Start Where You Are

A journal for self-exploration

Start Where You Are is a “self-help” journal put together by an American artist, Meera Lee Patel.It is a book that causes you to think and contemplate about your day, behaviour, life and dreams.

91i5z-42velMeera Lee has used her self-taught artistic talents to produce beautiful, hand-rendered typographic compositions for every page of the book. She has selected appropriate quotations that relate to a task she has set the reader on the facing page.

Most of the tasks throughout the book require the reader to think carefully and write down their answers. Each instruction is to help people sort through their true feelings and put their thoughts into some kind of order. For example: “What is something you wish you could leave behind?”

Although Start Where You Are has not (yet) be medically approved by mental health professionals, it contains a lot of deep, meaningful, assignments that can help you to learn more about your own insecurities, anxieties and depression. Meera Lee admits in her introduction that it took her a long time to be comfortable with her own life and spent a lot of time waiting for the future to arrive, but not really knowing how to get there. She discovered that in order to move forward she needed to find out who she really was, what was important to her, and what she wanted out of life. Meera Lee confesses that this is no easy task and warns that some questions within the book will be harder than others – but ultimately Start Where You Are will reveal your true personality, hopes and dreams, and convince you that life is not all doom and gloom.

There is no right or wrong way to complete this book. It is not a course or a linear activity, therefore there is no need to complete the pages in order. Some pages may feel too difficult, which is not a problem – the book’s purpose is not to cause stress – you can skip that task and come back to it when you are ready.

I have found Start Where You Are very interesting so far. I particularly enjoy reading the quotes included in the fantastic artwork. They are all positive and inspiring, showing the brighter side of life. As an artist, I have decided to also use this book as a way of practising my art skills. Recently art journal photographs that have appeared on Pinterest have been inspiring me to make my own. Instead of starting with a blank book I am using Meera Lee’s publication instead. On each page I complete the task given, but instead of merely writing my answers down, I display them in some sort of typographic or illustrative composition. So not only is Start Where You Are benefitting my mental health and thought processes, it is helping to improve my art skills too.

I highly recommend Start Where You Are for everyone feeling a little lost and unsure about the future. Whether you have been diagnosed with a mental disorder or are going through a low period of your life, this book is perfect for you to help pick yourself up again. But please remember this is not a form of therapy and is not going to “fix” you. It will either be a bit of fun or something insightful depending on how you approach it.

Coloured in… Now what?

So many colouring sheets… Too many to keep…

Everyone seems to be enjoying colouring these days. The amount of different books you can buy is phenomenal, and it is so easy to purchase individual sheets online. But the question is, what do you do once you are finished (other than the obvious: beginning another page)? It seems such a shame to eventually throw these works of art away.

Here is a solution: turn them into something new.

A couple of months ago I was told about a group of women at a care home who had found a love for colouring. They decided to use their new passion as a way of raising money for charity. After finishing each sheet they turn them into placemats!

Making placemats is quick and easy to do. All you need is a colouring sheet, coloured pens/pencils, a laminator and laminator pouches. Once you have completed your amazing artwork, you simply put it through the laminator and you have a waterproof place mat to brighten up the table. These are perfect handmade gifts to give to friends and family, or as the women mentioned above have done, a means of raising a small amount of money for a charity of your choice.

Have fun!

Looking for free colouring sheets? Here is one of many websites to take a look at.

A middle finger’s perspective

Art Therapy: An Anti-Stress Colouring Book

Almost everyday since my post about my Art Therapy colouring book, I have done a little bit more. Above are only an example of SOME of the pages I have completed. There are still, what seems like, a hundred more to colour in. One thing that can be said about this book is that each design is unique. Some are of certain objects or animals, others are scenes, and then there are patterns or what appears to be complete randomness.

What I particularly like about this book are the thick lines, meaning that it is very easy to keep to the white space without accidentally going into a different section… But this book is not the point of this blog post.

This post is a warning to colouring enthusiasts throughout the world. Whilst colouring is meant to be a therapeutic, fun exercise, it can be disastrous to your physical health… well the health of your middle finger.

Meet the artist/colouring bump:

Not attractive, definitely not comfortable. And my thumb is beginning to go the same way, too. Now, of course, I will point out that colouring is not the only thing I do. I draw a lot and write often, which I expect are factors that contribute to the sorry state of my middle finger (Toby Tall).

You have been warned – BEWARE: colouring comes with consequences! (But totally worth it)

PS can you guess which colour I use the most?

12900066_10207454826920281_957231575_n

Art Therapy: An Anti-Stress Colouring Book

Doodle and colour your stress away!

61d6gncxsllI was given a copy of this colouring book, Art Therapy, for Christmas a couple of years ago, before they became the latest craze. It was not until during the past half a year that I seriously got into colouring. Some people scoff and ridicule the idea that colouring can relieve stress, however, in my experience, it really can!

This particular book contains drawings from three different illustrators: Hannah Davies, Richard Merritt and Cindy Wilde; however you would not know it as all the pages are a similar style. The images range from animals, flowers and objects, to basic and complicated patterns.

With hundreds of colouring books to choose from, what makes Art Therapy, and others from the same series, different from the rest? Firstly, most of the patterns have been started for you. Some people may argue this is a negative point, yet I find it quite useful. I use the starting colours as a theme to stick to throughout the page (see above for examples). I like structure and rule following therefore this is a great book for me. Secondly, the book is split into to halves: images and patterns to colour in, and unfinished images and patterns. The second part of the book allows the owner of the book to finish the outlines of the colouring pages however they wish before colouring them in. This helps to nurture and develop illustration skills. I have not attempted these pages yet as I am moving through the book methodically (I did say I like structure and rule following!), I will post examples at a later date.

The paper quality is extremely good, a lot better than many other colouring books I have come across. Even though I do not use them (I only use pencils), this book should be suitable for felt tip pens – although I would avoid Sharpies, they go through everything!

Now the downside… it is a hardback. Not the easiest to colour in with it on your lap whilst watching television (although I manage some how). I have only completed 21 pages so far and I am already worried that it is going to fall apart. Having said that, the other day I noticed that The Works were selling a paper back version! Perhaps invest in that format if you are thinking of buying this book.

91xg-6uryzl               10