Two Christmas Coloring Books and a Free Download

As you may have noticed, I’ve been on a coloring book binge, this past year.

Christmas coloring book - vol 2
Click here to order this book at Amazon.

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

Christmas coloring book ornaments - vol 1The 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.)

Volume 2 (white background cover) is more relaxed, and all the ornaments feature loops, swirls, and circle artwork. They’re probably faster to color.

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.

Links to buy at Amazon:

Here’s a sampler of the ornaments in Volume 1: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8noedrX-LRwNGNBTm5FaVpscEk/view (That’s a free download you can print.)

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Free Coloring Page – Garden-style

garden-y coloring page -- free downloadYes, this seems like a good day for a free coloring page.

I’m working on a couple of new coloring book series. So, I’m happy to share one of the pages.

I draw these by hand, and then clean up the lines (just a little) in Photoshop.

So, they’re kind of irregular. They’re kind of organic. And, yes, they’re a style I’ve been drawing in, since my early teens.

(As a teen, at the local public library, I created each summer’s reading program artwork for the Children’s Reading Room. It was almost always in this style… wavy, wobbly, and fantastical.)

Here’s the link to the free coloring page: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B8noedrX-LRwWW1VMnlWU0lIeE0

If you’d like to share the link with a shorter URL, this works, too: http://tinyurl.com/zwyp7rd

It’s a hand-drawn coloring page — 8.5″ x 11″ — that you can download and print as a PDF.

I’m preparing a new coloring book series in this style. It should be available in early 2017.

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More Copyright -> A Brilliant Resource

question markAs 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.

We also use things like the Creative Commons search engine, to find hidden gems for our work.

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:

Stock Images [Cheat Sheet]

Go see it. It’s very cool!

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Fore-Edge Book Art – Historical Examples

When I first saw this concept in the movie, Crimson Peak, I didn’t think fore-edge book art was anything mainstream… ever.

Now, I’ve learned that it’s a legitimate book art. (How did I never hear of this, before?)

It’s something I’m considering including in my altered books art, and perhaps other projects.

Another example, from 1801:

Here’s a 1947 video showing one way fore-edge art was added to books:

And here’s a modern artist working with this concept:

For more historical insights, this 28-minute discussion explains the fore-edge tradition and practice in more detail:

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Free Coloring Pages from ‘Bold and Easy 4’

Bold and Easy Coloring Pages 4 - coverOkay, I’m enthusiastic about coloring books. And, I’ll admit I’ve been carried away by the success of my “Bold and Easy Coloring Pages” series.

This series has wider lines that are easier to see if someone has a vision challenge. And, in most cases, the coloring areas are larger. That makes them easier to color by anyone with dexterity issues like arthritis or difficulty holding a coloring pencil, marker, or crazy.

(The cover at right shows the most complex coloring design in this book.)

They’re ideal for special education teachers, seniors with some disabilities, and anyone who wants a book that’s easier to see and has bigger areas to color.

But… last week, in my enthusiasm, I accidentally uploaded the wrong interior for “Bold and Easy Coloring Pages 4.” And, besides having designs I hadn’t planned to include in the final edition, one page actually had an error on it.

The word “embarrassed” doesn’t begin to describe how I felt when I made the discovery.

Fortunately, I found it so quickly, only one person had bought the book. (The book now selling at Amazon is the correct one.)

If you’re that one person who bought it, please contact me and tell me:  What country you purchased it in, when you bought it, and how much you paid.

In return, I’ll send you an Amazon gift certificate so you can replace that book, and buy another one of my coloring books (or anything else you’d like to use the certificate for).

Meanwhile, here are two free pages from the corrected edition of Bold and Easy Coloring Pages 4. Download, color, and share them!

Free sample 1Free sample 2

Here’s what they look like:

Sample 1Sample 2You can find more free downloads — including others from my “Bold and Easy” series at the Coloring Group website.

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New Coloring Book, and New Free Coloring Book Pages

Okay, I’m so hooked on coloring books, I may need a support group soon. (I am kidding. I can’t imagine wanting to be pried away from my art… ever!)

Lovely Designs 1, by Aisling D'ArtMy latest is Lovely Designs 1 (now out of print), and it’s a little different from my previous books. In addition to the 26 coloring pages (printed on one side of each page), I’ve included six “DIY” (do it yourself) pages.

When I draw my coloring pages, I don’t sketch anything ahead of time. Instead, I go right to work with a large pen or brush-style marker. I make broad, sweeping strokes to indicate the main areas of the design.

Next, I scan those drawings, so I can clean them up a little in Photoshop. That’s partly to erase any truly impossible lines I’d included. However, it’s even more useful to get a fresh look at the art… in a different scale (small), and in a different context (on my monitor).

LovelyDesigns1-Sample2It’s similar to how I used to explain my online diary, back when people thought that was weird. (Long before “blogging” became a trend.)

I used to explain how much easier it was to see what I was doing well — and not-so-well — in my life. On the computer monitor, it was like reading someone else’s story, not my own. (That may not be easy to understand, but — in those days — people weren’t so deeply enmeshed in social media and in each other’s lives. So, to read a “story” online was like reading a news story or diary by someone else altogether.)

Anyway, after I tweak my initial drawing, I print it so I can add embellishments and details, by hand.

Six of those un-embellished scans became part of Lovely Designs 1, along with three illustrated pages explaining how I embellish them… in case anyone else wants to try their hand at this kind of art, but needs a “head start” to gain more confidence.

Lovely Designs 1 - Left-hand editionAlso, Lovely Designs 1 contains two mandalas and two repeating patterns based on the same drawings.

For my left-handed friends, I’ve also created a left-hand edition of Lovely Designs 1. (I’m trying to do this with most of my coloring books. In my opinion, nothing about art should be inconvenient, ever. That includes having to reach across a coloring book, just to color the picture.) That’s its cover, on the right. (See the double-L logo at the lower right side of the cover, indicating a left-hand edition.)

So, anyway… the freebies have arrived. I’ve added them to the ColoringGroup.com list of free coloring book pages.

 

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What’s on Your Desk?

Aisling's computer desk - 20150901Following the lead by K. M. Weiland (http://www.kmweiland.com/all-the-super-important-stuff-on-this-writers-desk/) and encouraged by my friend Nanette Day  –  I’m sharing a completely un-staged photo of what’s on my computer desk this morning.

(My current “art desk” is my bed. I have stacks of paper for drawing, plus a silverware drawer insert – $2 from IKEA, but you can find similar ones at Target, Walmart, etc. – filled with pens, pencils, paintbrushes, etc.)

Anyway, here’s what’s on my writing/computer desk and (at least partially) shown in the photo:

1. Computer (bearing a Honeydukes sticker from the Harry Potter shop at Universal Studios theme park), printer/scanner, and monitor.
2. One mic, plus one headset with its own mic.
3. Two pens, four thumb drives, a calculator, a portable hard drive, and a spare USB hub.
4. Two bottles of vits and a glass of water.
5. Lots of papers: My daily to-do notebook, and yellow, lined pad for notes. Notes from said yellow pad.
6. A printed page from my upcoming coloring book, still in progress.
7. Last but not least: A white mouse from IKEA.

(If you’re just desperate to see everything in detail, click on the photo for the 800 x 600 pixels version.)

Since I’m incredibly busy right now, it’s a minor miracle that my desk is this tidy.

I decided to post this since it’s kind of in line with “Real Professional Qualities,” my somewhat sarcastic article from Professional Quilter magazine, March 1986 issue.

 

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My First Coloring Books

If you know me in real life – and possibly even if you don’t – you probably know that I draw. And draw. And draw.

It’s something I’ve done all my life. I draw on shopping lists. I draw on church bulletins. I even draw in the margins of my Sudoku pages as I complete each puzzle.

So, when I saw an opportunity to share my drawings with others, I jumped on it.

I’m talking about coloring books.

This is kind of “how I spent my summer vacation.” Since somewhere around the middle of July, I’ve been assembling my latest drawings and creating new ones for coloring books.

When I started out, I thought, “Sure, this looks easy.”

* headdesk *

Boy oh boy, was I wrong. Coloring books…? Not so easy, after all. Not if you’re a perfectionist like me.

  • I want every drawing to look “just so.”
  • I want every book to be available in right-handed and left-handed versions.
  • I want each book to be the perfect size for the illustrations. And so on.

I put together five coloring books (under another name, so not to embarrass my family) before I felt like I was finally getting the hang of this. (They weren’t awful books, but they weren’t up to my usual standards, either.)

Things I learned:

  • If my one-year-old granddaughter likes a design well enough to grab a crayon and start coloring it… it’s a good design.
  • Testing some of my designs with adults: some people like big lines. Others like fine lines. Some like big coloring areas. Some like super-intricate designs. And so on. It’s best to focus on books that will make many people happy, but expect criticism.
  • I’m far more finicky about how my books look than the pre-press guy assembling them for publication. Sometimes, my requests drive him crazy. (In this case, that “pre-press guy” is my husband. He does this kind of work for a living.)
  • And… when I use software to create mandalas, the results aren’t always what I expected. (More on that, in a minute.)

But finally (cue the drumroll), I have three books to talk about. Each is for a different kind of coloring enthusiast.

My current favorite is a coloring book that fits in my purse. At 5 1/4″ x 8″, it’s just a little larger than a standard paperback book.

A Small Coloring Book - Coloring Hippie StyleIt became A Small Coloring Book: Coloring Hippie-Style, and it contains 50 kinda-sorta hippie coloring pages.

I had a lot of fun with this book, because I’ve been drawing these kinds of pictures since my early teens. They make me happy, and I’ve always liked coloring them myself. I hope you’ll feel the same way.

This coloring book offers a lot of variety… simple drawings (like on the cover), mandalas, and repeating patterns.

Some can be colored quickly. Others might take a few hours (depending on how many colors and how much detail you like).

Each design is printed on just one side of the page. (I still recommend putting a sheet of paper underneath the page you’re coloring, just in case the ink seeps through.)

Buy it here: A Small Coloring Book – Coloring, Hippie-Style

Bold and Easy Coloring Pages 1 My next coloring book was Bold and Easy Coloring Pages. It’s a collection of coloring designs with bigger-than-average coloring spaces and bolder-than-usual lines.

I created it when my daughter & I realized my granddaughter really liked easy-to-color pages.  Then, as we talked about it, we thought of other situations where bold, easy coloring pages might be really helpful.

Like when you really want to color in the middle of the night, but don’t want to turn on a bright light.

Or for people who don’t like to wear their reading glasses while they color.

And for use in therapy settings.

So, it became a book.

And that’s what I’ve been working on this summer.

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Early Selfies 1839 – 1913

selfie-1913The search for the earliest “selfie” (self-portrait, as a photograph) seems to be at full tilt.

One of my favorites is (supposedly) dated around 1900.  It’s shown at the right.  The largest version I can find, online was posted by Sabine Niedola.  (The largest, clear image is usually the first – or one of the first – posted online, and I like to give credit to the person who first found it.)

Frankly, the subject’s features look a lot like my own portraits from the 1980s. I’m also pleased to see her hairstyle. I’ve tried that kind of style – even with ultra-thick hair – and it turned out the same as hers.

So, I wasn’t alone with the “pouf” issue. (I know about “rats” – long, sausage-shaped supports hidden under the hair – for better-looking versions of this style. I just wasn’t that committed to the style.)

Note: Since I posted this, my friend David Locicero pointed out authenticity issues. This may be a hoax or a cosplay photo.

Something looks a little like an outlet, on the lower right side of the photo.  I’m not certain it’s an outlet, but it might be.  I don’t know enough about household hardware from the early 20th century, to be sure.

My bigger question is about the matted photos on the shelves. The double-matted pictures are more consistent with modern-day presentations. In the past, someone who could afford that kind of matting would have framed the photos under glass.

There’s also the question of the light fixture (if that’s what it is) on the ceiling in the reflection.  And, the high quality of the mirror reflection.

But, whether it’s an authentic photo or not, it’s not the earliest “selfie.”

The Earliest Selfie?

Robert Cornelius, self portrait, ca. 1839. Courtesy Library of Congress.
Robert Cornelius, self portrait, ca. 1839. Courtesy Library of Congress.

One in the running is a self-portrait by photographer Robert Cornelius.  He’s the dashing young man in the photo on the left.

The fashions are, of course, post-Regency, but I still see a little Colin Firth / Pride and Prejudice in that photo.

Ah, if time travel were possible…! (If he came through a time portal, like in Kate and Leopold, I’m sure many women would swoon.)

For good reason, he’s been featured as Victorian Hottie of the Week.

According to some, that’s his own photo from around 1839. Others simply say it’s the first actual portrait photo… taken by an unknown photographer.

It’s difficult to tell.  Many websites give a nod to the Top 25 Most Ancient Historical Photographs as the source of Mr. Cornelius’ picture, and that site says it’s a self-portrait.

You can learn more about him at this FindMyPast.com.au article, Historical ‘selfies’: in search of the world’s first self-portrait photograph.

selfie-1914-Anastasia
Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia

Then there’s the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia’s self-portrait, on the right, dating to 1913 or 1914.

The Daily Mail featured the picture in a really nice article.

I’d always hoped Anastasia had survived the attack on her family. Alas, DNA evidence suggests otherwise.

Nevertheless, I’m intrigued by the white blurry image in back of her.  Online, that’s sparked some discussion with no firm conclusions.  Very cool.

If you enjoy old self-portraits like these, visit Google or any search engine and look for “oldest selfies” and “earliest selfies.”  You’ll find plenty, right now.  (I’m not thrilled with the term “selfie,” or that it’s the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year for 2013, but if you’re looking for early self-portraits, the term makes online searching much easier.)

Just watch out for faux historical selfies, created with the aid of Photoshop.

 

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