Monthly Archives: April 2023

Coloring with Pencils

During the pandemic closure I started posting coloring pages on my website. It was a way for me to give something to other people who were shut in, and it was a way to steady myself. I wrote about it here.

Three years later, I am still adding a couple of coloring pages every week. Now there are more than 425 pages to choose from (click HERE). I keep doing it because I enjoy doodling. Some of the pages are very quickly drawn.

Others are more elaborate. These are usually drawn when I am stuck on hold on the telephone, or on an airplane.

You can color in these pages with anything – markers, paints, crayons or pencils. Today I am talking about how to use colored pencils to draw from scratch, or to color in line drawings.

Colored pencils reward slowness. You can start by drawing a line, or several.

Margaret Chodos-Irvine drawing

But the true beauty of colored pencils comes when you slow down. The colors glow if you take your time and draw over and over an area with a pencil.

Birthday card by Margaret Chodos-Irvine, drawn with a multi-color pencil

You can create shading and volume.

Shapes drawn by Jennifer Kennard

Here is a sequence of a drawing in progress. I did this using one multi-colored pencil and one yellow pencil.

Colored pencils are more vibrant if you use them on a soft paper. A paper with some texture in it is sometimes called “toothy”. Those teeth hold onto the colors.

If you draw a hard line on soft paper with a light-colored pencil, and then shade over with a darker colored pencil you can create a layered look, like the wax resist lines in batik or pysanky.

Colored pencils can create a soft glow.

Fruit and Flower Lady by Julie Paschkis

Sometimes that glow is unearthly! These drawings are by Edward Deeds from his book, the Electric Pencil.

Edward Deeds
by Edward Deeds

Sometimes I color in some of my own pages that I have posted.

I hope you will dip your toes into the world of coloring – either starting from scratch, or coloring in my pages or anyone’s pages.

I would love to see your drawings – please send them to Thank you!

Julie Paschkis

Don’t worry about coloring inside the lines.

Eleven Years, 100 Books

[The images in this post reflect my eleven favorite Book Group books over eleven years.]

I discovered the other day that the book I’m reading this month with my book group (Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver – fascinating story based on David Copperfield by Charles Dickens!) is the 100th book we have read together. 100 books! Of course, we’ve been choosing and reading and discussing books since 2012, and we’ve been friends for longer than that (some of us have been friends reading books together since our kids, now in their 40’s, were in pre-school!)

It’s just fascinating to look over the list – some of the stories remain vivid in my mind, others require something that jogs my memory. Some I began but put down – just couldn’t go on, not for me. Some I chose that the group loved, others I chose fell flat. Some I expected to like and was disappointed by, some I had no initial interest in and ended up loving enough to look for other books by the same author or other books about the same subject.

No matter what the book, I’ve loved sharing our responses, and being part of a group has taught me to read more carefully, asking myself to be able to articulate what I loved, what I didn’t (sometimes both in the same book.) As a writer, I often have stronger responses to style than to story – I’m less interested in plot or forward movement. I respond to the way something is being said and fill my books with marginalia or post-it notes. And I’m a slow reader – reading text as if it’s being spoken slows me down. You learn a lot about books and a lot about yourself by being part of a book group.

To that end, and because choosing the book is often the hardest part of the whole process, I recommend an article titled “How to Be a Better Reader,” published in 2022 in the New York Times. Of course, “better” is a matter of opinion, shaped by your answer to the question, “Why do I read?” But the article talks about choosing books, about reading more deeply and more critically, and it has the best list of links to literary reviews I’ve ever seen. The link is below: read through the article and see what you think.

I especially liked this part:

“To read more deeply, to do the kind of reading that stimulates your imagination, the single most important thing to do is take your time. You can’t read deeply if you’re skimming. As the writer Zadie Smith has said, “When you practice reading, and you work at a text, it can only give you what you put into it….In ‘Slow Reading in a Hurried Age,’ David Mikics writes that “slow reading changes your mind the way exercise changes your body: A whole new world will open up, you will feel and act differently, because books will be more open and alive to you.”