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Author shows off coloring book in Valley

VALLEY — Auburn resident Laura Murray has written and illustrated a coloring book that’s a fun read for both children and adults.

“Amazing Alabama” features all 67 counties in the state and includes many little-known facts that are interesting to learn about. She talked about her book and plans she has to have similar coloring books about Georgia, South Carolina and other states at a Friday Lunch N Learn event at Bradshaw-Chambers County Library.

“In ‘Amazing Alabama’, I have tried to combine all 67 of the counties with a little history about each of them,” she said. “I begin each county with a good bit of research, but there is no real substitution for hitting the road and exploring Alabama’s big cities, small towns and country roads in person.”

Murray begins her illustrations with light pencil sketches before inking in the details either on paper or a graphics tablet. Though she works in a variety of media, her favorite method is pen and pencil.

The Lunch N Learn participants sat behind tables that had colored pencils, color markers, brushes and some tin foil. Murray showed everyone the best techniques she’s learned over the years. She said that she has loved to color for 40 of her 42 years and loves to share the hobby with others.

“When I was growing up, my dad traveled a lot and brought me back lots of coloring books about the places he’d gone to,” she said. “Coloring is something kids have done for years and is now becoming more popular with adults.”

A Georgia native, Murray has been living in Alabama for the past six years.

“When I first moved here, I was looking for a coloring book about Alabama and couldn’t find one,” she said.

If there’s not one, she thought, why not do one myself?

“I studied the state and its interesting places,” she said. “I contacted a friend I knew in the publishing business and told her of my idea. She loved it and told me her company wanted to do it.”

Murray said that she found good sources online with the Encyclopedia of Alabama, the National Register of Historic Places, the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage and ruralswalabama.org.

“I didn’t take Alabama history in the fourth grade like many of you did,” she said. “I had to do a lot of research.”

Murray said the state had been going through an exciting period by celebrating its bicentennial over a three-year period. Alabama became a U.S. territory in 1817 and a state in 1819, when its population had swelled to 60,000 people. The state’s first constitution was drafted in Huntsville in 1819 and the state admitted to the Union on Dec. 14, 1919.

“All six of the state’s constitutions have been restored along with the Ordinance of Secession,” she said. “They will be on display in Montgomery through the rest of this year. It’s something interesting to see.”

Featured on the Chambers County page is the Langdale Power House, the 1836 LaFayette Presbyterian Church (now a library) and of course, the statue of Joe Louis Barrow, who was the heavyweight boxing champ from 1937-1949. Also shown is a grove of trees, indicating the importance of forestry to the county’s economy.

Lee County’s page has Samford Hall and Toomer’s Drugs in Auburn, a dog trot cabin in Loachapoka and Opelika’s vintage train attraction, the Rocky Brook Rocket.

Murray has some common sense rules when it comes to coloring: (1) Don’t work fast; take your time and use your imagination. (2) Always re-cap your markers so they won’t run dry. (3) Keep your pencils sharpened. “They color better and last longer if you keep hem sharp.” (4) Always test your ink, so that it doesn’t bleed through the page. (5). Don’t always follow the rules. “Experiment and find out what works for you,” she said. “I’m 42 and have been coloring for 40 years,” Murray said. “I’m always finding out new things. My favorite method is with the coloring pencil. I’ve found it best to get them on Amazon. Fine tip pens are great, too. I like to use them for the small details like the U.S. flag on the Saturn rocket and the lettering on Toomer’s Drug Store.”