helpful tips for happy coloring…



I’m writing this post for my friend, Denise.  She has discovered coloring books and we were recently at the art store choosing different pencils and markers for her activity.  I have been seeing coloring books everywhere over the last year and finally decided on one to purchase.  I loved to color when I was little and like many folks, I like activities like this to de-stress.  I always keep notes on my creative processes so I thought I would share some tips for Denise and whomever else might like some.

  1.  Choose a page you don’t care about to experiment and keep tips on.  All the paper in the different coloring books is going to be different.  I tried all my different kinds of pencils and erasers. I also tested a sharpie fine point marker to see if it bled through the page.
  2.   The best tip I’ve ever happened upon is this:  When you sharpen your pencils, hold the pencil in your non-dominant hand and use the sharpener in your dominant hand.  That opposite to normal reaction makes all the difference.  Crazy, I know, but it really works.
  3.   The best sharpener I’ve ever used is one from Prismacolor.  It looks like a black cigar and it works like a charm.  Every time.
  4.   I tried 4 different erasers on my paper and only one stood out.  The Faber-Castell one fits the bill.  I couldn’t entirely remove the pigment but it worked enough to cover with another color.  I tried blue as blues are usually quite staining.
  5.   I sorted all my different pencils by color using an old baking tray, cigar box and drawing pencil tin.  I just used some scrap paper and tape to create barriers to separate the colors.  I have over the years bought single pencils from different brands to test them.  I have a set of Prismacolor Premiers but at some point, dropped them in my studio and they are all broken inside the shaft and are nearly impossible to sharpen and use.  Lesson learned.  I keep all the little pieces in a small box because I really like the buttery feel of those pencils and use them in my other mixed medium works.  I really like the Prismacolor Veri-Thin line though, and would consider more of those and they don’t seem to break as easily.
  6.    Keep a clean sheet of paper, copy paper works fine, for using under your coloring hand.  Keeps the image you are working on free of oil.  Also, if you have a desk lamp, set it up exactly opposite of your natural coloring hand angle.  I color right-handed, I notice the slant of my arm and move my lamp exactly opposite.  This keeps the shadow of your hand out of your line of vision.  I like to use a soft, clean brush to brush away excess pigment and erasures.
  7.    I have a blending pencil but do not like it.  I prefer to use my white Prismacolor Premier pencil as a base and most of the other pencils do well on top of it.  It also makes it easier to erase around the edges.  You can also use the white pencil lightly on top of pigment to ease blending of colors.
  8.   Of all the pencils I’ve tried (8 brands), for ease of use and sharpening, price and availability, you can’t beat the cheap ones produced by Rose Art.  A great bargain for a whole bunch of colors.  I would skip the Crayola cheapies, they are truly cheap.
  9.   I have tried 4 brands of the white pencil and like the Prismacolor Premiere best.  I absolutely love the Derwent Coloursoft pencils the best but before I buy a set, I’d have to throw the one I have around my studio first to see if it breaks inside before I hand over the money for a set.
  10.   A list of my pencil preferences:

A.  Prismacolor Veri-thin

B.  Derwent – Coloursoft

C.  Koh-I-Noor Woodless

D.  Rose-Art

E.  Faber – Castell Polychromos

F.  Lyra

G.  Prismacolor Premiere

H.  Crayola


The nice thing about a local art store is that you can go in and test the pencils out.  If you don’t have one, you can buy singles from Dick Blick online and test them out.  If all you have is a big box store, you can usually find the Rose Art brand in those.  Good luck and happy coloring, I hope you find some of these tips useful.  Cheers!!



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I have been taking all the loose pieces of paper in my many boxes and binding them into books.  I was inspired by Orly Avineri and her incredible video that you can see on her Facebook page.  This book uses a torn up class assignment from a watercolor class 20+ years ago. I keep all my work to see my growth.  I love how this book turned out.

This is also a test post to see how photos from Instagram, made with my phone, show up in a blog post.  Cheers.

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holy moly…

misty1 misty2 misty3How can it already be 2016? I’ve been making a mess of a blog since 2008, starting with my blogger blog.  Eight years in March.  So many things have, of course, happened along the way.  I’m a mother to a high school senior getting ready for college and partner to a hard-working spouse. I’ve cooked hundreds (if not a thousand) meals, cleaned a house, done loads of laundry (load is the perfect word for laundry), fed and watered 2 pets, planted a garden or two, and taken 2 Misty Mawn workshops in the middle of 2 Minnesota winters.

It’s not quite the Alaskan or Canadian tundra but in January and February, but it can come quite close. And I love it.  I never feel guilty about spending days in my studio getting messy and playing with my paints and such.  In the spring, summer and autumn months, one feels compelled to be outside, at least I do.  I need to soak up as much of the weather and world on my daily Spirit walks, yard duties and farmers market trips as I can.  But then there is so much else to do in addition to the regular chores that I find myself just being in my wife-life a full-time thing.

So, here I am.  Signed up for yet for my 3rd winter art adventure, thanks to my husband’s generosity.  Misty is an amazingly generous teacher and could I afford to travel to Italy, I’d go there with her in a heart beat.  Content I am though, to stay here in my studio and do the magical winter workshops  I hope she continues to provide.  I’m also so grateful to my bloggy buddy, Patty, for posting about Misty’s workshops.  I’ve created three collages above of some of the work I created in her classes the last 2 winters.  If you are so inclined, here is the link where you can sign up.  Cheers and Happy New Year!

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…day trip to Bayfield… a stormy day forecast sent us on another road trip to Bayfield…the lupines were waving in the wind and the whitefish lunch was fantastic…in addition to our wander around town, we went up into the hills a bit to find the orchard areas…nestled among the fruit trees is the Apostle Highlands Golf Course…what a gorgeous course…so a little bit for everyone today…flowers and golf…it was a good day….

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day trip…

IMG_7344 yesterday my husband and i went on a day trip to an organic grower’s nursery south of Hastings, MN…we went in search of MN hardy climbing roses to replace the grapes we lost in our backyard because the dog decided they were just too fun to rip off the lattice work of our patio where they provided much needed shade (and wonderful grapes!)…we brought a picnic lunch and on the way back, we found this place to picnic…the LeDuc Historic Estate…this is a photo heavy post but I thought it worth the effort…first photo above is the rear of the estate from the parking lot…IMG_7352

lovely blooming anemones…IMG_7359

the grape arbor with several heirloom varietals…IMG_7363

the barn mosaic quilt painting…IMG_7367


old rusty stuff…IMG_7380

the grape arbor again…IMG_7383 the side porch…


walnut tree…IMG_7419

the violet patch…IMG_7424 IMG_7436

the front of the house…you can just imagine how very grand it is in person…the limestone bricks are enormous…IMG_7446lightening rods…

there were several out buildings…a carriage house, a hen house with chicks ready to grow, a large storage building adjacent to the grape arbor…and cellar doors straight out of the wizard of oz…we didn’t go inside preferring to save that for another day…

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mama bird…


in the Japanese Garden at Como…i saw mama robin gathering inch worms in her beak and then happened upon this…was happy to share the discovery with another mom who had a small boy with her…(click on the photo to see a better close-up of mama)

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como park conservatory…


The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory in Como Park turned 100 this year.  1915 – 2015.  If you ever visit St. Paul, it is definitely worth a day trip.  Get there early though, parking spots fill up fast!

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