Borrowing from our state’s slogan, illustrator Amanda Lenz’s new “Colorful Colorado Coloring Journal” would make a whimsical gift for any resident, visitor or fan of the Centennial State. We recently spoke with the artist, who has lived here for about 20 years, to find out more about her first published coloring book that caters to both adults and children and pays tribute to local wildlife and greenery.
What made you want to be an artist?
“It’s just something I always did; I was always drawing and always coloring. I don’t really remember a time when I didn’t think that art was going to be part of my life. But I definitely started leaning that way in high school and went to college for electronic media and design, where I did a lot of painting and drawing as well.”
What inspired you to create the “Colorful Colorado Coloring Journal”?
“I felt like this was a really nice way to share information about Colorado and all the lovely nature pieces that we have, but then also offer a little bit of interaction and have people color it. It’s been really fun to see how different each person colors it and their interpretation of it.”
Did the landscape of Colorado help inspire the book?
“Yeah, and all the animals, and the flora and the fauna. I’ve personally seen pretty much every animal in the book in Colorado—except for the mountain lion, which is all right by me. It’s kind of magical to have those experiences, so that was really the inspiration. I’ve gotten a lot of stories about when somebody has seen a black bear, or a lynx, and some people have seen mountain lions, so they tell me those stories.”
Are the spreads based on actual places and animals, are they your interpretations?
“The style is really organic and kind of whimsical; I would say that’s my illustration style across the board. Some of the animal scenes are based on exact experiences I’ve had based on memory. The lynx spread is pretty much how I saw it in the snow in Aspen’s trees.”
What goes into producing and publishing a coloring book?
“I started sketching about two years ago, and then slowly began paring them with my research. Each of these spreads has a little bit of information on the particular animal or botanical or place that’s in it. And each spread also includes a nature quote—from Van Gogh to Jane Austen to Shakespeare. I started pulling all of those things together and then laying them out roughly with sketches.”
What coloring materials do you recommend people use?
“I’ve done some testing, and really wet markers will bleed through a little, but the book is designed to allow for that a bit. Otherwise, colored pencils and everything else works great.”