3 & 1/2 Questions: Marion Deuchars

Marion Deuchars Colour

3 & 1/2 Questions: Colour by Marion Deuchars


Hi Kids! We’re in for a treat today! Marion Deuchars, the brilliant author and illustrator of several creative books for children including Let’s Make Some Great Art and Bob the Artist (both from Laurence King Publishing) is in the house — or on the blog — today! What I love about Marion’s books is that they teach us about famous artists whilst helping us to create like them. Marion’s new book is called Colour (Particular Books/Penguin). Colour plays an important role in art, and can really brighten or change the mood of your drawings.

We’re so pleased that Marion answered our 3 & 1/2 Questions:

1. I love that your book shows explorations of colour: palettes created for artists, colour wheels and diagrams. What is the best way to play with colour?

I think it’s good to learn a little colour theory; start with the colour wheel; primary, secondary and tertiary colours. Complementary colours are any two colours which are directly opposite each other on the colour wheel, such as red and green and blue and orange. These colours when used together offer a strong contrast whilst being harmonious. Artists such as Paul Klee and Matisse used complementary colours to full effect in their works.

How colour behaves in relation to other colours is complex and often surprising. A red square appears brighter agains a black background and duller against a white background. Orange will look brighter against a grey background than a white background.

I found when I was making the book that it was good to have this knowledge of colour theory but equally important to discard it sometimes! Colour is an instinctive subject and I found myself deliberately breaking rules of what colours should or should not go next to another. In some of the spreads of the book I copied the palettes from well known artists. This was a great exercise for breaking one’s own habitual use of colour. There was one colour I copied from Matisse, a bright viridian green (Matisse used gouache straight from the tube). I realised it was a colour I never used and actually found it quite difficult to work with. However, looking at Matisses’ work (which I love) I could not help notice how often he uses this pigment. Getting into someone else’s colour head is transformative thing.

2. What is something you discovered about colour whilst writing this book?

I discovered that there are lots of ‘false truths’ about colour. An example is the origin of the pigment ‘Indian Yellow’. The theory goes that this beautiful bright yellow pigment was made from cow’s urine fed exclusively on mango leaves. The urine was dried and rolled into balls. It was coveted and sold for very high prices. More recently in researching her book Colour: A Natural history of the Palette, Victoria Finlay examined whether Indian Yellow was really made from cow urine. She visited the town the town in which Indian yellow was supposedly made for 400 years and found no history supporting the theory. It was more likely that Indian Yellow comes form a vegetable source. Perhaps because pigments were so precious and hard to obtain that a colour with an interesting story would always be more interring and ultimately easier to sell!

3. What colours would be in your distinctive palette?

I think my palette is stuck firmly in some of my favourite artists like Miro, Arp and Matisse and Calder. I like using bright pigments next to greys. I use a lot of blue. Blue is supposedly the world’s favourite colour, perhaps because we live on a ‘blue planet’. My favourite colour is cobalt blue and my least favourite colour is yellowish green.

Please complete this sentence:
I like to draw (or colour) __.

I like to use colour in a playful way. When making images for Colour, I would go into my studio and pick a colour to work on that day. I would then take that colour on a visual and literal journey. I pushed the pigment to its limits, changing materials, adding other colours to see incrementally how much it would take before falling into another colour category. I used colours I did not like, I played with colours I loved and with materials I hated. I was trying to explore colour relationships that were very personal and without letting my left brian (logical) brain interfere too much. Our relationship with colour and how we perceive, experience it, was well established before we had the language to describe it.

Thanks again Marion! If you enjoy art and creating, I highly recommend Marion’s books: Art Play, Draw Paint Print like the Great Artists, and Let’s Make Some Great Fingerprint Art. Please note: Unlike Marion’s previous books, Colour is better enjoyed by older readers, probably artists over age 10.

If you’re not so confident about drawing, you may want to check out I Don’t Draw, I Color! by Adam Lehrhaupt, with gorgeous drawings by Felicita Sala. It has more great advice about using color.

All images from Colour by Marion Deuchars, courtesy of the author/artist.

PS. Did you notice something different about this post? It’s in British English. I’m American, but have been living in Australia and England, so when I started this blog, I was confused about whether or not to spell “color” with a U, like “colour”. I decided to write in American English, but since Marion is also living and working in the UK, and this book happens to be the British version, it made sense to write this blog in British English. Cheers!


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I Don’t Draw, I Color!

There are a few books I love because they capture the spirit of what I try to promote on Kid Can Doodle — a love of drawing. One is Laura Carlin’s A World of Your Own, part picture book, part how-to-draw manual. It is exactly the kind of drawing book I wished I’d written, for its fearless drawing philosophy. The other is I Don’t Draw, I Color! by Adam Lehrhaupt (Paula Wiseman Books), about a child with a knack for coloring. What really makes this book come alive is Felicita Sala’s vivid, expressive artwork. Take a look:

I Don’t Draw, I Color!

by Adam Lehrhaupt & illustrated by Felicita Sala


I don't draw I color

The child artist claims he’s not into drawing, “I don’t draw, I color.”

I don't draw I color

I don't draw I color

But as he shows us how he colors, we start to believe otherwise. We see that he actually has a colorful way of drawing. He knows how to express himself through color.

I don't draw I color

I don't draw I color

I think the image above of color bursting out of him/her is genius! I know that many people regard a “good” drawing to be representational, but as this story shows, there is more than one way we can draw well. It’s what we aim to show you on Kid Can Doodle, and one of the reasons why we love this book so much. The book also teaches us about color: how it can change mood, add drama, and how it can add vibrancy to our drawings.

Images from I Don’t Draw, I Color! by Adam Lehrhaupt with pictures by Felicita Sala, courtesy of the artist. To see more of Felicita’s work, please check out her website.

For more on color, please see our 3 & 1/2 Questions interview with Marion Deuchars, about her book, Color.

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Favorite Doodle Books

We’d be remiss if we didn’t have a year-end list, so here’s our Favorite Doodle Books this year:


Most Colorful Cast

The Little Factory of Illustration by Florie Saint-Val (Tate Publishing) takes budding artists on a tour of a fantastical factory, helping them create a show by exploring collage, pattern-making and composition.


Adorable Instruction

Illustration School: Let’s Draw by Sachiko Umoto (Quarry) is ideal for artists who want a bit more drawing direction, especially in replicating the cuteness that is Sachiko Umoto. Learn how to draw people, characters, animals, flowers, plants and more!



For Fashionistas

32 Ways to Dress a Bunny (Wee Gallery) is one of three mini models to dress with doodles. You’ll want to collect them all.


Super Silly

Make Faces: A Silly Scribble Activity Book by Christopher Harrisson (Ivy Press) is appropriately titled and bound to induce a gaggle of giggles and a lot of doodling.


Cutest Concept

The Small Object Thumbprint Portraits by Sara Neuburger (Chronicle Books), the follow-up to her popular Thumbprint Masterpieces, comes with a two-color ink pad and stickers that cartoonists can use to complete the scenes.


Occupational Accessories

I Could Wear That Hat! by Ben Sanders (Thames & Hudson) is perfect for day-dreamers, doodlers and me.


Terrific for Typographers

Draw Your Own Fonts by Tony Seddon (Ivy Press) is designed for those who fancy fonts, and want to create artful alphabets.


Artfully Awesome

Marion Deuchar’s Draw Paint Print like the Great Artists (Laurence King Publishing) is fabulous—I love her drawings, handwriting, and books. This one introduces kids to fine artists as well as teaches art concepts through fun projects and activities.


Designer’s Delight

Lastly, here’s two books for an aspiring architect—they’ll learn about design and designers while developing their own design skills.
Archi-Doodle: An Architect’s Activity Book by Steve Bowkett (Laurence King)
Draw Me a House: Architectural Ideas, Inspiration and Coloring In by Thibaud Herem (Cicada)


PS. Our favorite doodler is Taro Gomi, author of Scribbles, Doodles, and Squiggles. Two lucky artists will win one of his mini doodle books: Cheer Up or Grumpy. To enter the prize drawing, just submit a drawing in our current Show & Tell, Loolygadoodling.



Images credit: Amazon.com or the respective publishers.



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