I’ve gotten ahead in my lesson planning enough that I can finally work on my coloring book project again. This project is my passion, it means a lot to me. I got the idea in February of 2020. I had stopped drawing completely for over a decade and a half, and stiffness and poor eyesight made it hard to pick up again. Playing with my daughter’s digital drawing tablet let me zoom in on lines and be able to hit undo, making art accessible. So, I got my own.
At the same time, I hit a long term goal that had a reward attached. I once tried to start a collection of carnivorous plants and killed them all, quite quickly. I promised myself that if I got a Venus Flytrap to go into and come out of dormancy, then propagated it, I would allow myself to try again. It took almost a decade of buying them when they showed up in the fall in grocery stores, but it finally happened. In the excitement of watching my baby flytraps grow while drawing again, the coloring book idea became inevitable. The project itself justified me making a nice starter collection a priority, and has given me reason to not give up when my little garden has its setbacks.
This is why my project is going so slowly, I’m meandering through while I gain experience growing and researching the plants, as well as allowing myself time to regain my drawing skills and experiment with style and technique. It’s been frustrating how long it has taken me, but I love sitting in my little carnivorous garden sketching, so I’ve been able to tell myself that it will happen eventually. After a year with the tablet, I was able to use pencil and paper again, letting me brush off skills that have been rusty way too long. Now, I’ve finally gotten brave enough to begin adding ink. No single page is done yet, some have still barely been worked on, but many of them are to the point that I no longer have to worry about if I will be able to get the lines right, the fear of the tiny mistakes I still make are no longer enough to hold me back, and I’m able to celebrate the confidence I’ve had to make myself feel to get to this point.
And with that, the last of the designs and recolors I posted about last time is officially up, the previous gallery of potential requests has come to an end. Since it did indeed seem to help my visibility and sales to post every Friday, I’ll keep that up.
Meanwhile, something cool happened. I got a microscope. Now, not only can I improve the art I have planned for a few pages, but I can also treat the bladderwort food I culture like a pondwater life safari. I’ve had it about a week, and it’s been a blast. So, this round of weekly designs and recolors to feed the algorithm gods features a repeatable tile I drew by hand using little paper squares in an old school analog style offset filter. They make nice desktop wallpapers, so I put them up on the goodies page for download.
I am very much enjoying the path my project is going down. It looks like it will be three parts, and I’ve finished the research and most of the writing for the first two thirds of the coloring book. I’m mostly alternating between that and layout planning, but recently decided to stop and sort out a few things about techniques I’ll use when drawing the pages.
This meant I ended up with a few drawings to play around with, and I thought I’d seize the chance to pay a little quiet heed to the Redbubble algorithm gods in the hopes that my art supplies can start to pay for themselves. Supposedly, releasing designs on a weekly basis can help increase their visibility, so I figure I’ll give it a shot. Every Friday I’ll post a new design or a recolor for a bit, see how it goes. That would be this store: –> the one right here.
Rather than posting an announcement every time something goes up, I thought it would be less spammy to have a little gallery to pin. Since I can’t really think of a good reason to keep the upcoming designs a secret, and in fact it might benefit me to provide people with a chance to request something now, here’s a little preview of the designs and recolors I’ll be occasionally posting over the next few weeks. If you see something you would like on a shirt or book or whatnot, certainly let me know and I will definitely put it up right away, I have fancy paper and inks to buy. All recolors of the skull over the pitcher plant have both a tall version and square version that removes the dome and stems.
Anyway, it’s time to stop playing around and get back to this project, toodles!
I am mightily enjoying my new journal, even though I’ve been working on it since November, and have only just finished my first real entry. I am not fast at this, but I like where it’s going. Over the last couple of months, I’ve gotten starter supplies of watercolor, watercolor pencil, and gouache to enhance my colored pencil game. It’s been years since I’ve played with these, I gave away all of my art supplies except my colored pencils long ago. Every page will be an experiment, but unlike the mess that is my normal sketchbook, it will be a thought out and planned experiment with a purpose, helping me build so many skills at the same time. I love this stuff so hard.
Now it’s time to move onward. I’ve learned just enough about telling monocots vs. dicots to figure out this could be useful info for me to have. I’m not usually interested in identifying grass-like plants, so it’s not a skill I’ve picked up yet. As the kind of person who finds treasures in “weeds”, knowing more about grasses has always been on my to-do list, so it looks like it’s time. Plus, I recently got some vanilla cuttings, and I know zip about orchids. I can study that, and my ginger. I’ll meander that direction now, and use the illustrations to refine my color blending skills using my new fancy worksheet I whipped up.
This should make things go more smoothly than fumbling around with different colors each time. I designed it thinking I could print it out on any paper I wish, then test whatever material I wish, but I’m low on printer ink. Figures. Anyway, if you want to try it as well, here you go.
I’m not a fan of exploring nature in the winter. I’d rather browse books of sketched winter scenes, while under a blanket with some cocoa. This normally makes winter rather dull for me. This year was looking up to be a little better, with about a dozen small containers of infant carnivorous plants to tend to. Still, I’ve been sad to think of the dormant season, watching my little porch bog slow down and slumber. I figured I’d pass the time by focusing on refreshing my art skills a little, but at some point I lost or gave away all my art books. I’ve only been drawing again since February, and half of that time was spent familiarizing myself with my new digital tablet.
So, I splurged on three new books over the last couple of months, and while they are all lovely and worth every penny, I’ve gone full fan girl on The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling, by John Muir Laws. It’s about an inch thick, and every page has me itching with excitement to get drawing. I ran across the book looking for spider anatomy, leading me to his excellent guides on his website. I had to wait a month before I could squeeze this book into the budget, and it was so worth the wait.
Besides providing a quality basic education on art and composition, it is also excellent for teaching you how to look at your subjects with new eyes, and a fresh curiosity. I love my little tiny seedlings, I wander over to them and look at them several times a day. But, sadly, they don’t change much from one viewing to the next. Even having plant babies indoors wasn’t taking the disappointment out of winter. Only now, simply spending a couple of days with this book has me asking new questions. Each little arrangement is starting to become a home of mysteries to explore. I also have some pet spiders and isopods to observe, and unidentified plants coming up in my terrarium. My life is now full of subjects to investigate while my garden sleeps.
Plus, I get to multi task. Each session of observation can serve to not only practice looking at the world with the eyes of a scientist, but also a chance to use the skills taught in the other two books I spoiled myself with. They are both beautiful enough to be coffee table books, if we had a coffee table. Or guests to impress. Regardless, they are relaxing and inspiring to browse through. This is going to be a lovely winter.