My Kind of Art Therapy

After any unpleasant dealings with insurance, I like to distract myself with a little art therapy. Lest I dwell too long on the bad stuff I can’t control. Yesterday, that meant breaking out a coloring book full of swear words my brother gave me and a couple of new sets of dual-tipped markers.

The smaller set of 12 Prismacolors were a gift from my parents this Christmas. I had seen YouTubers working with alcohol-based markers in their videos and was absolutely stunned by their results. But I was hesitant to ask for a big set for myself, because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to wield them so deftly and they’re kind of expensive.

Well, I started swatching them in a new notebook the night I opened them and immediately fell in love. The problem was, I only had 12 colors to work with. So, armed with an Amazon gift card, I went looking to expand my set. Long story short, I settled on a set of 72 Bianyo markers. They were only about $40, much less than comparable Prismacolor sets and the much-coveted professional Copic marker sets. Reviewers had said good things about the bargain markers, so I bought them. I’m so glad I took the chance on them. Because I love them too.

I’m still learning how the markers behave, so not wanting to ruin a page from my favorite coloring books, I made a copy with my handy HP and colored a plain old piece of printer paper. (The image of the two birds holding the banner that you see at the top of the page.) Working with them was fantastic. I mean, Crayolas are cool and all—until you try these.

I blame an unimaginative art teacher and a tough academic schedule in high school for my not having taken an art class after 8th grade. And, consequently, never learning that these kinds of markers even existed until I was nearly 40. You see, when my guidance counselor put me in 3D art because the pre-requisite 2D art didn’t fit in my schedule, the art teacher wouldn’t budge and said “No art for you” instead of “Let’s see if we can work something out.” She pointed me to the door, and I spent second period that year napping in study hall instead of creating art.

After that? Well, I didn’t want to learn art from her anyway. But I digress.

Back to the markers. You can shade the same color by laying down ink without the paper-chewing effects you get trying the same thing with water-based markers. You can also blend different colors together. (You can see this in action in the birds in the above coloring book page, where I layered a pink marker over an orange one in their bellies and blended different shades of brown for the rest of their feathers.)

There’s some bleeding of color that you have to learn to work with in all markers. So I experimented with some random colorings too. I showed Dan this teardrop doodle and his response was simply, “Wow.” As much as I’d like to take credit for the coolness, it’s all about the markers.

No matter what color I choose, subtle and muted or bold and bright, watching the pigments soak into the paper ticks neurons in my brain and makes me happy. And that makes me want to tell everybody about them. Kind of the same way I wanted everyone in the world to have access to pot the first time my medical marijuana made me high. Ha!

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