super great time coloring! 

From one artist to another...

I really don't have the words to describe New York. We walked over 45 miles in the 6 days we were there, saw some incredible artwork (more on that in a bit), ate some FABULOUS food, saw some quintessentially "New York" neighborhoods, rode in a yellow taxi, the subway, AND a taxi boat, saw 2 Broadway plays (one of which was actually in the "Broadway Theater"), ordered food from a street cart, got honked at while crossing the street... and that's just the tip of the iceberg! 

Now, being an artist and reading books about art and artists, and studying art and artists, we HAD to hit a few art museums while we were there. We didn't get a chance to go in the Guggenheim - even though we took a picture of it (from the street), but we did go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the MET) and the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and between the 2, I thought I had died and gone to heaven! 

Saturday we went to the MET and we ended up staying 7+ hours and totally closing them down. We were seriously some of the last people in the building and we didn't even see half of everything. From Matisse to Van Gogh (we saw the sunflowers, the cypress, and his SELF PORTRAIT) to Cezanne to Monet, this museum was right up my alley.  When you think it couldn't possibly get any more incredible, we even got to see a Leonardo Da Vinci (I was so in-awe that I didn't get a picture. Sorry.)! Steve was even surprised to find that the MET is the home of Emanuel Gottlieb Leutz' painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware. I must admit, it's a bit surprising to round a corner and see this larger than life (seriously - at least 20 ft wide) painting that you've read about and studied your entire life! It's exhilarating and awe-inspiring, to say the least. 

Wednesday we were flying out at 4:15, so we decided to walk to MOMA before heading to the airport. Once again, I was ASTONISHED by the paintings that are there... Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse, Dali, etc. Some of these works were the ACTUAL works that I studied in Art History 101... I definitely had my little freak-out moment when I got to see The Starry Night... 

There were a TON of Picasso paintings at MOMA, but I honestly think I blacked-out from excitement. When I came to, with tears on my cheeks, I was a bit disappointed that this was the only Picasso I managed to take a photo of.

Oh well, I've got them all in my memories.

A little partisan debate...

Fall brings with it some wonderful things - October, my birthday, falling leaves, cooler weather, pumpkins, mums, scarves, boots and candy corn. My life is better in the fall when I can easily get my hands on these delicious little orange/yellow/white beauties. In fact, my husband and I have a serious love affair with candy corn mixed with peanuts. Anyway, I resisted as long as I could, but the other day I broke down at Kroger and bought several bags of candy corn and a jar of roasted peanuts. Oh RAPTURE!

Let's count the positives about these beauties:
1) They're like this heavenly miniature bite of Payday candy bars.
2) They look adorable in a little jar on the counter.
3) I don't care to hear any negatives... they're perfect!

That's a jar full of happiness.

The other night I fell asleep on the sofa and Steve, in glorious rapture at being left alone with the blessed jar of candy corns and peanuts, posted something on facebook about them and a very partisan debate ensued. I am extremely shocked and hurt by all the negativity surrounding candy corns. Seriously, what's wrong with people? I don't need that kind of negativity in my life, people!

Candy Corn + Peanuts = Angels singing from above! 

To show my love and support, I am offering another FREEBIE to download and color. Click on the image to download.

Any and all donations to the cause can be made in the form of more candy corns and peanuts (they've got to be roasted)... just shoot me an email and I'll be happy to tell you where to drop them off! 

Happy October!

We live in Alabama, so our 4 seasons aren't as defined as the rest of the country (read: it's shorts-weather for about 8 months out of the year). It's October and the high this week is in the 80's. That doesn't mean I can't LOVE October. Not only is it my birthday month (I'll be the BIG 40 this year), but I get to enjoy things like plaid scarves and hot cocoa and fire pits and falling leaves and pumpkins and boots...

It's been a bit breezy and the humidity has been relatively low the past 2 days, so I wanted to celebrate this special time of year by giving you a free coloring sheet download. 

click the image for a download link:

click the image for a download link:

I might look like an idiot wearing my blanket scarf and jeans this week, but it's October, so I'm just going to crank down the AC and enjoy myself!

Happy Fall, y'all!