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Why colour in?

Colouring in is rather seductive. I open up a book and beautiful images leap out at me pulling me in to fill up the black and white space with colour and expression without having to think or plan about it too much. It allows the right side of the brain to wake up and the left side to take a rest from the problem solving, thinking and juggling of every day life.

It helps me focus, keep calm, breathe easily and let go of any ruminating thoughts or worries that are bothering me. It is a form of meditation. It takes me into a creative space where the brain can settle and just be. It brings together mindfulness with creativity. I can sit and colour or paint and be with others and talk while I do art. I love how the blank page becomes something beautiful without worrying about my ability to draw or be an 'artist'. Colouring in is for anyone. It is a way to switch off from the stresses of life and just chill!

What can you colour in?

When I was a kid (that was some time ago, folks) all we had to colour in of any interest were big posters with Berol felt tips. Suddenly, a few years ago, the colouring craze for adults started and has taken the world by storm.

There are so many different books and products on the market, it might feel a bit overwhelming knowing where to start. Deciding what to colour in should be simple. Be driven by your love of the art... The illustrators are talented and some books are works of art on their own without any colour.

Postcards are a nice way to produce a project in a short time. The artists books are often copied onto smaller versions in the form of postcards and are lovely to send to people or frame.

Other products are coming onto the market such as cards and envelopes to colour and send and mobiles to colour and hang. Other artists are producing books printed onto watercolour paper which opens up to using watercolours and developing painting skills.

The art subject matter varies widely. Many are full of natural images, others buildings or abstract art. Mandalas are very popular; repetitive patterns which often originate from the Far or Middle East. The geometric patterns have roots in spiritual practice, which becomes clear when you attempt to do them. The practice of completing them, with whatever art medium you use requires intense focus and meditation as well as a lot of patience.

The key to a good product is a beautiful and interesting piece of art to colour printed onto good quality paper.

My favourite artists in no particular order are: Millie Marotta, Jessica Palmer, Jane Monk, Good Wives and Warriors, Jade Gideon and James Gulliver Hancock and Johanna Basford

Millie Marotta 'Wild Savannah' Jessica Palmer 'Tangle Bay'

This dormouse image drawn by Millie Marotta from her fabulously successful book "Animal Kingdom" combines a Mandala pattern with a natural image. You can buy her artwork in paperback, linen bound hard back, calendars, journals and postcards.

What can you colour in with?

My favourite material to use is colouring pencils as they are so versatile and easy to blend. There are so many brands and types on the market. My favourite are Faber-Castell, Polychromos. Most of the images on this site are coloured in using FB Polychromos. They are pricey, but worth buying. They come in various sizes. I paid £120 for a box of 120 and store them in beautiful wrap pencil holders.

Other materials are fine or thick felt tips, watercolour pencils, watercolour paints, pastels and other marker pens.

It is worth buying some samples first until you find your favourite. You can buy sets as it works out much cheaper. You can get some very reasonably priced sets from places like WHSmiths for under £10, but once you try the Rolls Royce of the colouring pencil world, there is no going back I'm afraid!! It is possible to replace single pencils, which is useful way to maintain a full range of your favourite materials. You can buy from specialist art shops or online.

  • A good alternative from Amazon for online art supplies is Art Discount
  • A great art shop can be found in Berkhamsted Arts and Crafts They offer useful advice and have a wide range of art supplies and books.

To learn how to use new materials such as pastels, watercolours and specialist techniques using pencils it is worth watching You Tube clips or buying books to teach you.

As I develop the blog, I'll add in more useful tips and links...

I used Luminance pencils, made by Caran Dache to colour in this Millie Marotta, Wild Savannah. Bought individually, they cost £3.25 each. I only bought 4 to try them out! Made with wax, they give a brilliant finish and blend beautifully. They are slightly more alive than the Faber Castell Polychromos pencils, but cost 50% more.

How can I find out about new colouring artists and products?

Here is how....

  • I have been following the blog of Lucy, a seriously hard-working blogger who reviews many new books, artists and products. You can find read her blog colouring in the midst of madness
  • Come along to our colouring group or ask fellow colourists
  • Read reviews online from places like Amazon Waterstones and Good Reads
  • Most bookshops stock a wide selection of colouring books. The best books shops for this are WHSmiths and Waterstones

To find out more about artists check out Spotlight on Artists in this blog page