Remember the days when everyone gathered around the table for a board game or a jigsaw puzzle during the holidays? Well, I have a fun cooperative alternative to offer for this season: hosting a coloring party. This is a wonderful, low-stress way of gathering with friends or family for some shared creative expression.
As the author/illustrator of 5 coloring books and the Magical Garden coloring calendar, I have hosted a number of these events in my community and beyond: in libraries, bookstores, brew pubs, and in-home gatherings. I am here to tell you that everyone comes away from this experience with a sense of joyful accomplishment and the gift of connecting with one another through this shared creative experience.
If you’re looking for a way to unplug, connect with multiple generations, and share creatively with any number of folks, you will find this event to be a door to community building and to stimulating positive family interactions.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED TO HOST A COLORING GROUP EVENT
You will want to supply individual books for everyone in the group. You can pick up good-quality coloring books for around $10 to $15. You might want to focus your books on a theme for the gathering. My books focus on the spiritual seeker genre. But there are so many options to choose from: fantasy, fairies, botanical, mandalas, humor, or even religious-themed titles such as Hebrew Illuminations or Celtic Art. It’s also a nice takeaway for guests, as the joy can be sustained through home practice as well.
If supplying books isn’t in the budget, you can find low-cost or free downloadable coloring pages online. Remember, you will still want to purchase a package of high-end, heavyweight paper on which to print your pages. I recommend Classic Crest, 80 lb. text, acid-free, from Neenah Paper, as well as a good inkjet printer.
There are so many types of pencils available it may be hard to choose in the beginning. I recommend a medium-quality oil-based pencil; my personal favorite is offered through Dick Blick Art Materials, their store-brand pencils. These are made in a 200-year-old factory in the Czech Republic – they know how to make a good pencil. As an alternative, Prismacolor, Marco, and Faber Castell are also good brands. They offer both wax- and oil-based pencils.
I generally like to offer a set of 24 for every 2 people. If you’re hosting a gathering for 6 or more, you might consider investing in a larger set of 72 or 96. This will offer more variety of colors for the colorists.
Again, like pencils, there are a number of options. The most important question to consider is: Is it a water-based or alcohol-based marker? The water-based ones will not bleed through the pages as strongly. I prefer Tombow markers, but they are not inexpensive. I’ve also gone to a discount store and picked up inexpensive alternatives. I do like a brush tip when available.
I like using a handheld sharpener – Prismacolor offers a good one – to gently keep a sharp point on your delicate pencils. It’s recommended that you hold the pencil in your nondominant hand and rotate the sharpener around the pencil, as the tips can break easily with too much stress.
Many larger cases of pencils come with a non-pigment blending tool, which can be very useful to soften the color transitions. I also recommend watching some YouTube videos on colored pencil blending techniques if you’re interested in further exploration. I love the Vaseline technique. 🙂
Extra blank sheets
I always supply everyone with a half sheet of printer paper for testing their colors on. That way they don’t mark up their page with tester marks. Alternatively, when working in a book with a particular paper stock, you might prefer to use an end page or copyright page to try out your pencils and write the name of the color next to it for future reference. The paper texture and color will affect how the pigment appears from book to book.
One more thing…
The only remaining ingredients are refreshments (I prefer wine and chocolate). Then you will be ready to spread some colorful joy this season, or any time of year.
Look for my coloring cards coming soon from Amber Lotus Publishing.
Join my Sacred Coloring group on Facebook for fun exchanges and to share your colored pages from my Sacred Coloring Books for the Soul series.
Lydia Hess creates graphic montage images combining her colorful mono-prints, pen and ink scratchboard carvings, and antique engravings. She enjoys working on many different aspects of the creative process, including art directing, picture editing, designing, and illustrating. She currently does all of the above at Amber Lotus Publishing and loves the diversity and the opportunity to collaborate with other artists and image makers. Hess has recently completed five coloring books with HarperElixir, an imprint of Harper Collins publishing. For more information, please visit her website. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Photo by Robbie McClaran.
Free Sample Pages from Amber Lotus Publishing
Click image to download a PDF to print at home.