Studio Saturdays: Coloring for Mixed-Media Artists

Coloring books for adults are a phenomenon with no end in sight—and they’re perfect for mixed-media artists. Think of coloring book pages as jumping off points for exploring art techniques. I love finding coloring book artwork I connect with and using it as a basis for drawing, watercolor, collage, acrylics, and more.

This page from Coloring Book Sketchbook magazine was embellished with watercolor pencils, markers, glitter pens, stencils, and paper scraps, and I added my own drawings and doodles. It’s one of my favorite art journal pages. Coloring books allow you to play with color, shading, and patterning, and make the pages as simple or as complex as you want.

Before and after coloring book pages
The before and after pages.

I chose this page by Cathy Taylor because I love the artwork, the nature scene, and I knew the white space would give me room to play. That’s the nice thing about today’s coloring books—you can color inside the lines and get tons of creative satisfaction from that, but you don’t have to stop there.

Quick tip: Coloring Book Sketchbook magazine has perforated pages that tear out easily, allowing you to work on individual pages.

I started by coloring the leaves with Derwent Inktense pencils, which are water-soluble. I scribbled a few shades of green into the leaves, left some white space, and colored in yellow at the tips. With a damp detail brush I swept the color from the base to the tips of the leaves, creating a nice gradation.

Colored pencils
The leaves were colored with Derwent Inktense pencils.

I thought the scene needed a few colorful flowers, so I drew them in and colored them with pencil as well.

Coloring book drawing
I drew in some flowers and colored them as well.

To add collage to the butterfly I traced the wings onto a piece of scrap paper, cut out the shapes, and used them as templates to cut shapes from book pages. After gluing the shapes to the page with glue stick I added doodles with a Sakura Pigma Micron pen and colored in the rest of the butterfly with markers and pencils.

Coloring book tracing
I traced the wing shapes onto copy paper.
Coloring book collage
The templates were traced onto book pages.

Quick tip: Most coloring book pages will take wet media, such as markers and watercolor and acrylic paint. Just don’t oversaturate the paper.

After gluing the page into my art journal, scraps of decorative and text paper were auditioned around two sides and then glued down.

Coloring book collage
Paper scraps were auditioned for a border.

To create some cohesion on the page I stenciled an abstract dot pattern over everything, using a cosmetic sponge and green and pink stamping ink.

Coloring book stenciling
Stenciling over the design added cohesion.

I love to give pages depth with shading, and a Stabilo-All pencil is perfect for that. I created a border with the pencil and also used it to shade the wings and the collaged papers. For final touches I added dots with a uni-ball Signo white gel pen and highlighted the leaves and flowers with Zig Wink of Stella glitter markers. I’m not a big glitter girl, but those pens are addictive, and I love the hint of shine they give.

Coloring book glitter pens
Love me some glitter pens.

Comparing the unfinished to the finished page, I think you’ll agree that this is anything but cookie-cutter coloring.

Coloring Book Sketchbook magazine
The original coloring book page.
Mixed media coloring book page
The finished page!

Add coloring books to your art arsenal today—we have tons of resources to help you dive in!

Coloring Book Sketchbook The Coloring Book of Tangle Patterns
Creative Girl Workshop
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Zen Doodle Unleashed: Love to Color Value Pack Artist’s Sketchbook
Zen Doodle Coloring Book
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Find more mixed-media resources at the
Cloth Paper Scissors Shop!

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