Coloring Square vs. Elbow Grease vs. the Money-Go-Round

Hmm, it’s been all of five minutes. Time to talk about another coloring square!


Hmm, it’s been all of five minutes. Time to talk about another coloring square!

After working with alcohol markers (and just plain markers) for all of the squares that I had completed up to this point, I wanted to branch out and try colored pencil.

Yeah, about that.


On the up side, I was able to do things that marker just doesn’t seem to be cut out for. Blending, shading, and overall subtlety are huge advantages of colored pencil. But hoo boy, the elbow grease required to do just what is pictured above was substantial. And of course, the colored pencils I was using date back a ways and as a result are rather fragile when pressure is applied.

The sharpener got a workout, is what I am saying.

However, as I chugged along, I started to realize that I could really stretch out and try some things now that everything wasn’t dictated by the tyranny of alcohol markers. Face it, they’re stunning in the final result but everything turns out like a lithograph or something.

Since it’s just art, and nobody was going to literally die over this, I decided to work with metallic crayons. 99 cents a box at Ollie’s!


Whoa, game changer!


I really liked the patina’d copper look I was getting on the corner pieces that look like flower bulbs. I did a colored pencil underlay and then went to town with up to 3 different crayons.

Once this was established as Being a Thing, I dug into the lower trays of the art supply case and produced what appeared to be pastel sticks. Since they were very blunt instruments, I nicked out a row of the color and then blended it in with colored pencil. I thought the pastel dust was getting pushed around into the design, but as time wore on it became clear I wasn’t working with pastels, ruining my expectation that I was boldly working in three mediums.


But check out that blending! Is that hot or WHAT!

Now I really liked how this square was coming along. It turns out my “pastel” sticks were actually crayon. But so what?

As ¬†worked and re-worked the design I was very pleased with the direction it took, of giving the impression of being some old ceremonial artifact that you’d perhaps find someplace ancient, like India.

(Disclosure: I have never been to India, obviously.)

Anyway, with this theme in mind, I really went all in on distressing the design and giving a “well worn” appearance to it, with metals accenting the piece all over. So maybe this was a decorative tile or ceremonial tray of some sort. Who cares, I was making art!


I kept using copper crayon to “dirty up” the design by working back into it from the edges inward (the opposite of how I normally color these). The red outer ring is a little jarring to me but the more I look at it I suppose it ties in with the “sense of place” that I was going for with the finished design.

Anyway, I’m back to using alcohol markers (they’re… addictive) for the next square but I had fun with this one. I’ll definitely be branching out into other techniques and maybe even away from Adult Coloring but hey, it’s alright if it feels good.

Author: Ethan Johnson

Words like silent raindrops.

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