At least not if it means leaving coloring – traditionally a “childhood” pursuit – behind!
I’ve had several discussions about coloring lately, with friends and family alike. It seems like a lot of people carry around the dirty little secret of liking to color – even though they are grown ups and, as such, supposed to be past all that.
I’ve never outgrown the desire to color, and for good reason. It’s relaxing. It’s a stress-reducer. It is almost meditation – it’s similar to the Buddhist pursuit of walking meditation, where you can let everything else in your life drift away and concentrate only on filling in the blanks, each new color driving away one more space of white, bringing the page to life. You can concentrate just on the movement of your hand, the flow of ink or lead or wax onto the paper, and for that moment, you are aware, awake, alive within your life. It’s an easy way to practice mindfulness and being in the moment.
Also? It’s a lot of fun.
In recent years, many adult coloring books have been published, which seems to be drawing more and more people into the hobby, as well as making people more prone to admitting their love. And while I adore the fabulous grown-up books that publishers like Creative Haven and Dover publish, I’m also fond of good old fashioned Disney books. They’re the best ones for crayons, with their larger spaces. Though I’ll let you in on a little secret; grab a dollar store pencil sharpener and use it on your crayons for tiny spots to get a nice sharp point. Just don’t use dollar store crayons for this! They tend to crumble with a sharp point!
Plus, there are a lot of benefits to coloring in crayon; you can get some great blended effects (as you can see in the background areas of some of these) by layering colors, you can achieve great, vivid shading, a great difference in color depending on pressure used, and of course there’s that great crayon smell. Who doesn’t love that?
More of my work in crayon, click on any thumbnail to enlarge:
But there are benefits to other tools as well. I’ve been known to use everything from sharpies to gel pens to oil pastels in coloring – it can be a great introduction into using mixed media, if you like to experiment with how different elements can work together. But I’ve found that for many of the “adult” coloring books on the market, absolutely nothing beats coloured pencils – or as they call them here in Canada (and I can’t quite wrap my head around the term, sorry!) pencil crayons.
Coloured pencils give you many of the same options as crayons, though some blend more easily than others. The crayola brand, surprisingly, are not very good at blending or at layering colours, which is why I am hoping to get my hot little hands on a set of Prismacolor pencils at some point.
More of my work in coloured pencils, click any image to enlarge:
I like these for travel for a couple of reasons. First, when travelling, I usually don’t bring my books, but print-outs of coloring sheets tucked into my other travelling papers. It’s easier and less bulky. Because of this, all of my sheets are one-sided. Markers can have a tendency to bleed through even nice coloring book pages, making the other side of double-printed pages unusable.
Secondly, I tend to do less blending/fancy stuff when travelling. Coloring on the road is about stress relief. I want colorful, bright, charming, not necessarily brilliant works of art. I use markers at other times for stress relief as well, usually for pattern-heavy pages where I just really want a brilliant burst of colour.
Some pages just yell formarkers. Like the one I’m working on now, seen here to the right. I mean, what kind of jerk wouldn’t give those froggies the right kind of psychedelic toadstools??
If you’re wondering where I find the printable coloring pages, some of my favourites come from the Dover Sampler – a weekly email newsletter that contains samples of – among other things – the hundreds of coloring books Dover has on the books. You can subscribe here if you’d like similar freebies!
So, ‘fess up! Are you an adult coloring addict? What are your favourite books and/or publishers? Show us your work or tell us why you aren’t ready to join in the colouring love in the comments below!!