Let’s talk about putting the fun back into colored pencils.
If that seems like an odd topic to you, you probably haven’t been using colored pencils very long.
But if you’ve worked with colored pencils any length of time, you know how easy it is to begin thinking of them as tedious tools. Once that happens, the fun soon oozes out of drawing, and days slip past without picking up a pencil.
Once the fun disappears, it seems like things will never change. I know. I’ve been there.
But I can tell you from personal experience that you can put the fun back into colored pencils, and it’s not as hard as you might think.
This article follows up an article from a few weeks ago, and is the result of a question asked by a reader named Kae.
Kae was struggling with many of the same issues most beginning artists face, but let’s allow Kae to ask the question.
I am very new to colored pencils. As I learned my drawing skills, I wanted color to ‘pop’ my drawings. So enter colored pencils. But they seemed to look so amateurish, but being such, I guess that is the only way they might look. To use them seems so laborious and I don’t know how to make them be fun in creating the color. Any suggestions?
I answered Kae’s question about getting past the amateurish look, and also shared a few tips for reducing some of the labor of drawing with colored pencils. So this week, we’ll take a look at ways to make colored pencils fun again.
Putting the Fun Back into Colored Pencils
This is a topic we all need to think about from time to time, especially if we’re a professional or full-time artist. We’re told that if we want to make a living at art, we need to treat it like a business, not a hobby. Unfortunately, that mindset makes it all too easy to treat the drawing process like work, too
If you’re a busy artist, it’s oh-so-easy to do art only for clients. Portraits take up all your time, and creative energy, so you stop doing fun things. After a while, every time you pick up a pencil, it’s for “work.” For a while, that’s okay. There is a certain thrill in making art that’s already sold or that’s bound for a big show.
But after a while, drawing or painting starts to feel more like an obligation than a pleasure. You still do it because it’s what you do, but the joy of creating starts to fade away.
Trust me. I was there for forty years!
The longer you continue on that path, the more the fun ebbs away. Eventually, if you’re not careful, it becomes just a faded memory.
But it doesn’t have to remain a faded memory. Here are some things I’ve done to put some fun back into making art.
Doodling lets you make art that’s not “serious” and lets you play
Make use of spare time to doodle with colored pencil. It doesn’t matter what you doodle, or with how many colors. What matters is that you’re putting pencil to paper in a manner that’s not “important” or “serious.”
You don’t even need to have top-of-the-line tools. Just carry a pencil or two and a small pad of paper with you and when you find yourself waiting somewhere, start doodling!
Drawing outside or from life gives you an endless selection of subjects
One of the best things I did to force myself to start drawing for a reason other than “for work” was issuing myself a personal challenge the fall of 2016. The challenge was easy. I promised myself to draw outside at least once a week throughout September and October.
I did that again this past September. When the month was over, I continued the personal challenge. So far, I haven’t missed very many weeks.
But the best part is that I’m doing little sketches and drawings of a variety of subjects in a variety of locations and am learning how to have fun drawing again.
The bonus is that the extra time drawing is improving my ability to draw more serious pieces, too.
You don’t have to draw outside (though I recommend you try it at least once.) If outdoors doesn’t work for you, draw something inside instead. It doesn’t need to be big or complex, either. The leaf on a houseplant, for example.
Play with your colored pencils to restore the joy of drawing
Playing with colored pencils takes many forms. Adult coloring books. Fantasy drawing. Drawing from imagination.
I keep some homemade coloring pages beside the bed. When I don’t have a book to read, I spend ten to twenty minutes coloring a few parts of the current page. Right now, I’m working on a geometric design with only six colors—one each of the primary colors and one each of the secondary colors.
There are plenty of coloring books available. If you want to try a few pages without the expense, search for free downloadable pages on Pinterest and you’ll have plenty to choose from.
Or draw something whimsical or imaginary.
Or draw something real in a whimsical manner.
The possibilities are endless, limited only by the subjects you best like to draw.
Find Your Own Ways to Put the Fun Back into Colored Pencil Drawing
Putting the fun back into colored pencils doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult. In fact, those are the last things it should be!
But my suggestions are only suggestions. There are a number of other things to try, too. So let your imagination run and see what you come up with!