When you look at the bestseller lists, you’ll see quite a few colouring books for adults. Who’s buying these books? I haven’t heard any of my friends talking about them. Plenty of people do, though – Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden has sold over a million copies. Colouring is incredibly therapeutic – it used to be prescribed by psychiatrists for de-stressing and relaxation.
Earlier this year I attended a Pattern Painting workshop devised by local artist Stephanie Wilkinson, and she gave me a couple of good tips:
1 Buy yourself some Letraset Pro markers. You can get these from most reputable art shops. They’re pricey, but there is a very wide range of colours which are incredibly intense. If you look in the corner of my studio you’ll find my secret stash. Even going to the art shop to choose them is a treat (if you’re a colour buff like me).
2 Make sure the colours you choose have different tonal values. If you have no idea, a good way to find out is to take a photo of the colour chart on your iPhone or iPad and then convert it to black and white. As you can see from the colour charts below, colours that may look very different, like red and green, often have the same tonal value.
There are different types of colouring books available; some have detailed illustrations and others are pattern-based. There’s a good article about the best books available here.
If you’re feeling adventurous, though, you can do as Steph does and have a go at Pattern Painting, which is colouring in with patterns rather than flat colour. She can draw from life, but the rest of us might prefer to take shapes from different imagery to create your own composition. Use good-quality art paper so that the colours do not bleed, and sketch your image lightly with a pencil. The images that work best are simple ones.
Then, on a separate piece of paper, draw some little squares and experiment with shapes and colours. I made a Pinterest board of patterns that I liked before the workshop which you can see here. Once you are happy with your patterns, start colouring in. It’s not as easy as it sounds! Stuck for inspiration? Have a look at some of Steph’s lovely work here. Her studio is in Church Road Teddington – prospective buyers are always welcome, or you can order prints from her site.