Meet Coloring Enthusiast Deb Rucinski
For this week’s colorists spotlight series I’m introducing Deb Rucinski. Read on to learn more about Deb and how she finds peace through coloring. 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?
I have done crafts, painting, etc. most of my life. My paternal grandmother was an artist and after becoming a widow fairly early in life, she did art, crafts, and fixed dolls to help pay her property taxes and other bills. One of her children, my aunt, was born with Cerebral Palsy, so this meant my grandma had to stay home caring for her. My grandmother got me started with art. I have fond memories of sitting around the kitchen table painting with her when I was a young girl. She taught me so much of what I know. We sold the work at art bazaars and also by word of mouth. As I got a bit older, I painted less and less as schooling, work and my own family took my time.
In January of 2015, I was taken off of work and put on disability due to several health issues that also created fairly severe daily pain. I have worked my whole life, so not working at my age has been very difficult to accept; plus the loss of money has been tough for my family. I am no longer able to enjoy many of the physical activities I love, so had to find other things I could do. At first I busied myself with crochet, reading, and other crafts, but got bored quickly.
It was then that I found the Facebook Adult Coloring groups. I became inspired to get back into my art. I found that my art skills came back quickly to me. I love coloring and am now a member of many groups. I felt I wanted to do more and eventually created my own adult coloring group on Facebook and also co-admin a few other groups. I recently began coloring for several coloring book artist coloring teams and do book reviews of adult coloring books, as well. This all keeps me very busy along with my family’s activities. Adult coloring took hold of my life in ways I never expected.
Why do you color? What are the benefits of coloring for you?
Coloring gives me peace. It is very relaxing to me. It allows me to use my imagination and forget about my pain for awhile. It is a great stress reliever and it is something I love very much. I love creating and each picture I color or paint, I approach as a piece of art that I could frame for my wall. It is also a great feeling of accomplishment to see the finished piece and have so many people like it. My family is supportive of my coloring and my art, which I am very thankful for. For some, this is not the case. Their loved ones look down on it as an activity associated with children and a waste of time. However, is medically proven that it reduces stress and uses parts of the brain for vision and fine motor skills. It is very therapeutic and calming.
I am always trying to learn new techniques. One of the best things that coloring has brought me aside from the love of the art itself, is I have met and developed great online relationships with many wonderful members of the groups and adult coloring book artists from all over the world. We have connected over a common interest and get to know each other on a personal level. They feel like a second family to me. I only wish we all lived closer to each other. They have become an important part of my life.
What are your favorite media to color with? Do you have a particular favorite type or brand or coloring tools?
My favorite media is watercolor pencils, which I use the most, although I often work with a mixed media of watercolors, colored pencils, markers, traditional watercolors and acrylics. Occasionally, I will use gel pens, eye shadow, or pastels as well.
My current watercolor pencils are US Art Supply brand. They are the first set I bought and they are pretty nice. I can color lightly with them and when I blend them with water, they get more vibrant and the color goes a long ways. I can also use them several different ways. They are reasonably priced. However, they only have 36 different colors, which is the problem I have with them, so I would love to upgrade to the complete 120 count set of Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils. This would give me so much more color options when it comes to blending and shading and are just a finer quality watercolor pencil.
For colored pencils I have Crayola and CraZArt brands, and Prismacolor Premiers. I won the small tin of the Prismacolor pencils in a competition. I really like them very much, as they lay down color and blend beautifully, and am now hooked on them. I would love to get a larger set of them, as well.
For markers I like Bic Markits and Spectrum Noir. Spectrum Noir are a more reasonably priced alternative to Copic Markers, which are the top of the line, but quite expensive. Definitely not something I can afford. So I am very happy with these two brands.
What are the top 3 coloring tools you would not want to be without?
With my watercolor pencils, I can use them as a plain colored pencil or blend with water to become watercolor paint, and I like to work in layers. There are also many techniques to using them, which gives me more options when coloring. I usually copy the illustrations to the heavier card-stock, so the water will not damage the paper in my coloring books.
I also use white acrylic paint. It works well for highlighting small details. I tried several white gel pens for this purpose, but they all either clog, skip or will not write over certain mediums. So I opted to use the paint instead. I have no problems going over any medium with it.
What are some of your favorite coloring books, artists, and styles of coloring art?
Well, there are so many artists that I love, I couldn’t possibly list all their names. There is so much talent in this industry. I love coloring people (skin and hair tone), fantasy, animals, birds, butterflies, landscapes and florals, among other things. So some of my favorite artists in those genres, are Jason Hamilton, Hannah Lynn, Inge Dagmar Manders, Jenny Luan, Jane Maday, Olga Kostenko, and Christine Aldridge, just to name a few.
I am not fond of most mandalas. There is nothing wrong with them. They are beautiful and I know there is a huge fan base for them. I just feel like I do not know how to approach coloring them. However, there are some that I do love. Those that I do like are from artists Maui Indi, Dicebird, and Jim Gogarty. I do like some of the whimsical illustrations as well, such as from Johanna Basford, Hattifant, Robyn Brady and yourself, Sue Chastain.
I also like many of the Creative Haven and Dover books I have bought on Dover Publications. I can get a wide variety of the more life like and realistic images.
What do you look for when choosing a book or piece to color?
When I choose a book, there are so many things to consider. For myself, the most important things are paper thickness, image quality, illustrations printed on one side of the paper only and how detailed the images are.
The paper must be thick enough to accept most of the different coloring mediums I use. Most books are medium/standard weight, which will accept most everything except wet medium.
Image quality is important. I want the lines clear, with no fuzzy edges, pixelating or skips in the printed lines. The images need to be printed on one side of the paper only. This is important, in case of any bleed through issues from markers and some gel pens. This also allows me to frame my picture without losing the image on the backside.
I also look for how detailed the images are. I have some problems with eye strain and get cramping in my hands from arthritis and carpel tunnel, so the designs need to be a bit more open. I love a detailed illustration, but not so intricate that it is hard to see or that I would need a ultra fine point to be able to color it.
What’s your favorite place to color? Do you have any coloring rituals?
I color almost every day. Usually when I am alone or when my kids are doing other things. Often times in early morning or late at night. I do not currently have an office space or craft room set up, like many do, so I color on my kitchen table. It is large enough that I can put out most of what I need in front of me. I do have a spare room downstairs that is currently used for storage. I am considering turning this into my craft room. This will keep my kitchen table free.
I like to sit and listen to music and drink either my spring water or a cup of cappuccino or tea when I color. The music depends on my mood, but often times I listen to country music, 70’s classic rock, the oldies, or even country hymns, which really relaxes me and brings a feeling of peace.
I have family and friends who also like to color. There is nothing better than when we can get together and cook, color and have great conversation.
Do you do anything special with the pictures you color? How do you store them?
I have had some requests, which I have colored and given as gifts. I have framed several and hung in my home, and others are put in a binder to protect them. I am considering how to use them for crafts.
I have had several requests from people who wish to buy my finished colorings, but have had to tell them I cannot sell them. I am the colorist, not the artist, and it would be considered copyright infringement to sell them without permission from the artist. I am very careful of copyright laws, and full respect and support the artists.
So for now, the only thing I can sell is my own work and paintings.
Would you share a favorite color palette?
I love all colors, but I find that I love browns and blues together, aqua and purple, and orange and yellows. I really love the earth tones as well. So I tend to use these combinations frequently.
What tip or piece of advice would you give to someone just getting into coloring?
First, they need to be true to themselves. Color what they like and in their own style that makes them happy. They will not enjoy it if they are trying to do what someone else likes instead.
Find books that the illustrations appeal to them. There are many available. Start maybe with colored pencils, crayons and markers and see what they can do with them. They may prefer one over another.
Do not let the more advance colorists intimidate you. We all started at the beginning. Some people are happy coloring with simple colorings and no blending or shading, and there is nothing wrong with that. There are also those that want to do more. If they want to learn more techniques, there is so much on line for tutorials to teach them how to do it. This is how I keep learning. YouTube has a lot of tutorials, as well as other online sites.
I personally love seeing everyone’s colored work whether it is a beginner or simpler coloring, to the more advanced. I love them all.
Lastly, just relax and have fun with it. Do what makes you happy. There are no set rules.
What coloring groups, websites, or resources do you recommend?
My group is Adult Coloring Competition group in which we do bi-weekly coloring challenges, occasional giveaways and also post our regular colorings as well. There are also several artists who are members on my group and you can see many of their illustrations and their artist links are also provided. I also have provided many links to tutorials, products and book reviews, as well.
Another great group to get involved with is “Coloring Books For Adults.”
There are so many more groups, as well.
If you are unsure of designs you like and are just starting out, go to Dover Publications and sign up for the free sample pages delivered to your email every Friday. This gives you a wonderful idea of many different styles of coloring books. It is a good starting point. They also have great coloring books at reasonable prices and shipping.
Dick Blick is a good place to get art supplies and I find it is one of the more reasonably priced stores as well. They have student to professional grade supplies.
Coloring books are widely available now at local stores such as Walmart and Shopko. This is nice because you can page through them to see if you like them. Amazon is also a great source online. Unfortunately, with the growing popularity of adult coloring, the down side is there are now many people trying to cash in on artists hard work and making counterfeit/copycat books with stolen images, as well as books that do not have anything inside of them that the cover states they do. Many of these are poor quality books. Sue Chastain has a wonderful article on this and what to look for. Definitely read this article on Avoiding Bad Coloring Books.
My advice is for those not familiar with an artist or new to the adult coloring; if you see a book you like on Amazon, see if you can find the artist name and try to find the artists own site or link to see if you can purchase from them directly. If unable to do that, then at least read the reviews and also check them for the “look inside” feature that allows you to see some of the pages inside of the books. This way you know what you will be getting. Some of the bad books will not have this feature. There are a lot of great books on Amazon. Just do a bit of research to minimize getting one of the bad books.
Deb is 52 and lives in Wisconsin. She wraps up her interview with this advice: “Let your inner child out. Pick up some crayons, colored pencils and markers and a coloring book and have some fun. Let your imagination fly!”
Thank you for taking the time to answer this interview, Deb! I’ve enjoyed learning your story and your answers are chock full of useful nuggets! I know I will be referring back to your tips again and again and I’m sure others will, too.
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