When did we decide to stop coloring? Is there a specific age when we say to ourselves, “no, I am done doodling in my notebook” or turn to Instagram instead of opening a coloring book to past time? Am I the only one who sneaks the crayons and joins in on the kids' placemat at the restaurant? If they aren't going to finish coloring in Old McDonald, I sure will! The idea behind it was simple, it was a way for parents to make us sit still, occupy ourselves and let them have a "moment"!
The tools we use and the intentions that drive us, change as we grow. The concept for me is still the same, if I am going to decide to color or doodle, I have chosen to sit still, occupy my mind and have a little me time.
Instead of waxed crayons, we are focused on our favorite, "can't function at work today without it" pen and that "almost too cute to write on" notepad. Content and how it is visually displayed becomes essential. Does it make us laugh, was it “punny”? Can I post it on Instagram? We start to appreciate things and products that bring you to a state of "happy." In the words of Netflix's Marie Kando, “Does it bring you joy?” Ok, then you can buy that pen.
I mean it's no joke. One of my first memories of school was my teacher applauding me for coloring between the lines. Something is satisfying, at least to me, about the thrill of not going over the edge of the line. I am sure that it could also be described as OCD. I mean is there anything worse than a marker that runs out of ink halfway through whatever you are working on? Maybe it is the artist in me, but the perfect tool for the job makes a difference. Finding what works for you, takes a lot of trial and error. The only way you know what you like is to try.
So, why am I writing this? This is not me trying to sell you something, though if you do feel inspired to, then I guess I have done a good job convincing you! My focus? Our new coloring-friendly line OMY. My tools? The pens and marker staples found in the shop. Think Gelly Roll Pens, Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Big Brush Pens, Tombow Dual Brush-Pens, Copic Makers, Micron Pens, and the trusted Sharpie marker. Is it obvious that we like pens? We are creating a real test before you buy experience, which you can now do in the store. (insert mic-drop here)
My canvas? OMY! Pronounced (OH-ME) or how I like to emphasize "OH-ME GOODNESS THIS STUFF IS SO COOL" (Dad joke) is a new line we are carrying at MUSEjar. Made and designed in France. Think a black and white coloring page, but so much more than that. They are giant posters, travel games, wall art, and even fanny packs! It is graphic, stimulates the imagination, they are themed (Street Art + the USA) and fresh, maybe even a little funny too. Suggested ages? "3-99." Good one guys! Joking aside, OMY does an excellent job illustrating life, creating engaging content and bridging the gap between a product strictly marketed toward a child or adult audience. The pages can be colored alone, or with a friend. They are big, so the help is welcome!
I used the Street Art Giant XXL Poster. I under-estimated the giant XXL part. I unrolled it and quickly realized they were not kidding. In length, it is 6ft! Initial thought, this is really cool! If I were to buy this and bring it home, I would use it as an art piece on a wall. I might not even color it in. I am really drawn to clean, black and white imagery. The illustrations are crisp, the fonts are bold, and the sayings are relevant. The weight of the paper is thin, think really fancy presentation paper with a slight gloss to the surface. It is going to hold up to your water and ink based mediums. If I am rating 1-10 based on first impressions alone, I will give it a 9. Hot out the gate.
When it comes to pens and markers, there is one for every day of the year and maybe more. I am just brushing the surface with a few options. As I mentioned before, finding what works best for you is a personal thing. Regardless of my opinion, what you like is most important! I tried out six different pens on the OMY Poster. What I took away? Not all pens are created equally but are designed for a purpose.
Gelly Roll Pens
This pen could not be named more perfect. The ink honestly "rolls" across the paper. It is a love child between a ballpoint pen and liquid ink. You can achieve even coverage, and the ink dries opaque (fancy art word for non-transparent). It does take a minute to dry, so if you drag your hand on your paper you might smudge! The ink did not bleed and is WATERPROOF! Just in case coloring makes you cry. I use these pens for my own artwork, and it is excellent for writing on multiple surfaces beyond paper! They come in various colors, you dream it we can order it!
Here is a quick tip: To achieve uniform coverage of a space when you are coloring, do not run your pen up and down. This creates individual small marks. Instead, make a continuous tight swirl with the pen, this circle motion pushes the ink back on to itself and reduces the white of the paper showing through.
Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Big Brush Markers
When it comes to markers, the tip determines what you can achieve. Big Brush Pens have a nib tip, similar to the shape of a round paintbrush. You can create both broad, full strokes and narrow details with the same point. They are filled with India Ink, which is very blendable when you are working with it and dries permanent. With every stroke, the color was bold, non-transparent and ideal for covering a large surface area. It did not bleed through and worked on a lighter weight paper. These brushes come in various tip sizes and are great for coloring and lettering! Two thumbs up!
Tombow Dual Brush-Pens
I would like to have a moment of silence for this brush-pen. This double-headed coloring magic utensil combines a brush tip and fine tip in one package! The ink is water-based, odorless (we will save our marker sniffing for the sharpie review) and they can blend on top each other to create NEW COLORS! I had an "Oh yeah" moment when I was using this pen. It was smooth, and I think it had the best coverage out of the pens I tried.
Hot Tip: When using a brush tip pen long strokes will cover more surface area than short strokes. Line up your brush marks on the edge of the last and continue in one direction. You can create a lot of texture and direction with smaller, broken strokes!
As much as I respect this marker, I would not use it on this paper and for this project. Number one, they are alcohol based markers. They are meant for specific marker papers and will absorb. If you are using them on the wrong surface, you are going to waste a lot of ink and money. Love them, but not for this!
It is a Micron Pen world, and I am just living in it. You name it, a micron pen is a right guy for the job. In the world of coloring, these fine-point pens are better suited for details and embellishments. Outside of that, they are great for graphics and work. They give you smooth, skip-free writing without fading and bleeding. Add waterproof and archival to the list, and you have a well-rounded writing machine.
Old Faithful. The most relatable of markers. Comfortable and permanent. How many times did you use the Sharpie on something you weren't supposed too? Like a wall, or someone elses skin in college? When it comes to coloring, using a sharpie can be a little overpowering. It is alcohol based, does lend itself to bleeding (so depending on your paper will feather on the edges and will show through the page) and has a distinct smell. I did enjoy using it on the OMY paper because the outlines are already black. It filled in spaces and helped keep the theme black and white which is A-OK with me!
So where do you go from here? How do I use these illustrative coloring pages in my everyday life? Host a dinner party and use them as a table cloth! Put some markers down on the table and encourage the group to color in around their space and get the conversation going! If you manage to make all the food to your mouth, you can display it. Maybe it would make for funky wallpaper in a room? Imagine telling the kids they are allowed to color on the walls! Or finally, use it to challenge yourself to stop and put pen to paper daily, think a 30-day challenge but with color!
Regardless of the tools you use, you are never too old or too cool to color. OMY makes it fun and approachable, and the right pen can make it very satisfying!
By Laura Cott