The Joy of Adult Colouring Books
Last year I noticed what looked like beautifully illustrated books for sale in the shop. The images drew me in to inspecting a bit closer (I always appreciate nice images) and I realized that they were colouring books for adults. I started to see more and more of them popping up and decided that I just really wanted to buy one. It wasn’t so much that I had a sudden urge to do some colouring in (I draw a lot in my spare time anyway,) but they seemed like really desirable things to buy. When I went in to buy my first one I was approached by a few people that were really keen to share their new found love for colouring books. It took me aback how much enthusiasm there seemed to be for them.
I think I started a bit too early as there wasn’t a lot of choice at the time, but the collection of books available has been rapidly increasing to encompass most of the shop. They seem to be available to buy from everywhere. It’s not just basic patterns or nature ones anymore either, but you can get a fair few fantasy ones. I have a Game of Thrones book and have also seen ones for Lord of The Rings and Harry Potter (Although I find the best ones are less realistic as they give you more freedom with colours.) It’s amazing how much this interest has taken off. I don’t always have the time to colour in, but I have to admit, it’s really addictive once I get started. Alongside this, the idea of mindfulness has become a more popular one and makes me wonder if we’re all just longing for that escape.
There is some doubt as to how effective colouring in can be. I get problems where my thoughts feel like they’re running too quickly. It can leave me feeling agitated and unable to concentrate, at such times I find it helps to get stuck into something creative as I’m able to do that without needing as much focus. Trying to fight it leads me to getting frustrated and pacing around. I think repetitive activities (such as the stroke of a pencil or running) can be relaxing for us because we can get into the flow of it more easily than if we were having to overcome new obstacles. Either way, I don’t think it matters so long as you enjoy it. I’ve noticed that many of us seem to carry this attitude around that something hasn’t been worthwhile if we didn’t make enough progress in the time spent doing it, but it doesn’t matter where we end up so long as the journey felt good. Other scepticism I’ve come across is in regards to how creative it really is compared to learning how to draw. Learning how to shade and work with colour requires practice in and of itself, and I’ve seen some amazing examples of colouring that I think only an experienced artist could have done. It’s also fun to compare pages as they can vary wildly despite having the same images on them. Not everybody has art skills, but they don’t need them to give colouring a go, making it a more accessible creative activity. If it leads to them wanting to pursue other creative activities then it’s a great stepping stone. Regardless, colouring in is a relaxing activity because there is no pressure to produce something that is perfect, and can be considered as a place for free experimentation.
My grandparents use to treat us to new colouring books when we were younger and getting back into them has brought fond memories back to the surface for us. My sister and I have developed a bond over colouring in. We’ve started to have sessions where we do it together and then share the results. I like to leave the door open too, so that I can hear the birds and fountain outside. It’s nice to feel, for that short while at least, like we don’t have to be rushing all over the place.
I’ve always enjoyed working with colouring pencils because of the textures you can create with them. I worked with them a few times before I started to use these colouring books (see my attempts for The Little Painting Challenge – https://myinnergeekblog.wordpress.com/2015/03/30/the-little-painting-challenge/.) I’ve found that it’s a good idea to shade colours together by pressing lightly, but building up the vibrancy by going over several times. Textures can be created using techniques such as cross-hatching (shading with intersecting parallel lines.) Create a sense of form by shading in the direction of the surface. I’ve also found that when shading large areas it’s a good idea not to do it all in the same direction or it creates too many strong lines instead of a smooth finish. Check out the colour wheel for ideas on how to put colours together effectively. Strong contrasts between brightness and temperature can also help an image to jump off the page.
- For an alternate option to unwind creatively check out, What is Zentangle?