Meet Coloring Enthusiast Barbara Barnes
For this week’s colorists spotlight series I’m introducing Barbara Barnes. Read on to learn more about Barbara and how she got into adult coloring twenty years ago. Perhaps you will discover some new techniques, artists, books, tips, and ideas for coloring.
(Responses have only been slightly edited for spelling and grammar. Click any picture to open it larger and see a slideshow. -Sue)
When did you get into coloring and what were the circumstances that led you to it?
About 20 years ago, I walked into a museum store with a friend, and happened upon a display of Dover Coloring Books. I was fascinated about the paper quality, perforated pages, etc. I purchased a couple books, went into a craft store and purchased Prismacolor Premiers (I had no idea I was buying excellent quality pencils….lol). Now, I was in my 40’s then, had a full time job, so this was a part time hobby.
Found mandala coloring books online, remember completing 5-6 of them over 20 years!!!!! AND I THREW THEM OUT….YUP…DUMMY ME. Fast forward to 2015, when adult coloring took the world by storm! Over the past year, I am now up to 100+ physical books, 20+ PDF books and some individual designs, numerous pencil sets (over 500 pencils), 360+ markers, 180 gel pens, 72 watercolor pencils, and a box of 64 pastels.
Joined my first coloring group on Facebook just over a year ago, and now a member of too many to count. Joining the groups and interacting with other colorists allowed me to learn more about trying other mediums, which is why I have so many supplies now! Also we share best deals and prices with one another.
Why do you color? What are the benefits of coloring for you?
I love being creative, but I cannot draw worth a darn. Coloring allows me to bring artists’ drawings to life. It also is a great stress reliever! I can spend hours coloring, and forget to eat…LOL. I LOVE putting on music while I color. I enjoy soft music, jazz instrumental, country music, classical, oldies rock….anything and everything. It’s all so soothing. The time flies by fast. It has become a FULL-time hobby. Add to that, the fact that I help co-admin 2 Facebook groups, and am also on coloring teams for a few artists, helping them to promote their books; often getting access to designs in advance of publication, then posting the pictures all over once the book is released; and posting reviews for them on Amazon.
What are your favorite media to color with? Do you have a particular favorite type or brand or coloring tools?
Oh……what I use depends on several things: mostly the amount of details in the images I color. For example, I will use mostly pencils on a detailed mandala. I often use mixed media in pictures. If a design is particularly intricate, I will use just colored pencils, and gel pens. If there are larger spaces, I will use markers. I used to use markers to cover backgrounds (I choose which pictures I think need the background colored), but I was wasting a lot of markers that way.
So, I purchased the pastels to fill in backgrounds. I recently purchased my Derwent Inkense watercolor pencils and a water brush set to use with them. I am still in the learning stage, but I love the colors of this set; I am thrilled with them. As for brand names, I definitely have favorites. For pencils, oil based are the way to go…I hate the wax bloom of Prismacolor Premiers and other wax based pencils (years ago, this didn’t bother me…LOL). Well, people rave about Polychromos, but they are out of my price range. I have found that Marco Raffine pencils are TERRIFIC. A set of 72 for under $20. I am on my 2nd set of these. At home, I am still using up the little stubs remaining from my first set….there will be NO waste…LOL. For gel pens, I have tried LolliZ, and I like them. I also have Color Technik in glitter and metallic, and like those too. I am satisfied, but don’t know if there’s anything better out there. I avoid using neon gels, which won’t show up in a picture scan AT ALL.
What are the top 3 coloring tools you would not want to be without?
My clipboard….it’s old, have had it so many years, but it’s so valuable to me. I color everything on it. I now break apart all books….not all at once. I use a box cutter, close to the inner binding, to remove the page I want to color (IF the page is not perforated). So, the clipboard is a necessary tool.
Next would be a white gel pen. I bought a set of 3, and use them specifically for fixing marker mistakes….yep….if something trickles outside the black line, the white gel pen does the trick. I can see it on the page, but it will NOT show up on the scanner! I also use them for a bit of highlighting on a dark color…..or to add a “star” on a gem…adding doodling to a black background on a rare occasion.
Last but not least, my absolute favorite tool is my Kum (German) little teeny metal pencil sharpener (that houses 2 spare blades on the side).
What are some of your favorite coloring books, artists, and styles of coloring art?
I have so so many coloring books. Some of my favorites are from the Dover Creative Haven line. My favorites in this line are Creative Cats, and the Owls book. This line has single-sided pages that are perforated, decent quality paper.
There are a few specific artists I love. My hands are shaking now, as my most favorite artist of all is no longer with us….Jim Gogarty, aka Mandala Jim…..his detailed mandalas I love, love, love. I have colored a lot by him, and have a lot of free donated images yet to color. He will be greatly missed.
Thanks to the Adult Coloring Book Treasury, I have discovered more artists; one being Christine Aldridge. Joe Shivery is another artist whose work I love; his drawings are so very unusual. I also like Julian Trocaru; his work is also unique.
Styles of coloring art: Well, I color a lot of different things. What I do NOT do is realism, I will NOT do grey scale, and I will NOT do people… it’s skin coloring I cannot master.
I love coloring trees purple, and animals all different colors of the rainbow. My favorite types of pictures to color are mandalas and animals mostly, but I do color a lot of other types of designs…..including Day of the Dead/Sugar skulls; floral, scenery, on occasion, some abstract.
What do you look for when choosing a book or piece to color?
I love a challenge, so I prefer a lot of what I choose to have intricate details. I still have a lot of books/pictures with medium difficulty. Books 99% of the time, MUST have single sided pages, as I desire to make a choice to use markers or other wet media. The paper quality should be decent but does not have to be card stock. I prefer a smoother paper, rather than toothy. I prefer perforated pages, but that is not a necessity. I have purchased card stock for printing PDF downloads. I have only TWO books with double sided pages. I was able to see all images before purchasing, and made the decision to purchase them, because I will be happy using just pencils (or gels or pastels) on these, and no wet media.
What’s your favorite place to color? Do you have any coloring rituals?
I have one of those long white tables that fold in half. This allows me to do my coloring towards one end, (near the window) and place a great deal of supplies on the other half of the table. I have a tall cabinet in the room that houses all the rest of my supplies I do not use. I have THREE crates on the FLOOR that houses all my physical coloring books. I love coloring by the window, as there are woods out back, and I love the view (and so does my cat…LOL). I color nearly every single day. On a rare occasion, I will not color at all. Most days, I can color 4-5 pictures. Average is about 2-3 per day. I sometimes put music on. I love all types of music. It does not have to be soft or instrumental or soothing to color. Sometimes I enjoy country or oldies rock!
Do you do anything special with the pictures you color? How do you store them?
I am doing something new. I used to leave all colored pages in the books, but put individual colored downloads in plastic sleeves in a notebook. Now, as stated earlier, I am removing every single page I color, and I note the book and artist name on each picture before I scan it in. I am scanning everything to my computer and making photo albums on my computer (and also photo albums on my Facebook page). So, I got some big fat D-ring notebooks and tons more plastic sleeves, PLUS index dividers, and all my work is now in these notebooks…..THREE of them full of coloring book pages.
Last year for Christmas, I colored a lot of bookmarks. Some were free downloads, and some came from one of my books. I made copies of pages before coloring, so that I ended up coloring over 50 bookmarks. I signed the backs of them all and added “Merry Christmas 2015” Then, I had them laminated at the office supply store, and cut them out at home.
Inserted one in each Christmas card for ALL the tenants in my apartment building, and gave a few as gifts to friends.
Would you share a favorite color palette?
Oh dear…..I rarely use palettes for inspiration. While I understand (to an extent) the color wheel, the details beyond secondary colors are confusing to me. I will mix color families, I will mix warm and cool colors. However when coloring mandalas, one thing I agree with is that LESS is MORE. That is where I pay most attention to colors “that look good together” to me. I have a maximum of 5 colors in many of my mandalas. It could be blues with greens and yellow. It could be browns with oranges and yellow. It could be with reds, oranges, and yellow.
It could be black with grays and blues. So these would be MY favorite color palettes for mandalas.
What tip or piece of advice would you give to someone just getting into coloring?
The best advice I would give is that there is no such thing as a WRONG color.
If money is an issue, the best things to start with is a Dover coloring book (cheaper than most) OR free downloads from artists, Crayola pencils, Sharpies or Bic Markers….(none of these will break the bank) and all will do a good job for a “newbie.”
Do NOT worry about anyone else’s rendition of the same picture. Never underestimate YOUR work.
What coloring groups, websites, or resources do you recommend?
Two of my favorite coloring groups on Facebook are Coloring Books for Adults, and Adult Coloring Worldwide. The first has near to 45,000 members, and the second has over 25,000 members. Both groups are well represented with colorists world-wide. Most coloring book artists are members of these groups and donate a lot of free pages for your coloring pleasure. You have the advantage of getting tips, ideas, advice and shopping deals from the members. There are many smaller groups too, but some are artist-specific, so be careful of joining those that require you only share pictures by that artist.
Websites and resources…..the best by far, is Amazon for anything coloring related. Dickblick is also a desired source, as many pencils or markers can be purchased individually.
Barbara is 64 and lives in Ashland Ohio.
Thank you for taking the time to answer this interview, Barbara! I’ve enjoyed learning your story and I love the bookmark idea for Christmas cards!
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