Marker Geek Monday: There Is No Magic Wand

Hey all! Elaineabella here with another Marker Geek Monday post for you. This week I’d like to sit you all down and give you a good talking to… ha!

Stamping Bella - Marker Geek Monday - There Is No Magic Colouring Wand!

There Is No Magic Wand/Marker/Coloured Pencil/Paint:

While it is true that the quality of our colouring supplies can vary a great deal, none of them possess actual magical properties to imbue the user with spectacular abilities. Just because someone you admire achieves wonderful things with a particular brand of marker or coloured pencil, it does not mean that you need to buy that particular brand in order to achieve similarly wonderful things.

It’s all too easy to assume someone was born with a particular gift, or that their work was only made possible by the use of a particular product. In reality, yes, people may have a predisposition toward a particular skill, it may come to them more easily, and the expensive supplies do help, but the largest part of the equation is work. To get better, you need to PRACTICE, not just spend more money. Also, you do not need to have a natural talent for something in order to do it well or to improve. You need to work at it, you need to PRACTICE.

NOTE: I’d also like to mention here that while I do create colour maps and supply colour combo suggestions here on the blog and in my YouTube videos, I’d actually recommend that you don’t get bogged down in following them. I provide them because I know many of you enjoy them, and because I know that I personally enjoy seeing what colours people have put together. The fact is however, that using the same “combo” of markers that I or anyone else uses does not mean your colouring will turn out the same way. You may lay down more or less ink, or use the markers in a different order, on different paper, and the results will be different. Use marker combos as a good way to get ideas for markers that will work well together, and to spark your creativity in how you combine colours, then use the knowledge you gain from practicing with your markers to build your confidence and come up with your own ways to use them. The same goes for other media like coloured pencils.

I Wish I Could Colour Like You!

It’s always flattering to hear/read this, and of course I love it when people enjoy what I do. I often think the same myself about the work of people I admire. What I’d like even more though, is for you to realise two things.

  1. The world doesn’t need another me. One is probably more than enough. BE YOU.
  2. At some point, we were all beginners.

I’m still hoping to and trying to improve. I don’t think I will ever be done. That’s part of the fun. Other crafters may take longer than me to learn the same things I have, others may do it quicker. The amount of time we have available for study and practice makes a big difference, so if you’re working a full time job, juggling family commitments and only get to colour on weekends or in the middle of the night when everyone is asleep, you may not progress rapidly. That’s okay. You’re not in a race. You don’t need to compete. Don’t be disheartened by other people’s achievements – be inspired, and know that you will get where you are going in your own time. The most important thing? ENJOY IT. If it becomes a source of stress and upset, step away for a while. Getting that hair or those pleats and folds just right isn’t the be all and end all. We’re colouring for card-making and enjoyment, not to win a competition.

Then Vs Now:

Here’s the proof that through practice and study, over time you can improve, and the supplies aren’t the ones doing all the work.


2009 is around the time I first started using Copic Markers.

Stamp: Dogwalkabella (RETIRED


Fast forward seven years to the release of the new Bella V2.0 images. Bellas have evolved, and so has my colouring (and yes, my marker collection too).

Stamp: Walkabella V2.0 (coordinating Cut It Out die set also available)

Even older is this one from 2007, coloured using Prismacolor pencils. Yikes!

Ten years later and here’s one of my current work in progress photos from Instagram, showing an image I am working on using Polychromos pencils (the pencils aren’t the important part, the 10 years of colouring in between are):

A post shared by Elaine Hughes (@markergeek) on

Stamp: Tiny Townie Hattie loves Halloween (coordinating die also available)

As you can see, I was most definitely a beginner at one point. It’s actually really nice to look back and realise how much I’ve learnt, and how much fun I had along the way. In all those years of practice are years of living and years of enjoying the hobby and the community around it. There are friendships that have come and gone within that community, people I have learned from and been inspired by, and hopefully people I have inspired and helped too.

It’s Ok Not To Be Perfect!

No one really is perfect, after all. Striving to improve and learn is great, it’s good for our brains. But in the process, give yourself a break. That pleat that isn’t in quite the right place? That tiny spot of ink in the wrong place? The slightly imperfect blend? The recipient of your card most likely won’t notice. We spend so long with our noses right up against our work, and we know exactly where all the little errors are, so we think everyone else sees them too. Nope.

TOP TIP: Time and distance are your friends! If you are absolutely fed up and hating an image you’re working on, (or which you just finished) put it to one side for a while. Walk away and do something else. When you come back to it, more often than not you will find you don’t hate it quite so much. I have a folder filled with coloured images that I have yet to put on cards, or images I stopped working on halfway through (by which I mean I had a tantrum and chucked it on the NO pile). Guess what? Flicking through that folder I mostly find that I don’t understand what my problem was, or why I stopped working on the image.

Another tip is to hold your work at arms length. You’re not meant to look at it through a magnifying glass, picking up on all the defects. When you hold your work away from yourself, you can see the overall effect, not all the minute detail, which is what your recipient will see when it sits on their shelf or sideboard.

Here endeth the lesson. Go forth, play with your supplies, have fun, learn and improve as only you can. Buy the nice supplies, but bear in mind that they won’t do the work for you!

Over To You!

If you try out the techniques shown in any of the posts with your Stamping Bella stamps, be sure to share! We would love to see the results and hear how you feel about them. Show off your creations in the comments below and even better, share your own favourite tips with us. Let’s talk colour!

If you are posting your images online, we would love to see them on Instagram and all the platforms mentioned above.  To make it easier for us to find you just use #markergeekmonday and/or #stampingbella as a hashtag. Even better tag me @markergeek and @stampingbella . We love it when you connect, so don’t be shy! Make sure you use the #SpotThisStampingBella hashtag on social media if you’re happy for me to feature your work in my Spotted On Sunday posts!

If you’re on Facebook join us in our private chat group Stamping Bella Sistahood to share your creations there and chat all things Stamping Bella related!

Until next time, HAPPY COLOURING!




  1. Lori Ritchie says:

    What an encouraging post, I’m a newbie so to know with lots of practice I can accomplish what you have. The only medium I have right now are pencil crayons and not good quality but I keep plugging away.

    Thanks for your inspiration and encouragement.

    • Stamping Bella says:

      Hey Lori, Elaineabella here! I’m so happy you found this post encouraging. Keep going!

      If you check out the last Marker Geek Monday link round up I did with a list of all the posts up till late July, you will see links to a number of coloured pencil related posts, including some where I show that you can achieve some nice results with budget brands like Crayola!

  2. Laura P. says:

    What a great post! I am one of those who gets paralyzed by trying to be perfect, which most definitely holds me back! You’re right, practice is the key. Thanks for sharing your “then and now” photos! There is hope for me, LOL!

    • Stamping Bella says:

      Hey Laura, Elaineabella here! Thank you for letting me know you enjoyed the post. I get paralyzed by it too, sometimes (and not just with colouring). A big part of the “journey” is learning to be kinder to ourselves, and letting go of perfection. Keep going!

  3. Louise Wagner says:

    This post was so inspiring! I look at my “beginner” cards from 5 years ago and my current ones and I’m amazed. Sometime we all have to stop and look back at how far we’ve actually come. As you said, it’s all in practicing. (But I’m still in awe of your mad coloring skills! Just sayin’.) Seeing your cards and watching your videos have helped me tremendously. Some of the color combos you use I would’ve never thought to use. So, I will continue to practice and who knows where I’ll be in another 5 years. 🙂 Thank you so much for all the time you spend to inspire and help others. You’re a true blessing.

  4. Judy says:

    Thank you for this post! I am one who will see others work and buy the supplies they used and then wonder why mine doesn’t look as good as theirs!! Off to practice!!

  5. Kirsty Vittetoe says:

    What an amazing post with lots of beauties!

  6. BunnyD says:

    I couldn’t agree more! Practice practice practice! And by practice we mean just keep on colouring your favourite stamps! I may never be another Sandy Allnock but my work is better than it used to be and I get great tips from everyone I can. Thank you so much for the continuing encouragement and lessons. I take my pencil crayons wherever I go with some things to colour when I have to wait. Time just flys by.

  7. Linda says:

    What an encouraging post. It’s important to have fun while learning. That being said, sometimes I have a trash can full of frustration. Then one day, I look at the skin I just colored and say, wow I like that, or that pumpkin I just tried to blend is the best I’ve ever done. I’m all excited and show my husband, look what I just did, and he says, ummm okay, nice. No, I’m far from great, and I’m not ready yet to post any of my cards, but I’m having fun. Thanks to the Sistahood for all the tips and ideas, what a great group to belong to. Color on!

  8. Nancee Purdum says:

    Oh how true are your words! I have learned so much by watching others and practicing! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  9. Christine Levison says:

    So very well said Elaine… especially the bit about spending more does not equal being better! I LOVE and am inspired by watching videos of people (including yourself) colouring and also to check out different colouring combos people have used.. but know that no two people, colouring the same image side by side with the same products, will produce the same result. And that is what makes us unique and is to be celebrated! We’re all special in our own way. I enjoy learning and it’d become boring if we were all perfect wouldn’t it? LOL! Hmmm, I think my soapbox needs putting away now!

    Christine x

  10. Woendi Levitt says:

    WOW….so very well said. I felt as if you were speaking to me directly. I’m so hard on myself when I use any coloring medium. Thank you for being honest and straight. I think now I will be able to have a little voice in my head telling me to “relax, just enjoy and don’t try for perfection”. Your talent is awwwww inspiring and it’s nice to know that you too get frustrated and feel your coloring is sometimes just “not right”.

  11. SarahC says:

    Yes it is practice that gets the results, but I still love you work. Like this little witch too.

  12. Erin says:

    Elaine this so true, I love your words and I couldn’t agree with you more … it truly is about the practise practise practise and have your own style … and loving the little witch x

  13. Jeanne says:

    Love your posts and seeing your beautiful artwork. What you say here is so true! Thirty years ago my medium of choice was Prismacolor pencils, but I gave them up when computers took over the design world. After leaving the communications industry several years ago, I discovered Copic markers, rediscovered Prismacolors and have never looked back. (No more Adobe Illustrator for me!) I love my markers and pencils – I even have a few of my original ones! Your coloring inspires me and challenges me to practice, practice, practice!

  14. Wendy Nicola Jackson says:

    Brilliant post! I’ve been drowning in some of the awesomeness that is coming from other colourists of late, feeling I don’t have the time or energy to be ‘so perfect’, with my colouring. But I LOVE to colour and perfection was never my aim. I just want to have fun a make pretty things. So reading this is inspiring and calming. I love reading your posts and seeing your colour suggestions. I’m new to Copics, so I’ve been pouring over a lot of your posts recently. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and down right awesomeness. It is hugely appreciated. Hugs, Wends xoxo (A ‘Crafty Kiwi Mama’)

  15. kathy A. says:

    Thanks for your great advice and encouragement! Your comment about “I wish I could color like you” reminded me of a conversation I once had with an amazing 20 year old pianist (who happened to be my cousin.) After enjoying the mesmerizing magic of her playing, which she made look so easy, I said, “I’d love to be able to play like that!” She simply replied, “You can. Just start practicing 2-3 hours a day for the next 15 years.” It taught me an important lesson about the commitment needed to learn a skill.

  16. Marjorie DUMONTIER says:

    Great creations!

  17. MaryN says:

    What a nice post!!! Very encouraging!

    Once again I am inspired !!!

    Today I put stamp/ink/markers to paper! 🙂

    And so it begins… !!!!!! 😀

    Thank you for this post!!!!

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