Six Tips to Improve Your Coloring

By Joanna Campbell Slan

Although it seems like a fad, coloring was first prescribed by Carl Jung as part of his therapeutic regime for adults.¬†For years now, therapists have suggested using coloring books as a way for adults to self-sooth. One theory is that the smell of the crayons reminds us of happier times and our childhood. It’s also likely that the repetitive motion of our hands as we fill in spaces is soothing. Or maybe it’s simply that creativity is a basic human need. (I like that theory; it makes sense to me.)


Today coloring books for grown-ups are hot, hot, hot.

I love to color; I always have loved coloring, even since I was a kid. My preference is using color pencils.

Here are six of my best tips for improving your colored pencil skills.

  1. Choose the right surface. I like glass under my paper. Self-healing craft mats tend to be too lumpy. The smoother the surface, the better your final product.
  2. Buy the best crayons or pencils that you can afford. Cheaper pencils have less pigment, making it harder to “lay down” the colors.
  3. Use a craft knife or a sharpener and an emery board to sharpen the point of your pencil. Sharpen your pencils as soon as the point goes dull. If you get in this habit, your pencil will always be ready for you and you’ll waste less of the pencil when you sharpen it.
  4. Erase your mistakes with kneaded rubber erasers. Yes, they really are different from ordinary erasers, and worth the price.
  5. Blending colors is an art. You can blend them by overlapping or changing the strokes, by using a white pencil over your strokes, by using a tortillion (a paper stub) or a blending pencil, and/or by using nail polish remover. To do the latter, dip a cotton swab into the remover and lightly touch it to the pencil marks. The results are amazing!
  6. Take the time to learn a little about colored pencil techniques. A little education will help you get the best final product.

Do you like to color? Which do you prefer: crayons or pencils? Comment here or at Killer Hobbies and I’ll choose one lucky commenter who’ll win a set of colored pencils. It’s a lovely set that I bought from Staples. (I got one for myself, too.) I’ll announce the winner this coming Friday.

Decorating Composition Notebooks

This is a perfect time of year to buy composition notebooks at a great price. Big box chains like Walmart and Target, as well as drugstores like Rite Aid and CVS, all have these notebooks at reduced prices.

I suggest you grab a handful and have a notebook decorating party.

Above are a few of my faves. (Starting upper left, going clockwise)

1. Nana–I started with a red background color on the front and back. Tip: Lightly sand your notebook cover to make the paper grip. Add bits of scrap paper in red tones. I painted a piece of chipboard and used rub-on letters to write “Nana.” Then I punched a hole in the upper right corner and tied on some ribbon. Last, I glued a piece of velvet along the spine and added sequins.

2. Shop ’til You Drop–The inspiration for this notebook was a marketing flyer I found. It had all the little shops on it. Since notebooks don’t need to be acid-free, think outside of the box and use magazine photos or promotional materials. (Yeah, rah, recycling!) I added my initial from a QuickKutz font and a penny.

3. Gryffindor–I think this Harry Potter sticker came with a Happy Meal or some other sticker pack. I wrapped ribbon around a slide mount and “framed” the sticker.

4. DS–I had some embellishments left over after I did a golfing page for my husband. Again, I used my Quick Kutz lettering tool for the DS. On the very center page (with the stitching) I added a silky thread and a metal tag. I stamped the word “Dad” and colored the tag with chalk.

Think of all the ways you could use these notebooks: party favors, stocking stuffers, thank you gifts, teachers’ gifts, and again, why not plan a party around making up a bunch of them? They’re easy, cheap, and useful.

My kind of scrapping!