The Christian season of Lent is just around the corner, which means Mardi Gras is about to get down in many parts of the world.
Mardi Gras, French for “Fat Tuesday” and otherwise known as Carnival, is celebrated with pomp and festivity to mark the last day of eating rich food before fasting begins for the Lenten season.
One of the most popular Mardi Gras is celebrated in New Orleans where it’s considered a legal holiday. This Carnival event has been observed since the 1700s and is always done with street parties, lavish balls thrown by organizations called krewes, ornate costumes, loud colors and even louder music. If you feel like you’re stuck in a rut with your coloring, then maybe this exhilarating festival can help you get out of your creative slump.
Here are 7 ways to channel the festive Mardi Gras vibe into your coloring:
Go All Out
Mardi Gras is the very definition of maximalist. You can’t find clean, smooth lines here; when it comes to Carnival celebrations, it’s all about being big, bright and flamboyant. It’s all or nothing, so when you want to channel that Mardi Gras vibe, don’t be afraid to use bold and loud colors.
Save your subdued tones for later and go all out on rich, jewel tones and bright primary colors. Take inspiration from the many parades, krewes, floats, and masquerade balls that take place during Carnival season. Mardi Gras revelers often use festive and elaborate designs that are a total treat to the eyes, so use them as style pegs to make your coloring pieces come to life.
It’s All About Green, Purple, And Gold
It’s not a New Orleans Mardi Gras if you can’t find a blast of green, purple and gold everywhere.
These traditional mardi gras colors started way back in 1872 during the visit of Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich Romanov, brother to the heir apparent of Russia’s throne at the time. The Krewe of Rex chose the colors green, purple and gold to stand for faith, justice, and power. Since then, these colors have come to somehow represent the New Orleans Mardi Gras itself.
Green, purple and gold are obviously found on different sides of the color spectrum, but if you think about it, these contrasting hues actually added more character and identity to this cultural celebration. Take a hint from Carnival and try incorporating contrasting colors to your next project— you’ll be amazed at how interesting it will become.
All That Glitters
Mardi Gras doesn’t hold back when it comes to sparkle. Don’t you just love how things like beads, sequins, baubles and even confetti come to life when the light hits them? Their shimmer puts the “festive” in this festival and you can achieve the same fabulous effect by simply using glitter pens when coloring.
Matte, solid colors are great but if you want things to pop out of the page, glitter pens are your best bet. Use them to snag attention and highlight the details of the illustration you’re working on. It’s a tried and tested trick to add a bit of razzle-dazzle to your work.
Play Around With Texture
You can find a lot of beautiful textures during Mardi Gras. You’ve got feather boas, silk masks, sequins, chainmail and the ever-present mardi gras beads. These are all the rage during Carnival days— and they’re the perfect inspiration for when you want to play around with texture and depth in your coloring.
Creating depth makes your art look more lifelike. Playing with shadows and highlights makes the illustration pop out from the page, giving it that 3D effect. If you need a full-length tutorial on how to improve your texture techniques, don’t worry— we’ve got just the thing here.
If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, you can also use other media in your works. Have you tried using actual feathers, sequins or beads in your coloring? If you haven’t, maybe this is the right time to start experimenting with mixed media and have a ball of your own.
Patterns! Patterns! Patterns!
From the elaborate gowns to the fleur-de-lis, carnival masks, and ball invites, patterns are everywhere during Mardi Gras. Use these patterns to fuel your own creativity when you’re coloring something similar, like a mandala or doodle.
Use the signature colors green, gold and purple to really own the Mardi Gras theme or use analogous colors like yellow and orange to create a rich, ombre design by blending your pencils. Whichever way you wanna do it, make sure to pick a color palette beforehand. Colors that harmonize well with each other make the pattern look more organized and put together.
Add An Air Of Mystery
It’s pretty safe to say that the entire city of New Orleans is built on mysticism. It’s the melting pot of many different cultures: you’ve got New Orleans voodoo, European Catholic influence and even hints of paganism all coming together in one place.
Mardi Gras loves the concept of anonymity, too. The whole event revolves around fantasy. Masked balls are hosted left and right, and people shed their usual garb for something more fantastical. You, too, can add a dash of mystery into your coloring by experimenting with dark, dusky colors like purple, midnight blue, and rich, dark greens. Using glitter pens also lends a touch of magic to your works, so don’t be shy to play with them as well.
And Then There’s Food
Well, it isn’t New Orleans if you don’t have good old Creole cooking. Channel the Mardi Gras vibe by throwing a Carnival-themed coloring party with your friends and serve southern comfort food like gumbo, jambalaya, and beignet. If you’re feeling brave, try your hand out at making an awesome king cake, complete with icing done in Mardi Gras colors. Traditional king cakes have a little plastic baby baked in them and whoever finds the baby has to bake the next king cake and in this case, host the next Fat Tuesday coloring party!
Mardi Gras is a time to drop your inhibitions and go all out. For many southerners, it’s like a second Christmas; a day of revelry to celebrate life and culture. Let this festival inspire and help get you out of that creative rut. Channel its loud colors and don’t be afraid to experiment with bold elements. Add a touch of mystery and play around with textures. And last but not the least, free your creativity and enjoy coloring!