The ‘adult’ coloring book craze is in full swing, despite the popular nomenclature giving some of us the creeps. (Me, anyway.) So my mother and I attempted a couple of relaxing hours playing with her new Prima Tropical watercolor set and Crayola watercolor pencils and markers. I searched for paper that could support at least light washes of watercolor paint, with bolder graphics than some of the minutely detailed books have. One of my favorites is made by Prima. They have at least four volumes… one is ‘faith based’, one is phrases, one seems to be more detailed designs… I ordered this Prima book, volume 2, which was under $10, and seemed to have mostly simple designs that shouldn’t overwhelm a new-to-painting artist. The paper is really thick, very nice watercolor paper, and designs are varied. I also found this Secret Garden book on Amazon… I didn’t realize in addition to the gorgeous coloring storybooks offered, they also have made-for-framing pages on heavier paper. The designs are so beautiful. A little more challenging than I thought the two of us would want to tackle, but I wanted plenty of options so ordered it as well. Both of these are high quality paper and great images. The Prima offers simpler drawings and the four different themes, so for what I wanted it is the winner, but The Secret Garden thing is really lovely. Also, at only $6.11 right now, it is a FABULOUS deal. REALLY high quality. If you are at all interested in trying some coloring pages with paint or markers, this might be a good place to begin.
I also found this box of 44 cards for $4.01… a pretty good deal I thought. Too small for postcards, sadly, but sweet encouragement to tuck into a lunchbox or greeting card, and good little practice cards. Some with very tiny detail and some simpler cards. (I like the two listed above better, though)
I found some little coloring notecards and gift tags at Michaels which I will be listing in my Easy store soon (I’ll add a link when it is up and running!) These held my paint well yesterday, not very wet washes, but copic markers do bleed through to the back. Both the paints and watercolor pencils did well. Michaels also had a selection of books for $5 suitable for watercoloring, in various themes, (I chose travel), and another larger faith based book with pretty, uncomplicated drawings. Now we have LOADS of options. Too many.
And about the watercolor pencils… I looked at all kinds of “student artist” as well as artist quality watercolor pencils and markers, and finally decided to just try Crayola. I know they don’t use artist grade pigments and aren’t lightfast etc… but I wasn’t even sure Mom would want any of this. I was very pleased by their bold strokes! If you just want to play around with them a bit to see if you like the idea, you can get a good feel for the watercolor pencil craze from the Crayola set, for just a few dollars.
(Also, if you are thinking about a little paint set to try, while I do highly recommend the Primas for a delightful sensory experience, I just ordered this Windsor & Newton Cotman (student) set for $12.99, 12 colors with a (supposedly) really nice travel brush included! Neither of these sets will be artist quality paints, but I suspect the Cotman is a higher quality paint to learn with than the Primas, and they do give pigment information for their paints, and you can purchase replacement pans. The case is very simple, but sufficient, if you don’t mind a plastic case. (paths is where the Primas have a huge advantage, in my opinion) I hesitated, because the paints are “hues”, which artists suggest you avoid using, if you can afford better, but in my reading I also learned from several artists that they really like some of the Cotman colors, even hues (and some they listed are included in this set) so for $13, this may be a really good starter set. I’ll let you know! They should arrive tomorrow… wow. Two days.)
Back to our coloring book day… we got a cheap set of tiny brushes with plastic handles from Michaels ($2!), and I cut their handles down more so they’d fit inside the little paint tin, and sanded them smooth with a nail file. They are very short, but they work. I had actually ordered these travel brushes, but they haven’t arrived yet. They are for nail art… yeah, fingernail polish!… they are supposedly sable (??)… I’m not sure I believe that, for the price, but they are a very affordable replacement for travel watercolor brushes to fit into the little travel sized paint tins (like Prima), with lids that protect the bristles during travel, then snap on the back to lengthen the handle for painting. They have several sizes, and even have flat brushes (if you hunt for them) Sable or synthetic or whatever they are, they feel nice. I had ordered an individual one previously, and gave it away (after trying it!), so I already know I like these, and I’m bummed I didn’t have them in time to give Mom one or two. The one I tried holds water well and keeps a nice point while painting. A professional artist may not approve… but I love them and look forward to their arrival! A nice little secret find!
We played around with several different coloring and painting techniques. And I found that coloring books ARE relaxing and fun. An hour well spent.