On colouring and creativity

I write this as I sit on a train, heading to visit a hugely talented and creative friend of mine: someone who has been a huge source of inspiration and support throughout my creative ‘journey’.  She’s a modest girl, so I won’t mention her name: I’ll just say it rhymes with Wemma. Anyway, I digress.  

I write this as I sit on a train where, 10 minutes earlier, a girl in her mid twenties plonks herself down beside me, whips out her iphone and sticks her headphones on.  My heart sinks and I think: great, another digital zombie who’s going to sit scrolling, ‘socialising' and distracting me as I try to work throughout my journey.    But then something brilliant happens: she puts her phone to one side and whips out a colouring book and a set of coloured pencils.  My heart leaps.

I’m busy working on a new colouring book so can’t help but take the opportunity to do a bit of research.  I ask her: what is it about colouring in that you enjoy? Is it the satisfaction of colouring within the neat lines? Or is it just the sheer joy of putting pencil to paper and creating something colourful and wonderful: the satisfaction of completing and customising an image based on whatever mood strikes you? It’s the latter, she answers.  

I’m not a regular consumer of colouring books: I prefer to sketch and create things from scratch.  But anything that gets people to down their digital tools and put pencils to paper gets my vote! Colouring has become so mainstream and popular that it's not uncommon to find at least 5 different colouring mags on the shelves of Sainsbury's.  And, in a world so replete with digital distractions and stressors, it's easy to see why.  The simple art of colouring-in is meditative, restorative and - best of all - doesn't require wifi.  Colouring, drawing, sketching: it all quietens the mind and forces you to focus:  and there’s nothing more gratifying than the feeling you get when you complete a work: regardless of how 'good' you feel it is.  It's done, you did it: you brought it to life on the page in a way that only you could and can. 

Artists are just children who refuse to put down their crayons.
— Al Hirschfeld

I’m all about making art and drawing accessible to all: especially those who say they “can’t draw” (there’s no such thing!).  I use a combination of both colouring and sketching activities at The Social Sketchup workshops I run, and I’ll be doing the same in my new book too.

My book will be out in the summer: meanwhile, here’s a FREE COLOURING SHEET for you to be getting on with!  It would be fab to see your colourful hat designs on Instagram - #dulcimerdraws !  If you're stuck for inspiration, take a look at some of these fabulous designs created at a recent Social Sketchup!