7 Benefits of adult coloring books and how they can change your life

By Nicole Tinkham

7 Benefits of adult coloring books and how they can change your life

Adult coloring books are all the rage right now. If you’re feeling out of the loop, were here to fill you in on why they’ve become so popular this last year. For one, they take you back to a simpler and joyous time in life, you know, when nothing really seemed to matter. They allow you to de-stress and take your mind off of your current worries. They don’t require endless supplies plus you don’t need any special artistic skills to do them. Simply, they make us happy. We can all agree on that. But there’s also many other benefits to coloring, some of which you may have never known about. Still unsure about this popular fad? Here’s why you need to invest in an adult coloring book ASAP!

1.    Coloring parties are a thing now and an excellent way to get social. You’ve heard of crafting groups and artist groups before, right? A coloring party is the same type of thing but with a group of people who may not necessarily feel comfortable or confident enough to share their artwork with the group. Adult coloring books are different. These groups typically get together with their books and chat over wine and snacks. If you thought coloring was a solo hobby, think again!

2.    Some people meditate and others color. Like meditation, coloring relaxes your brain and reduces stress.

3.    Just because designs in an adult coloring book are already drawn for you doesn’t mean it’s not your own personal creation. This is your book and you can make it what you want. This gives you the freedom to be yourself and do your own thing just like a professional artist!

4.    Coloring enhances your vision, creativity, motor skills, and focus. Yes, all four! The vision and motor skills come into play when you’re coloring within the lines (some designs are super detailed!). Your creativity expands when you start looking at the various colors and how they work together. And focus also plays a big part even with a relaxed mind.

5.    Boredom and lack of routine can lead down a slippery slope to various disorders (OCD, stress, anxiety, etc.). Coloring helps take the focus away from these negative areas and puts it on a more positive and structured hobby.

6.    Coloring also brings us back to our childhood when things were simpler and we didn’t have to stress over work or other adult responsibilities. How often do you do things just because you can for the pure joy of it? We rarely allow ourselves that freedom anymore. Coloring makes it possible though.

7.    You can choose to do puzzles to sharpen your mind or you can choose to color. The two activities may seem completely opposite from one another but they actually both have intellectual benefits. Coloring uses the part of the brain that deals with focus, concentration, problem solving, and organization. Yet at the same time, you’re totally relaxed. Pretty amazing!

So do you still think coloring is for kids? You don’t have to be an artist to enjoy it plus it’s super simple to do. Grab a coloring book, some colored pencils, a group of friends and try it out! As always, we’d love to see your creations. Share with us your adult coloring book experience by posting a photo over on our Facebook page.

16 Shades of Yellow: Understanding Pigments

By Nicole Tinkham

16 Shades of Yellow(1)

Cadmium yellow, Hansa yellow, Naples yellow… All yellow, all completely different colors. How can this be? Yellow is yellow, right? In the world of art, describing a color as “yellow” just won’t cut it. There are warm yellows, dull yellows, muted yellows, intense yellows, rich yellows, opaque yellows, and the list goes on. Is your head spinning yet? With so many options, you may be wondering how to determine the best yellow paint for your next project. To do that, you must understand PIGMENTS. Here’s the pigment low down so you know exactly what you need.

Pigment categories

To understand the differences between the various yellows, we’re going to break pigments down into 3 main categories: Earth, Mineral, and Organic.

Earth
These pigments have been around for ages, were used for cave paintings and as you’ve probably guessed, found from the earth.

*These tend to be opaque except when modified by modern processes. Also, their intensity goes down when mixing with other colors.

What you need to know: Muted colors, sense of calm

Mineral

Mineral pigments on the other hand are found from metals, most being created when the Industrial Age began. Cadmium Yellow is a great example of this. The mineral pigment cadmium sulfide was used to create it.

*These also tend to be opaque and low in tinting strength but high in chroma (pure/intense).

What you need to know: Rich colors, creates excitement through contrast

Organic

Hansa Yellow would be an example of organic pigments (arylide) which are derived from pigments containing carbon.

*Organic pigments are normally transparent and high in tinting strength and chroma. These will give you the most intense yellows.

What you need to know: Intense color

Cheat sheet

Nickel Titanate Yellow- Mineral
Cadmium Chartreuse- Mineral
Cadmium Lemon- Mineral
Cadmium Yellow Light- Mineral
Cadmium Yellow Medium- Mineral
Cadmium Yellow Deep- Mineral
Radiant Yellow- Mineral
Radiant Lemon- Mineral
Hansa Yellow Light- Organic
Hansa Yellow Medium- Organic
Hansa Yellow Deep- Organic
Indian Yellow- Earth
Naples Yellow Hue- Earth
Yellow Ochre- Earth
Gold Ochre- Earth
Transparent Earth Yellow- Earth

Remember, not all yellows are created equal! Print this blog out and read over the three main pigment types before heading out to the store to pick up supplies. Think about what you want the final piece to look like. Are you going for a more intense or duller look? What other colors are you using?  Also, give yourself time to practice and experiment. Sometimes it’s difficult to picture how a certain color looks until you actually use it in a painting. Be patient and dare to try new things!

Stop wasting your time! More productive meetings start here

By Nicole Tinkham

Stop wasting your time!

Ever have a meeting drag on and on and nothing ever seems to get accomplished? If this sounds like a typical meeting at your office, you’re not alone. About 62 meetings are attended each month by the average employee. Half of those meetings are considered a waste of time. That’s 31 hours of wasted time each month! It seems silly to keep having these pointless meetings, right? It’s time to STOP wasting your time and start having more productive meetings. Here’s how.

Set an agenda
Too often do meetings get planned with only a general topic and a start time. Meetings should not be left open ended like that. Setting an agenda ahead of time will keep everyone focused and on task. Send the agenda out to everyone attending the meeting so they can come prepared.

Set a clear time to start
Never say a meeting starts at 9:30-ish or “in the afternoon”. Set a clear start to the meeting and actually begin on time. Don’t wait around for people to show up. One way to ensure that everyone’s on time is to set the meeting to start at an odd time, like 9:23 AM. Being specific will draw attention to the start time and help employees remember it.

Host standing meetings
If everyone’s nice and comfy sitting in chairs around a big conference table, it’s easy to lose track of time and go off topic. Standing meetings on the other hand run super quick. You tend to get right to the point, discuss everything planned, and end the meeting so everyone can get back to work at their desks. As long as there’s no paperwork involved, take standing meetings outside for some fresh air!

Keep them short and simple
Most meetings tend to default to an hour long or don’t have an ending time in place at all. This is a huge mistake as that extra time can easily be eaten up by topics not on the agenda. Look at the agenda and honestly consider how much time it will take to complete everything. Don’t leave any extra cushion room. If everyone knows there’s a time limit, things should be covered more quickly. We recommend 15 minute meetings. To ensure they don’t go past the allotted time, set a timer.

Consider who needs to be in the meeting
Sit down and think about who absolutely needs to be in each meeting. You may be tempted to invite just about everyone in case they can benefit from it. However, doing this only takes that person away from their daily job duties. Plus the more people there are, the more the conversation can get out of control. We recommend hosting small meetings with only 5 to 7 people.

No computers allowed
Have everyone go old school and jot down notes with a pen on paper. Remember those tools?? It’s proven that those who take written notes understand the concept more clearly than those who type notes on a computer. Why does this matter? If everyone clearly understands the topics discussed, there’s no need to go over it again and waste more time. Oh and leave cell phones behind too. They’re just another distraction.

End with action steps
It should be clear what each meeting attendee is responsible for moving forward. Wrap up each meeting with a to-do list so everyone is on the same page.

Make dreaded office meetings a thing of the past! It’s typically not the meeting itself that’s the problem rather the chunk of time it takes out of one’s day. The science behind a good meeting is simple. Keep it short and organized with a clear start and end time. Set an agenda and only invite those directly involved. Just doing these few things will save you and employees a ton of time and frustration.

Think you host excellent meetings? Tell us, what’s your secret?

Create Art: Why Children Need to Start Now

By Nicole Tinkham

Create Art_ Why Children Need to Start Now

Ever hear the quote by Picasso “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”? Think about it. Children really are excellent artists. They aren’t scared of taking risks, making a mess, failure, or the judgment of others. They just create. They have fun, use their imaginations, experiment with new things, and PLAY. We all could really learn a lot from them.

“The creative adult is the child who has survived.” – Ursula K. Le Guin.

Sadly, as we grow older our creativity tends to fade away. This obviously isn’t true for everyone. There are many incredible artists that are more creative today than ever before. But if every child is an artist, where are they now? Shouldn’t there be way more artistic people in the world? That’s why we believe in creating an atmosphere of encouragement and inspiration so much! We all have the capability to create beautiful things, and while that’s amazing, it’s not the only benefit art brings to our lives. Art actually plays a crucial role in the development of children. Unfortunately, schools typically focus more on math, science and reading and push arts to the side. Here’s WHY we think art is so important in the lives of children and their development.

Visual learning

Kids are overloaded with visual information every day. They’re able to use tablets before they can even read! However, children can benefit from visually learning from the real world instead of on the screen in front of them. Art teaches them how to interpret the information and actually use it to make choices.

Motor skills

Holding a paintbrush or coloring with a crayon are essential motor skills for children. Using scissors (safety scissors) actually helps children form the skills they’ll need to learn how to write.

Language

Just talking about art and the process brings up new vocabulary words. Children will learn how to describe things and learn the words for various colors and shapes.

Advancement in other areas

Practicing art actually has an effect on other achievements as well. According to the Americans for the Arts, “Young people who participate regularly in the arts (three hours a day on three days each week through one full year) are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, to participate in a math and science fair or to win an award for writing an essay or poem than children who do not participate.”

And even MORE benefits children will experience with art in their life…

•    Learn how to express feelings with or without words
•    Practice problem-solving skills and critical thinking skills
•    Collaborate with other students and adults
•    Build confidence (there’s no right or wrong answer in art)
•    Build community
•    Able to express personal voice

How to get children interested in art

We understand the role art plays in children’s lives. It’s more than just “playing around” with finger paint. Just like math, science, and reading are important for development, so is art. To get a little more art into your child’s life, consider the following ideas.

Keep art supplies as readily available as the TV remote or other toys.

Display your child’s artwork as if it belongs in a gallery. Get really excited over what they create!

Find books and tell stories about famous artists.

Create art together.

Enroll in art classes or a summer camp.

Attend local galleries.

Check out really cool street art in your area (Stop by Keeton’s and check out our community wall).

Go to art fairs.

Not every child will become a famous artist when they grow up but having art in their lives at an early age can help them in other areas (motor skills, language, visual learning, etc.). And it’s super easy to get them involved. Playing with crayons and paint is so much fun. Be sure to get involved with them and do it often. This is your opportunity to act like a kid again and play. Take advantage of it!

The secret to coming up with big ideas

By Nicole Tinkham
the secret
If you’ve ever found yourself frustrated when those brilliant ideas of yours fall through the crack and get unnoticed or just don’t seem as brilliant later on down the road, you’re not alone. We understand that there’s nothing worse than having that excitement or creative “high” be crushed within the blink of an eye. You may feel like a failure and you might be tempted to give up altogether. We’re here to tell you that despite what you may think, it isn’t you. It’s not your fault. This happens to everyone! Good new is anyone can get better at coming up with those BIG ideas that actually stick and we can show you how. Here are 6 tips to coming up with big ideas and the SECRET to turning that idea into a winner.

1.    Write every single idea down

Don’t wait for the winning idea to write it down. Brainstorming should be exactly what it sounds like. A storm is brewing in your mind and you just have to get it all out onto paper. Sometimes if you don’t write down an idea (even one you don’t like) it could hang over your head and prevent you from moving forward. There are more ideas in there that are just waiting to come out. Make room for them!

2.    Look to others for inspiration

If you read the same book over and over again, your mind will be consumed with the information in that book. You’re not expanding your mind or gaining new knowledge. You’re just going over the same thing multiple times. The same concept can be applied to your creative ideas. If you’re brainstorming alone, there’s only so much you can come up with before you hit a wall. Ask others for their opinions and ideas to open up a whole new book of ideas.

3.    Make the time

Ever try to think of a winning idea on the spot? It’s pretty difficult to do! Schedule brainstorming sessions when you have plenty of time to focus without interruptions. This is not something that should be done while waiting in the doctor’s office or traveling to work. However, when ideas strike unexpectedly, write is down ASAP and revisit it when you have more time.

4.    Think BIG

Instead of thinking from project to project, think about the bigger picture. Where do you see yourself in the future? Where are these ideas going? Focusing on your vision will produce great ideas along the way. These ideas will only propel you forward.

5.    Shift your focus

Focus on your ideas intensely but know when to call it quits. No matter how on fire you are, there will come a time when you fall into a creative rut. Instead of going at it and getting nowhere, shift your focus to something else. You can start thinking about a different project, go out of town for a few days, take a long walk, or do absolutely nothing at all. Just step away and completely clear your mind. When you finally get back to it, you’ll be amazed at the fresh ideas that pop up out of nowhere.

6.    Don’t count on luck

Mostly likely, a killer idea won’t just fall in your lap. Don’t wait around and hope to get lucky. All great achievements are backed by lots of hard work. It’s frustrating when something doesn’t work out but don’t give up. Edit the idea, rework it, start over, gain new perspective, clear your mind, get some help, and just keep on trying!

And the SECRET to coming up with big ideas that stick is…

KEEP IT SIMPLE!

We have the tendency to overthink things especially when we’re so focused on coming up with that one winning idea. For some reason we think an idea has to be extremely involved to be a good one when in all reality, some of the best ideas are the simplest. Sometimes that winning idea is the first one you think of! But you may shrug it off thinking you didn’t spend enough time coming up with it. It doesn’t matter how much time you spend on it or when you think of it. A great idea is a great idea! A way to tell if an idea is too complicated is to explain it to someone else. If you have trouble explaining it or if they just don’t understand it, it’s time to edit the idea.

Big ideas are in there. The trick is revealing them. Everyone has the ability to think creatively. Everyone has BIG ideas. If you’re struggling with yours, try some of these tips and remember that it doesn’t have to be complicated. Simple ideas are sometimes the best ideas.

How to take better pictures with your smartphone

By Nicole Tinkham

How to take better pictures with your smartphone

STOP! Before you hire a photographer to take professional photos, read on to discover how you, the amateur, can take high quality photos right from your smartphone. Whether you’re photographing your artwork, gathering inspiration, capturing special moments, or just trying to get an interesting shot for your Instagram account, we can help you seem like a pro even if you aren’t one. Ready to give it a SHOT? Here’s how to take better pictures with your smartphone.
1.    The rule of thirds
When you go to take a picture where do you typically align the subject? In the center of the frame, right? Actually, the trick is to break the frame up into thirds both horizontally and vertically in an imaginary grid (or your phone may have a grid option for you). Where you see the lines intersect is where the focus should be. See below for an example and notice where the star is. Your subject can be aligned wherever those lines intersect.

grid

2.    Use natural lighting when possible
Natural lighting will always give you a better picture especially when doing portrait shots. However, natural lighting isn’t always available. In the case of little natural light, reflect as much of it as possible using white objects like a white poster board or large white sheet.
3.    Use editing apps
There are numerous photo editing apps available for your smartphone which allow you to crop, rotate, add filters, change colors and more. Play around with them as well as the settings on your smartphone camera.
4.    Digital zoom is a no-no
Instead of using the zoom feature on your smartphone camera, get a little closer to the subject. Fill the frame if possible but remember that you can always crop the photo if you need to. Note: High res photos mean better quality. You should be able to adjust the resolution in your camera settings.
5.    Accessories to have
Two things to invest in: Attachable lenses (yes, they make them for your smartphone) and a tripod. Lenses can give you special effects like fish-eye shots. All you have to do is pop them onto your camera lens. Tripods are a MUST especially if you have a shaky hand. Many of these are small and portable so you can take them anywhere.
6.    Make the most out of panorama mode
Most likely, your phone has a panorama mode and we highly recommend you play around with it. Landscape photos come out great using this! You just can’t have anything moving in the scene.
7.    Clean the lens
Smart phones go through a lot. They get shoved in pockets, thrown in purses, and are touched throughout the day. Clean your lens frequently so you don’t end up with gunk in your photos!
It’s great to take all of these tips into consideration when doing some photography work but if there’s one thing to start doing right now, we’d recommend playing with your camera settings. You’ll start learning all the really cool things you can do right on your smartphone. Also be sure to look up some editing apps and play around with lighting. Quality photos don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Start doing these things to take professional looking photos right from your smartphone. We know you can do it!

Have you taken a brilliant photo with your smartphone? We’d love to see it! Share the photo with us over on our Facebook page.