In my draft folder sits a post I started in July, titled Summer Neurasthenia. I never did finish it, in fact, I did not even make it to half-way through, mostly because, while I was focusing on the reasons for being so damn uneasy and restless at the time, I actually picked up one of the many colouring books for adults that have sprung up everywhere since the beginning of last year. I drifted away from writing on here and started piling up colouring books. Soon I realised that I was becoming particularly picky about them and that what once seemed like 'nice enough' would never cut it if I were to put pen to paper. Yes, here's the thing, I use pens to colour, not pencils or felt-tips. Specifically, I use Sakura's Jelly Rolls, which I find to be of great intensity, easy to get into super-tiny detail and great at spurring me on not to correct anything, quite simply because I can't. It's a great antidote to terminal perfectionist syndrome.
I try not to surf the web looking at what others have done because instead of finding it inspirational I tend to beat myself up for colouring like a three-year-old, which is really amusing because when I was small I would never colour anything in. I was big on sketching, in pen, and on never ever correcting or colouring anything. Now I have approached colouring with no plans and no vision. I get a pen out of my case[s] and get to it so, trust me, it's better if you don't see. Here's a round up of my favourite books...
Joanna Basford's Enchanted Forest and Lost Ocean. The former was my very first book, while the latter was under the tree on Christmas morning, but of course Secret Garden is also incredibly popular. There's little I can say about this wonderful artist that hasn't been said or written already. The intricacy of her designs makes for a two-page spread to last for weeks as a mini-project in itself. And of course really good colouring artists create amazing worlds-within-worlds by adding more details of their own. Joanna's site is full of inspiration, including videos, and you can also find wonderful examples of how we're all at it with her books on Instagram #joannabasford which you can also view online.
Tangle Wood by Jessica Palmer is one of my absolute favourites even though I have not started it yet. This is because the quality of the paper is just mind-blowing and also includes glassine-type pages. I adore the thick, thick pages and, frankly, I'd like to develop a bit of a plan for this one before I crack the spine.
The Art Therapy series, which to date includes creative, anti-stress, calming, and colour, is my favourite because the paper is very thick and smells delicious. Also, 'anti-stress', which is the only book I own from this series, is huge and thick. I don't have any other colouring book that offers so many options. I could easily spend all year colouring just this one.
I also have Alice's Colouring book, which boasts the original illustrations for Alice in Wonderland, which celebrated 150 years in 2015. I bought this one as a bit of a trophy if you will. I dislike Alice immensely [and Peter Pan], but I think that the images in this book are so iconic that my own feelings needn't come into it at all.
For Christmas I bought myself the Kikki K colouring book which I've not yet started but will do soon. I like this one because, unlike all others I mentioned so far, it isn't intricate but rather looks like those whimsical collection of postcards designed by child-like hands. These are proper scenes and the paper is exceptionally thick... perhaps even a Sharpie could colour through these without bleeding, not something that has been possible with any of my other books.
But I've kept my favourite for last: Fantastic Cities, by Steve McDonald is completely wonderful, intricate and true to life. The pages are enormous squares, the paper is thick and the well-known sights are often re-imagined as fantastic mandalas, so that you can get to practice even your kaleidoscopic colouring prowess. It's a great book and one that I am planning to use watercolours in. Plus, I just adore Steve's work.
There are, of course, tons and tons of many other colouring books and by all means these are not the only ones I own. But ultimately I am not excessively keen in the more 'novelty' offerings, such as Sherlock's Mind Palace or the Corbyn colouring book [honestly... as if...], but I've found that it's more down to the artwork falling short of the intricacy of more abstract images, which I favour, with the exception of Fantastic Cities, than because of any other element. I like paper that is thick, because I colour with pens, and that smells good [Art Therapy wins here], as well as pages that are huge, even if it'll take me ages to complete them. Because, frankly dear reader, who's rushing here?