Julianne St. Clair’s Experience as an Adult Coloring Book Illustrator

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About Julianne St. Clair

Picture of Julianne St. Clair, Illustrator of Bless Your Heart coloring book.Julianne St. Clair works with HarperCollins Christian Publishing as an adult coloring book illustrator. I wanted to get to know her after delving into and loving the Bless Your Heart: Favorite Southern Sayings book. I began checking out Julianne’s website and Facebook page soon after getting my copy of the book. Having lived in the South for almost a decade, this coloring book was refreshing, funny, and brought back great memories.

It’s clear this woman has talent after looking at her illustrations and graphic design work. To know and appreciate Julianne’s illustrations, one must know something about her optimistic and creative spirit. When asked about inspiration for her work, Julianne mentioned nature first and foremost. She is drawn to nature, wildlife, and various shapes, colors, and designs found in outdoors:

“Truly, I don’t think there is a pattern or swirl that isn’t found somewhere in nature, and the possibilities, as far as artistic interpretation, are endless.”

Her work is also influenced by Art Nouveau painter Alphonse Mucha’s whimsical elegance and style.

When asked about how she occupies her free time, Julianne responded with more examples of being immersed in nature and all things creative: “I love gardening and working outside, walking, observing nature, and spending time with my wonderful family and dogs. My best friend, Jennifer Moorman, and I create stories together that she writes and I illustrate, which is always loads of fun. I also love to paint, knit, build things, read, and write little stories or poems of my own occasionally.”

Creating Bless Your Heart and Other Coloring Books

St. Clair entered the coloring book world in 2016. She heard from a friend that HarperCollins Christian Publishing was looking for coloring book artists. Julianne jumped on the opportunity and was soon commissioned to co-illustrate All Creatures of Our God and King. The publishing company then asked her to illustrate three other coloring books: Bless Your Heart, Indescribable, and Quilts, Barns, and Buggies.

The cover of Bless Your Heart Adult Coloring Book.I asked her more about the idea and creation of Bless Your Heart as the topic is unique among the Coloring Faith coloring books. Julianne explained, “HarperCollins approached me with the concept. Since I’ve lived in the South for about half my life, I was very excited about contributing my artwork to this project. The editorial staff compiled the sayings; then I created the illustrations based on those sayings and suggestions from the art director. It was very much a team effort and I think that everyone that had a hand in this book did an absolutely fabulous job.”

Julianne enjoyed completing the whole process of this coloring book, especially creating artwork that visually communicated or represented the sayings and phrases. It’s obvious Southern culture has a special place in her life as she explains,

“I really enjoyed visually highlighting some of the grace and elegance that exists in Southern culture but sometimes goes unnoticed.”

More on All Things Creative

I, of course, had many more questions for Julianne about the illustration and creative process, and tips for the Coloring Faith community. Here are some highlights from our interview:

Could you briefly describe your process of creating an illustration for a coloring book?

I start with rough hand-drawn thumbnail sketches and then create more refined sketches in blue pencil. I usually freehand, but I definitely use rulers and guides if perfectly straight lines and shapes are needed for certain subject matter. Once I’ve achieved a composition I’m happy with, and those sketches are approved, I create the final vector art with Adobe Illustrator and a Wacom pen tablet.

How long does it take one illustration typically take to complete?

It depends on the intricacy of the piece and the deadline I’m working with. I’ve taken as long as two or three days for a single illustration but have also completed up to ten in one day.

How long do you work at a time before you need a brain-break?

To prevent brain fatigue, I frequently use is a Pomodoro timer app. I will work for twenty-five minutes. When the timer goes off, I will take a five-minute break, and then get back to it for another twenty-five minutes. With this method, I can fit a lot into one day without feeling too fatigued or strained. It has definitely saved my eyes, back, and sanity during long workdays and time crunches. I’ll often listen to audiobooks or music to help keep my brain from tiring too quickly as well.

Is there anything unique about illustrating a book that’s based on a hymn or Bible verse?

I always take my artwork very seriously, but when Scripture and other related material is involved, there’s added gravity for me.

I contracted Meningoencephalitis as a newborn in the hospital. At one point, my vitals plummeted and the doctors were getting ready to call my family in to say their last words to me. But then it was like someone suddenly flipped a switch and I was perfectly fine and healthy. The doctors ran all kinds of tests on me as they’d never seen anyone recover so quickly. They warned my parents that I would have developmental problems, and have limited use of my hands, arms, and legs. This was mainly due to the extreme swelling on my spine caused by the numerous spinal taps that one confounded doctor performed after my miraculous healing.

I never had the problems they warned of, and I’ve been blessed to witness many other miracles in my life. Now, anything I create with my hands and creativity is an echo of those miracles and a testament of His glory.

So, yes, there is a unique weight there with Scripture and Hymns in the coloring books. In all things, I want to do the very best that I can. This is even more true with things that involve Scripture because His Word is very dear to me.

What do you think about adult coloring books?

It makes perfect sense to me why adult coloring has become so popular. It’s a joyous thing when people can tap into a creative facet of themselves they didn’t realize was there. It’s very therapeutic, to say the least.

Picture of a child coloring with crayons.For children, it seems creative expression is almost as easy as breathing. Maybe it’s because everything is so new and vibrant to us as children, and it seems natural to express our interpretation in an artistic way. As we grow and experience life, the newness and childlike wonder that fuels our creativity is lost, or at least dulled. But that doesn’t mean that it’s gone forever.

In my opinion, adult coloring books are helping to reignite that creative fire that many people have lost track of amongst the stresses and travails of adulthood.

Honestly, it’s something that I’m extremely excited to be a part of. My artwork is a huge blessing to me. I truly hope that it will also bless others and help to bring joy or peace in some small way.

Some Coloring Faith readers have shared their work online while others feel fearful about sharing. Do you have any advice to help readers make the hurdle between coloring and being proud of their projects?

Well, that’s something I can definitely relate to. I’ve always struggled with self doubt and feeling self-conscious about my artwork. There’s nothing more intimidating than a blank piece of paper, canvas, or a page of crisp line art waiting for color. My best advice is to simply start and keep going. Don’t let the fear of something turning out imperfect, or the possibility of messing up, ever stop you.

Your creativity is there, you just have to open the door and let it out. Give it light and let it thrive.

You will be amazed at what you can create when you cast aside your inhibitions and fears. It’s just like when we were kids—before all those thoughts ever entered the picture and we displayed our creations with pride and satisfaction.

Julianne’s St. Clair’s Coloring Books

It was great to get to know Julianne as the creator of my current favorite coloring book. It made me think about all those coloring pages and artwork I’d display on the fridge. I never felt unsure or scared someone wouldn’t like my work. Julianne reminded me of those moments, and how that can still happen today. Check out all of her coloring books, and begin letting your creative self flourish today- maybe you can even display your work in your home, or with others!