Although I’ve been drawing for many years, I’ve always been shy of using colors. Growing up, my siblings and I always had access to crayons, paints, markers, pencils, tons of paper, the whole shebang. Why would I spend so long drawing only in black & white and grayscale?
Fear of “Not doing it right”. I had some early influences in my life that raged on about “color theory” and how certain colors are supposed to go together or should never be put together. This put the fear of failure in my head that I would never be able to get my colors “right” or that I would wasted precious precious paints on projects that would turn out terrible. So as the years went on, I concentrated more on pencil & pen work rather than working with paints. Although I had spent a few years of my life painting miniatures, that too became a sense of failure that I would waste materials.
From 1998 to 2010, I barely touched anything color at all. I had purchased watercolors sets and new paints and pencils and tons of paper thinking that I’ll just jump right in, but I still had this inner fear of wasting materials trying to learn how to properly use my colors.
“Oh, I don’t have anything interesting enough to paint”
“I don’t have the EXACT right colors for this project”
“This should be in paints I don’t own”
“If I get this wrong, it’s going to blow the painting”
It was excuse after excuse in my head that prevented me from putting colors in my drawings and really becoming an artist.
Then, in 2010 I signed up for a Painting 101 course at Portland Community College (PCC). I was hopeful to learn color theory a bit more and get some confidence in paints again. I really struggled for weeks to let go of perfectionism in every brush stroke and just let the color flow. I worked mostly with acrylics but started dabbling with the travel watercolor set I bought in 2008 but never really touched. This all turned into a break-through for me.
I got an A in the class and had fellow students asking for help. I was flattered and full of confidence.
Soon after the painting course, I got another tech job so my artwork tapered off almost completely, but in the last year or so, I’ve been diving right in again in a hope to become a full-time illustrator.
I started looking at blogs like http://www.colourlovers.com/ to get exposed to all sorts of different color combinations, found so many color-related groups on Flickr and started to favorite very colorful pieces that I would find on DeviantArt.
My daily bag to work became loaded with sketchbooks, travel-watercolor sets and water-brushes to encourage me to draw and paint during my lunch breaks.
I became entranced with color. I wanted to put it in all my sketches.
Then, the Bike Parade! coloring book project came to be and I started painting like a madman.
My little travel water-color set started seeing some heavy usage and I learned that a little bit of water paint goes a REALLY long way. I must have done 50+ full page paintings with this little set and it still has tons of paint. I had no idea it would ever last this long.
Now, I’m working on more paintings from the Bike Parade! book and sketching out my first children’s books. I will continue immersing myself in paint and improving as much as possible, but right or wrong, I’m still embracing color in my life.
Resources for color immersion: