my adult coloring story

Colouring an illustration by @happydoodleland . . . #adultcoloringbook #coloringbook #coloring

A photo posted by Michelle Lynne Goodfellow (@emelgy) on

It all started with adult coloring books. They were everywhere, after the success of Johanna Bamford’s Secret Garden, and the subsequent wave of interest in adult coloring.

I picked up a few here and there, mostly in bargain bins at bookstores, or as impulse buys from drugstore magazine racks.

From the start, I was less interested in coloring and more interested in making my own drawings, so I never coloured in the adult coloring books I bought. I told myself that they were inspiration for future artwork.

A friend passed along to me an adult coloring book that he had tried and didn’t want, and I finished one of his pages (below). But I was still kind of like, meh. I didn’t want to colour, myself.

Then I bought the Pocket Posh Botanicals coloring book by Flora Chang, and coloured the page at the beginning of this post. I used these coloured pencils. I was pretty happy with how it turned out. (Plus I really liked Chang’s doodle drawings. I wanted to make drawings like hers.)

If you scroll through my Instagram feed from that point on, you can see a visual record of what happened. I started drawing again in earnest (after a long period of not doing much drawing or art journalling) – first imitating some of the work by others that I really admired, and then playing with my own style.

And it was play. It was a way to pass the time that put me in the zone, or flow state. I kept coming up with new ideas to try, and it felt good at the end of each day to see the things that I had created.

At some point it occurred to me that I wanted to share my drawings online (I mean, more than just photographing them on Instagram). I wanted other people to be able to colour my drawings. And my first downloadable adult coloring page was born.

How do you come up with ideas for your adult coloring pages?
I follow a lot of artists and illustrators on Instagram, and I my Instagram feed is always inspiring to me. I also save a lot of illustration, art journal and zentangle pins on Pinterest as inspiration.

But honestly, a lot of the time I just play around in my art journals and sketchbooks until I come up with something interesting.

Do you have any visual arts training, or are you self-taught?
I studied design at university for my first degree (a Bachelor of Science in Clothing, Textiles and Design), and I studied visual arts for two more years after that, thinking that I wanted to get a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting, but ultimately transferred out of the program and finished my Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies, instead. So yes, I have visual arts training.

I’ve also worked for many years professionally as a writer, editor, desktop publisher and in-house photographer in the social services sector, and have illustrated a few publications like this one for clients.

I love drawing, and over the years have filled many sketchbooks and art journals with my drawings, often using them as illustrations on my blogs and websites.

How do you create your adult coloring pages?
I use a scanner and several computer programs to save the pages electronically, so I draw all my originals on individual sheets of paper. I usually choose plain, 8 1/2 x 11″ sheets of printer paper, since they fit best in my scanner.

Once the drawing is done, I scan it as a picture, and save the file as a JPEG. I then open up the image file in PhotoShop to crop it, adjust the contrast so that the lines are dark and the background is pure white, and then I clean up any smudges, or discoloured areas left behind by the scanning process.

Finally, I save the image both as a JPEG and as a PDF, and then update the metadata in the PDF using Adobe Acrobat so that the PDFs are optimized for online search engines.

Then I upload the finished files to blog posts on this blog, and they’re yours!

I love drawing adult coloring pages. Every day I have dozens of ideas for new ones, and making the drawings is very enjoyable. I hope you enjoy them as much when you’re coloring them!

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Would you like more free, hand-drawn adult coloring pages like this? You can find an index of my adult coloring pages here.