Alright, I’m having a bit of a day. I’m in a ton of pain (massive flare from an old spine injury) and I just can’t focus on work so I figured I’d sit today out and instead work on my monster adult coloring post, which is something I’ve been meaning to do for a while now.
First, let me give you a bit of history regarding me and adult coloring.
I really didn’t start doing this hobby until 2020. Before then, my hobby was reading. But in 2020, due to the pandemic (I’m extremely high risk due to a ten year cancer battle. My immune system is basically just a vague idea at this point.) I had to quit my day job. Luckily for me, my day job was extremely part-time and I was already mostly full-time with editing. It was really easy for me to just quit and slide right into my editing, full-time.
But editing for 8 hours a day, minimum (I’ve pulled 16 hour days. I’m not proud of that. I do it far too often.) really changes my relationship with reading. By the end of my workday, I’m “worded” out and I’ve never been a big TV watcher. Everyone needs something to help them decompress after a long day.
I can’t really remember what brought adult coloring to my mind as something I wanted to try after a day of editing, but something did. I bought my first two books, tried them out, realized I was terrible at it but I actually really enjoyed the process of coloring. It was exactly what I needed after long workday.
However, I have zero training. I have never taken an art class in my life. I saw all these coloring pages people did that looked amazing but I had no idea how they were doing it. I ended up watching a lot of Youtube videos and just trying, trying, trying. I try to push myself in different ways with each piece, explore what I’m really capable of, test my limits and then figure out how to push them even further.
So, in this post I’ll show you some of my favorite artists. If people care enough, I’ll make another post later about things like the pencils, sharpeners, YouTubers I follow, Instagram accounts that are good to keep track of, as well as some artists I haven’t tried yet but I’m eyeballing with interest. Maybe I’ll make this a series.
For today, though, I’ll just show you my favorite artists. The ones I gravitate toward when I sit down to do the thing.
Please keep in mind, I’m not a classically trained artist. I’m an editor who needed to do this to unwind after a day of working. I generally have no idea what the hell I’m doing. Don’t judge me too harshly. That being said, I’ve been doing this just about daily (about 30 minutes, minimum, each day), and time and continued practice absolutely changes things. As an example:
Now, I’m just grabbing all these pictures I’m going to use from my instagram account, as screenshots. To be honest, I hurt and I’m feeling particularly lazy, so doing it this way is just easier right now. If you want to see the actual images without any of the “this is obviously a screenshot” markings, you can check out my Instagram account, where I post all this stuff along with WIPs and whatever other weird genre/readerly things I see fit. You can find my instagram here.
Two years of continual effort has, I think, made a difference in the quality of my art and I look forward to seeing what I can figure out in two more years. So even if you are starting out and get frustrated because things don’t end up the way you want them to, please know, it’s less about the finished product and more about what you feel as you get there. This is something where the value, at least to me, is how it helps me unwind, de-stress, and generally decompress after a hard day at work and far less emphasis is put on how it looks when the piece is done. As long as you sit down and feel that part of you sigh with relief when you do this, then who cares what it looks like? The moment your soul goes, “Yeah, okay, I did life and now I can relax” you know you’re doing it right, regardless of what it looks like.
So keep on keeping on.
Anyway, in no specific order, here are some of my favorite artists and books and whatever finished pictures I have to go with them.
If you click on the artist’s name, it’ll take you to Amazon where you can view their books.
Coloring Books & Artists
Johanna Basford is one of the most well-known coloring book artists. She’s got a certain whimsy and flare to her art that just works for me. I own most of her books, and I flip between them quite often. I really enjoy the amount of detail she generally has in her line art.
If you go to her website, you can sign up on her mailing list and she sends you a mini-book for free. You can take a look at those images, print them up, see if you like them. I absolutely adore her stuff.
Kerby Rosanes is one of my favorite artists. He’s also one of the most detailed. One of his double-spreads can take me… weeks. (I am also an extremely slow colorist and I spend a ton of time fiddling with details, so that’s my own fault.)
He is an auto-buy artist for me and I absolutely devour all his stuff. The themes tend to be mythological, or fantasy bent and yes, all the details. There’s an extremely vibrant Kerby Rosanes coloring community, especially on Instagram where you can see some absolutely mind-blowing art if you just search the titles of his books as a hashtag (#mythomorphia, for example, is one of the most active).
Absolutely recommend if you enjoy fantasy/scifi-themed coloring.
This is a fairly new-to-me artist. His books don’t print in the United States. In fact, he’s Croatian, and I believe the only place currently publishing his books is out of the Netherlands. They do cost more to get due to that, but he’s my favorite artist right now. I mean, hands down, no holds barred, zero things standing in the way of me saying that. His art just does it for me on every possible level.
Like Kerby Rosanes, his pages are extremely detailed and they always take me at least two times longer than I think they will, but they are so easy to get lost in. The subject matter is all fantasy, dragons, castles, knights on horses, magic, the whole thing. I have both Dromenvanger and Sprookjesbos and I will absolutely be ordering a second set of them probably sometime this year just to have on hand so I can do some of these images over again.
Millie Marotta is a prolific coloring book artist who I actually was introduced to years ago through a friend of mine who worked at the publisher who puts out her books. She sent me some in the mail, and honestly at the time they kind of stumped me. She uses a lot of lines, and almost no background, so the images act more like portraits of these animals. I don’t think I really had the skill/knowhow/understanding of what to do with them at the time.
As I’ve grown into this, her art has become more appealing. I still have to really be in the mood for her books (backgrounds challenge me and for some reason coloring eyes really freaks me out) but when I do sit down and really do her work I get absolutely lost in the images. I do typically need reference photos to work on hers, but I’m at the point now where I’m starting to look at her art and see a lot of possibilities in it that I didn’t before, and I love that. I also sometimes really enjoy taking a break from fantasy, and her realistic, natural world art is extremely captivating and easy to get lost in.
Even if I do think there’s a little learning curve involved in her work, it’s extremely worth it. She’s one of my favorite artists.
Ken Matsuda is a fine artist in Japan. I ran across his art online and was absolutely captivated by it, so on a complete lark I searched, “Ken Matsuda coloring book” and discovered he actually had one. Now, I had to send away to Japan to get it, but it’s an absolutely gorgeous book, with some caveats.
First, the line art can be really small and sometimes hard to kind of figure out what is what. Secondly, it’s expensive because it’s from Japan. I do have to be in a certain mood to want to do this kind of art, but it also stretches me creatively and I do really love it.
At the start of the book are each of the coloring pictures with finished examples of Ken Matsuda’s work on the same painting, and there are little QR codes which takes you to their counterpart on Instagram. This is a really, really cool features I wish more coloring books have, because it makes it so much easier to just find the image to use as inspiration.
I am really late hopping on this particular artist’s train. Eriy is a Japanese artist who creates her line art by dipping a pin in ink and then drawing that way. It’s really fascinating, and you can see the uniqueness in the lines. Some are thick and some are thin. It’s a really cool human touch I love.
What I love about Eriy, though, is the storybook feel to the art. Each book tells the story of a different area, so you get castles and witches cottages and people and bakeries and the whole thing. Eriy is one of those artists I pull out when I really, really need something that is just… comforting. The storybook quality to the art is a bonus.
This is another artist with an incredible community on Instagram, and so many colorists have found her and love her. I’ve learned a lot by following this artist’s hashtags over there. I have Romantic Country 1 & 2, and I think she’s releasing another book sometime this year and plan to scoop that up as well.
Kanoko Egusa is a coloring book artist who specializes in quaint, storybook-like animals and scenes. Her books are published in the US as well as abroad so, like Eriy’s books, they’ll be easier to find. Her art is so fun though, and always painfully cute.
I put off buying these books for a while because coloring fur is intimidating, but I also just love the images so much I decided I to take the plunge. I have both Rhapsody in the Forest and Minuet de Bonheur. I will say I like Minuet de Bonheur a lot more than Rhapsody on the Forest, but both books really are great, especially if you want to work on some art that involves cute animals with a storybook vibe.
Yes, the images are detailed, but again it’s really easy to forget that when I’m lost in a piece.
I don’t honestly do this artist’s books too terribly often and I’m not really sure why because I do love her art a lot. I kind of take issue with how thick the lines are sometimes, I think, but otherwise I love her themes. Circle of Life is a fantastic book with images that are nicely sized so they don’t take forever. There’s just enough detail and enough places you can go with each picture to keep it interesting.
She’s an artist who seems to theme her books around the natural world, the seasons, the rhythm of the planet, the beauty of nature. Working on her books always makes me want to garden.
Hanna Karlzon is an artist whose work I love but I’m always too chicken to finish any of them. I have no idea what intimidates me so much about her line art, but it’s something. I absolutely love it though. I have a few of her books, and they are all amazing. Really good stuff if you like coloring people, or quaint fantasy scenes. She also has quite a storybook feel to her line art. Each book is so well done.
Last year I bought a few of her books because she’s been fighting cancer and you know, solidarity and all that. She’s an absolutely amazing artist, though, with a vibrant following. Some truly stunning colorists have worked on her books and post their work on Instagram. It’s well worth doing a search for her over there to see some of the possibilities with her art.
Another new-to-me artist. Rita Berman is from Germany. Her books are smaller than the usual coloring book size. I thought that would put me off at first but now it’s one of the things that draws me to her. Her art reminds me a bit of Johanna Basford, maybe with a bit more whimsy. She has a ton out and seems to always have more in the works. I’d say her online community of followers and fans rivals that of Johanna Basford, easily. I own two of her books now, and I love both of them and am looking forward to buying more.
She does a lot of nature, cityscapes, flowers, plants and the like. Smaller books are easier to get through, and sometimes you just need something to work on that won’t be as big an investment as something like a Kerby Rosanes piece would require. I find it’s kind of fun to switch gears and work on her books. They allow me to really focus on things that sometimes I get too tired to focus too much on with the larger pieces I do. Plus, the whimsy to her art keeps it fun.
I absolutely love this guy’s art, which is weird because it’s mostly cat-focused and I’m not a cat person. I just have so freaking much fun with each of his pieces. They are so whimsical and just an absolute delight to work on.
I’ve done two or three pieces from him. I own Whimsical Cats, which you can buy as PDFs to print up from his Etsy store. He always churns out new art, and I always look for his new pieces because they are just that much fun. So, cat person or not, his art is a different take on portraits.
This is my newest discovery. I found Gnomes in the Neighborhood online and was absolutely enchanted by the art. Klette’s art hits that “fun/interesting” zone that Jeff Haynie’s art hits. I don’t have to think too hard when I color these pictures. They are all seriously fun. I mean, just fun and that makes the art just flow. There’s not a ton of detail but just enough, and it’s really hard to take yourself too seriously with a lot of this, so it kind of relieves some of the pressure I feel to improve on my skill. This is a book I can sit back and enjoy.
I have a feeling it’ll probably turn into one of my favorites, just because I feel so good when I work on it.
And that’s about all I’ve got for now. If you color, what are your favorite books? Who are your favorite artists? Leave a comment and let me know.