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*Starting at Earth Day 2018, I decided to spread some everyday happiness with my neighbors, the UPS guy, people dropping off Amazon stuff, etc. So, I began putting a daily, decorated motivational message on my front door.
This project started as my personal notepaper. Then… it sort of grew.
At first, I wrote my messages in the white rectangle in the middle. Then, I hand-colored the border design.
Last week, I realized I could print these for the children in my family, so they had an area to color, but also an area to draw in. (They’re at the age where they love coloring, but they also love to draw.)
And then, I decided to make these available to everyone, free.
Click on each image below, and the related PDF will open for you to download. (These are 8 1/2″ x 11″ pages, and each graphic is linked to a different PDF.)
And then… I realized my other neighbors might enjoy this writing paper, too. So, I got an easy-to-remember Bit.ly URL, Free2Color.
After that, I created the following sign, colored it (by hand, of course), and taped it to our front door.
This goes along with another recent, hippie-style project for my neighbors:
Every morning during the week of Earth Day, I put a new message in one of my front windows. I printed the signs large enough so passers-by could read them when they’re on their way to work, or walking their dogs.
Most of the messages came from late 1960s’ and early 70s’ songs… things from Woodstock and the hippie era, in general. Others reflected similar attitudes.
Here were a few of them, stacked on my floor.
If you like this window-sign idea, the font is Elsie Swash Caps Black font, and the size should be at least 120 pts to be read by people passing by your home. (For other signs, I’ve used Placard GF at about 150 pts, and a few similar fonts.)
Generally, I printed them on two sheets of 8.5″ x 11″ paper, horizontal, and then I taped them together to make the window sign.
But then, I decided to create actual door signs, and color them. (They’re smaller and more fun to create. Generally, I design, print, and color them in one-week batches, in front of the TV.) You can download some of my door signs – already colored, or b&w copies you can color, yourself – at my Enthusiasm is Contagious post.
These projects come from my “still a hippie” soul, with the idea that doing nice things for other people – and putting more happiness into the world – is the right thing to do.
As a coloring book artist, I think it’s important to color your own drawings, so you understand the experience.
It’s why I create lots of different kinds of coloring books. Some people want big, bold areas to color. They want to complete them in one sitting.
Others want tiny, detailed areas, and pages that take a long time to complete.
And some want a mix of both in every coloring book.
My “Good Vibes” coloring book is a mix. This video shows one of my more detailed designs, and how I colored it. (It was a stressful, not-enough-sleep week, and coloring this was a way for me to get the tension out.)
I’ll post more videos like this, as I color my own pages. They may give you some ideas for how you’d color them… or, hey, maybe how you wouldn’t! LOL
Also, I was using three brands of coloring pencils: Pluqis, Prismacolor, and Staedtler.
I was impressed with Pluqis. For the low price, I expected very hard leads that wouldn’t blend well.
Instead, I love them. They’re not as brilliant as Prismacolor colors, but I often use Pluqis first. Then, I add dazzle with Prismacolor coloring (lightly) over the Pluqis areas, or using Prismacolor for highlights & shadows.
Tip: Prismacolor leads can be just slippery/oily enough that it’s difficult to color over them… unless you’re using another Prismacolor pencil, that is.
So, I usually sketch in my color ideas with Pluqis, first. If I don’t bear down too heavily on the paper, I can usually color over Pluqis with Prismacolor… but not always vice versa.
Prismacolor pencils are pretty much the top of the line for most coloring book enthusiasts. They’re soft, they blend well, and… yes, the price can be daunting. I bought their Manga set, which is priced fairly low at Amazon.com, and it includes some good, juicy brights and subtle darks.
This Christmas – like last year – we started kitchen gardens for friends & family.
They’ve been a great success. (My own green onions have been thriving for over a year now. I just keep cutting them back – to use in recipes – and the plants regrow bigger & more flavorful every time.)
Today, we delivered four green onion plants (already started) as Boxing Day gifts to the four managers of the apartments where we live.
If this sounds interesting to you, here are links to the instruction sheets (PDFs) I created. They explain how to start your own kitchen garden, using items from the produce department at your grocery store.
If you’ve signed up for updates when this website is updated, you may have seen (or soon will) announcements of “new” articles… that aren’t, really. Or, you may receive so many of those announcements, they look like spam.
Here’s what’s going on: I’ve been restoring old, old articles from my original HTML site, to this (WordPress) website. And, I’m back-dating them, when I have a pretty good idea of when those articles first appeared. (A lot are from around 1996 – 2004.)
If that’s a problem (especially if it looks like spam), it’s okay to use the UNsubscribe link at the foot of the email, and sign up again for the announcements, later this year.
(This is a major project, so I don’t expect to complete the updates until around December. And even that may be optimistic. I mean, these are hundreds of articles, and some of them need far better illustrations. In 1996, I did my best to keep entire webpages below 35k. Today, a 35k image can look fuzzy, or it’s a ridiculously small size.)
Anyway, that’s what’s going on, if “new” articles have dates from y-e-a-r-s ago, and look old, too. It’s because they are. (But the info in them is still useful, so I’m restoring them, a little at a time.)
Like many people, I’m working my way through “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up…” by Marie Kondo, also called the “KonMari” process. It’s about decluttering, and surrounding yourself only with things that bring you joy.
The process has been astonishing, and I’m still early in the process.
The following is this morning’s observation, which I shared elsewhere (in social media), but… well, you may enjoy this, too.
Clearing out, I keep stumbling onto things I’ll like but I know I’ll never use.
Or, an item that’s long past its “use by” date in the real world, but I’ve had the idea that “I might need this someday.”
Or, the reason I bought it…? Now, it’s LIGHT YEARS off my current and projected creative trajectory.
But, I’ll be honest. Letting go of the item is, on a small scale, kinda-sorta like a divorce.
The breakup itself can be difficult (or not), but the REALLY excruciating part is: letting go of the original dream.
You know… that “ooh, shiny” moment when I acquired whatever-it-is. The idea that it would be the coolest thing EVER, when I used it for… something. Often, that was some specific event or project that was part of an even larger, future vision.
And then, my life swerved in a different direction. A direction that made more sense and turned out pretty darned cool, and I do NOT regret it.
But each new adventure on that path took me even further from the earlier vision.
So, a lot of the stuff I’m letting go of now… it was part of a rosy, “what if..?” dream. But that’s in the past.
Often, the swerve in my life happened for an external reason. It’s WAY too easy to blame it on someone who really DID stand as an obstacle in my path, at that point. And he or she really WAS a jerk.
But, jerk or not, my life went in a different direction. And I had fun anyway. Probably a LOT more fun than I might have had, on the previous path.
Still, some of this process is like a divorce. And it’s FAR to easy to want to hold onto that old dream (and that related, old grudge)… IF I let myself do that.
The process isn’t easy, but it’s healthy. And, by releasing those mini-anchors to the past, I’m allowing myself to move forward with less holding me back.
As you may have noticed, I’ve been on a coloring book binge, this past year.
Christmas is no exception. So far, I’ve created two Christmas coloring books. They’re filled with ornaments you can color, cut out, embellish, and display. Each is designed to hang on your tree, your Christmas wreath, or as part of a holiday mobile or something.
(Of course, if you celebrate holidays other than Christmas, these ornaments still work. The designs are entirely abstract.)
These Christmas coloring books start taking my coloring-ish books in a slightly new direction. I’m including more craftsy ideas in them.
These books include four pages of how-to ideas to do more with the ornaments… like fasten them to paper garlands. Or scan them, print them on fabric, and make quilted ornaments with them. (Or even use them as centerpieces for each square in a quilt.)
A preview of 2017…? Maybe.
For 2017, I’m starting to focus on different, creative projects. Things that take me back to my artsy-craftsy roots.
See… a few decades ago (it sounds SO weird to say that), I used to create monthly, full-page crafts pages for Lady’s Circle magazine. Each of my pages would include a simple pattern for a creative project. And then… I’d go wild with lots of ideas to use that pattern in a variety of ways.
It all started when I created a simple teddy bear design, and turned him into a “no-sew” crafts project. It involved natural herbs that repelled moths, and teddy would become an ornament-sachet to hang in your closet.
He was a huge success. Lady’s Circle readers responded with enthusiasm.
And… I kept creating designs (and myriad ideas for using them), month after month, until the magazine changed editorial direction, a couple of years later.
I loved creating those projects, and I think I want to get back to that for 2017. I’m still thinking about it.
In fact, I’m re-reading Amanda Palmer’s book, “The Art of Asking,” and Cory Doctorow’s book “Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free,” to reconsider my business models.
My hippie impulses are kicking in again, hard. And, I’m looking at ways to make lots more treats available, free… while still being able to earn a living.
So, my websites may start looking very different in 2017.
Meanwhile, back at ye olde Christmas drawing board…
I’m working on these Christmas ornament coloring books. The first two are in Amazon right now. (At least one more may follow, in the next week or so.)
Each book includes:
Over 180 unique, round ornaments in different sizes and styles. (I haven’t counted, but I know the number is over 180, and I’m pretty sure it’s over 200.)
All designs are printed on one side of the page. So, there’s no bleed-through of ink… unless you’re using really juicy markers, I suppose.
Every ornament is designed to color, cut out, and hang on your Christmas tree or wreath. (Or tape to your window. Or iron onto a tee shirt with the appropriate — or inappropriate — holiday greeting. Go ahead. Have fun with this.)
Also: Four pages of decorating and crafts ideas, to get the most from these ornaments. (That’s what I referred to, earlier in this article. It’s a “sneak preview” of what I’m considering for 2017.)
Bonus: Two Christmas wreaths to color and decorate. Cut ’em out. Tape them to your dorm or apartment door. Or to your cubicle. Instant Christmas spirit!
Plus: Additional pages of Christmas ornament coloring pages. Most started as experiments, as I designed my holiday books. (Some worked out better than others, but I figured all of them were good enough to share, anyway.)
And sample pages from a few of my other coloring books.
Both books are suited to family activities. I tested them with children as young as three years old, and with adults. Everyone enjoyed them.
So, you can color your ornaments now, and display them at your home or office.
OR, you can plan this as a family activity, during holiday get-togethers. (They’re also ideal for classrooms and Scout meetings, “girls’ night out” activities, etc.)
So far, Volumes 1 & 2
The coloring designs in Volume 1 (black background cover) are more ornate and detailed, but still in my usual “hippie style.” If you liked 1960s art by Peter Max, and the designs in the Beatles’ film, “Yellow Submarine,” this is the book you’ll want.
(Not sure? See the freebie sampler page, linked below.)
And, remember: My coloring books are priced super-low, and each books’ copyrights include my formal okay to copy for personal use. So, go ahead and share these ornament pages with your students. Or your friends.
As artists, bloggers, authors, publishers, and generally creative people, we often turn to stock images — at sites like Shutterstock, DepositPhotos.com, FreeImages.com, MorgueFile.com (not what it sounds like), and a bazillion others — for art, photos, and inspiration.
But, do you know what’s okay to use in your artwork…? And what’s legal to use in artwork you sell…?
I’ve talked about copyright in the past. I’ve also debunked the “three stroke rule.” Those are old articles, but most of the information still applies. (Remember: I’ve been online, talking about art, for 20 years now. Really.)
Now, a friend has created a great article and infographic on the topic of stock images and how/when to use them: