Like half the women in the US, I have taken up coloring. Coloring, the simple act of filling in spaces in various designs with the colors of one’s choice, using markers or colored pencils, is now being marketed as the way to relieve stress, increase ‘mindfulness’, and otherwise help make one’s life wonderful. Or at least brightly colored. And I discovered I LOVED it. I chose a book of designs, “Mandalas and More”, by artist Valentina Harper,
bought a package of 30 fine-point markers, and began to fill in the little spaces with color. Each design took hours, but I was entranced.
While I was exploring the wonderful world of color in my coloring book, I was also looking around at the art hanging in our home, and realized that several areas could do with an infusion of color.
Initially, I thought I would simply go shopping, looking for some brightly colored paintings to brighten up the areas I thought were a bit drab. And then I was struck by an idea. What if I created an artwork with my colorings?
The first thing I thought I should do was put the colorings on a stiffer backing. I thought that just taping the pages to the wall would be a bit tacky. So, after some trial and error, I decided to back them with layers of black sketch paper. Elmer’s Glue had too high a moisture content and caused the color to leach out, so I went with wood glue. Using a foam applicator to get an even coating, I brushed the glue on, pressed the papers together (colorings + 2 layers of sketch paper), and put them to dry under heavy books to minimize warping. Then, I got out my exacto knives, and began cutting away what was uncolored. Removing all the negative spaces, leaving only the colorings, gave them a more three-dimensional quality that I really liked. The final step was to give the colorings a protective coating. I used a water-based resin, BioShield Aqua Resin Stain Finish. An unexpected side effect of using this was a slight blurring of the colors, giving the pieces a water color effect that I thought was quite lovely. As long as I worked quickly, and didn’t overwork the application, there was minimal muddying.
Now, I have to accumulate enough for a grouping of pieces to create my own indoor garden, complete with fantastical birds and beasts.
I haven’t quite figured out how I’m going to mount each individual piece. I may just use glue dots to attach them directly to the wall. But I am truly pleased with my first foray into making my own art. It is not art for the ages, it is simply art for me, but it is wonderful to discover this joy, in both process and outcome. So I say to you, go on, color something. Brighten up your life.