Yesterday I talked a bit about graphite pencil shading and my post turned into a step by step demonstration showing you one of the ways I like to color.

Most the time, though, my coloring is just coloring. I don’t think a lot about color schemes or about various tools or techniques. Most of my coloring time is spent observing how my picture is developing, noticing the kinds of reactions I have at various stages of my coloring, giving those reactions some thought to see if they are the kind of reactions that I feel are good for my wellbeing or not so good, and having the colors or shapes bring me surprise memories and associations from places times or events in my past.

Coloring gives me a lot of practice in not taking myself too seriously. Probably every single time that I color, I’ll make a little mistake and have to go through the same process of having it feel really big and significant – and then having it fade away to be small and essentially meaningless. Do that enough times and it’s quite amazing just how fast you can process a mistake, your reaction, and then be totally done with it. It’s not that I started out courageous or confident about my coloring or about the idea of publicly showing a bunch of people every single page that I color. There’s just only so many times that you can feel self-conscious about the same thing before it starts to feel like a waste of time and energy. (The first few times are kind of memorable, though, lol.)

What I’m doing here today with this coloring is just a tiny bit different than what I’ve been doing day after day of for past few years. But now it’s like every single person on the Internet or who ever will be on the Internet can stop by and take a look at my coloring, while I’m coloring, and pick out all of the little tiny things that might not be 100% perfect.

In one of my sketch books a month or two ago I made a little note that said “do not possess that which can be taken.” At first glance that might sound a lot more like a downer than a motivational statement, lol, but I find it empowering. You know, I have kinds of thoughts about my abilities, my strengths and weaknesses, my creativity, and the personal connection that I have with my coloring. There’s bound to be at least one person on the Internet who may stop by one day, take a look at what I wrote and start laughing, or take a look at one of the pictures I’ve colored and not appreciate it. Holding onto the idea that there could or should be a perfectly safe and supportive coloring space where everything is always sunny and perfect sounds pretty good at first. It sounds like an ideal vision to hold onto.

It’s also super easy to have it taken away. All it really takes is somebody making a face or saying something unthoughtful and zip! Away it goes.

It’s a lot easier to just leave all of that out of my coloring and not worry about which people may like something and which people might not like it. And seriously, when my picture goes through stages when I color it where sometimes I like it and sometimes I don’t, maybe it’s perfectly OK that other people view it the same way.

I like this new step in my coloring journey. It’s one where each poor color choice, or scribble outside the lines, or mini oops is completely public. And each tiny moment of perfection, or inspiration, or creativity is equally public. It can all be beautifully insignificant – just passing coloring moments, passing coloring thoughts and momentary reactions.

(Today’s coloring is from Balance For Crayons And Wide Tipped Markers using Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencil over soft graphite shading.)