Colourful Blessings

Colourful messages to bless a heart, soothe the soul and calm the mind.

Colouring books appear to be on the way out, but colouring products appear here to stay. Shops around the UK, whether art focused or not, are stocking colouring themed items. Recently I have seen calendars, greeting cards, mugs, table cloths and duvet covers that require you to add colour.

One such retailer is Christian Art Gifts, who provide numerous colouring products such as books, bibles, journals and cards. From a friend, I received a box of 44 cards produced by Christian Art Gifts. Titled Colourful Blessings the box contains over three dozen (business-size) cards with detailed, floral illustrations and bible versus to colour in.

Designed by an unnamed artist, the beautiful images look great when coloured in with bright, cheerful colours, which emphasise the positivity of their messages. The intricate details require thin pencil tips to avoid going over the lines, however the thickness of the card is also suitable for finely tipped pens – potentially easier than constantly sharpening your pencils!

These cards are perfect for giving away to individuals, friends, family, those in need of care or encouragement etc. Being only 4 1/4″x 3 1/4″the cards are easy to slip into pockets, purses, handbags etc, however can also be stuck on fridges and walls as constant reminders of God’s love, peace and joy.

Most of my cards I have donated to my church to be sent out to people we pray for, others I will give to friends who need a reminder that they are loved and cared for. Although most contain a bible verse, there are a few that are less obviously religious, so you can send them to the agnostics and atheists, too!

Make sure you look at the rest of the colouring range at Christian Art Gifts. It is amazing how many ways to colour in there are!

Colouring with Purpose

Colouring books are great things to buy. They are fun, relaxing, beautiful, and make fantastic presents. It is impossible to only buy one book. Before you know it you have too many to store. But nowadays colouring is not only restricted to books…

One innovative colouring alternative are greeting cards. They are creative and personal ways of expressing you feelings, congratulations or sympathy for friends and loved ones. Many people have made their own cards by hand at some point, but these cards make it slightly easier to produce something (almost) handmade. You may think it is cheating, but everyone has a unique way of colouring. Every picture is different due to the choice of colours, type of pen/pencil, and even the way we hold said pen/pencil.

The pictured examples above come from a set bought for me from The Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall.Each one features a different type of bird: hawfinch, goldfinch, yellowhammer, coal tit, great tit and long tailed tit. Some of the cards are more detailed than others, but the final result relies on you, the artist.

There are loads of ready-to-colour cards out there. Look in art and craft shops, book stores and local gift shops to discover many of the different types. Also, websites like Amazon have a huge selection. Here are some examples:

  • Rebecca Jones has produced several ranges for The National Trust. Each set contains some aspect of nature: butterflies, flowers etc.
  • Prepare for Christmas with these cards produced by the same publishers as above.
  • Instead of greeting cards you could opt for Postcards, like these from Puffin, the publishers of thousands of children’s books.
  • You can buy cards for all sorts of specific occasions, especially birthdays
  • … and thank yous.
  • Even popular colouring books have postcard versions.
  • Colouring cards are just as relaxing as colouring books.

Sadly, these packs of cards can be expensive. However you can make your own coloured-in card. If you have finished colouring sheets lying around (or a book that’s fallen apart like I have) you can turn them into a lovely greeting card for someones birthday. All you need is a blank card to stick the sheet on (which will probably need trimming), and voila, one handmade card. Give it a go!

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Scribblicious

Scribblicious – The Works

My coloured drawings have amazed and baffled many people over the past few months. “How are you doing that?” “How are you producing shading?” “Are you using special pencils?” Well, no I am not using “special” pencils, however I am using a large variety of colours.

Many colouring pencil packs contain only the basic colours (e.g. red, orange, yellow, light green, dark green, light blue, dark blue, pink, purple, brown, black), which are usually all you need to complete a colouring sheet, or some such. In order to make artwork look more realistic or three dimensional you need many more shades.
5052089169708_zSome people, and rightly so, may assume that bigger packs of pencils are expensive; however this is not always the case. Most people living in the UK should be aware of the family friendly discount store The Works, sellers of cheap books, puzzles and art & craft supplies. Whilst browsing their Scribblicious range of art equipment, I came across a set of 36 colouring pencils for a ridiculously low price (currently £4 at time of writing).

As you can see from the picture above, there are 34 coloured pencils that include the basic colours and all the shades in between. There are also two metallic pencils – silver and gold. The Works claim that these 17cm pencils are “perfect for use at school or home, create beautiful pictures on paper, card and more,” and I completely agree.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, it is difficult to find colouring pencils with which one can create amazing art work. Often I find that they either break every time they are sharpened, or they are so hard that it is impossible to produce a deep enough colour without destroying the paper in the process. With these Scribblicious pencils I have not had a single problem: they have not broken, sharpen easily, and are very soft thus producing bright, satisfying colour.

As for my own artwork, I am able to use these pencils to slowly build up the shading in my drawings. By lightly colouring in using circular motions, I gradually increase the pressure until I get the tone I want, using the darker versions of the colours where shadow is present. Obviously you need to become skilled in this technique, which takes a lot of practice: it is not as though the pencils are magic, turning everyone into artists, however you do need a considerable selection of colours as in this particular set.

Scribblicious colouring pencils are definitely the best I have come across so far. I highly recommend them to everyone, and suggest you take advantage of the low prices in The Works. When purchasing art equipment many artists buy the well-known, expensive brands, but The Works have proved that being cheap does not equate to rubbish!

Who Says Pandas are All Black and White?

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Anne Belov is a satirical cartoonist with an obsession for pandas. She has published several books in The Panda Chronicles and has now produced a colouring book to go with the series. Pandas may seem like a peculiar subject for a colouring book since they are, as Belov puts it, “chromatically challenged,” however the world around them is bursting with different tints and shades.

The pandas featured in The Panda Chronicles are not the typical bears you might see in a zoo, or endangered in the wild. Anne Belov’s pandas get up to all sorts of mischief. In this colouring book you can expect to find pandas in all sorts of locations, wearing a variety of odd outfits, taking part in highly suspicious activities. So despite monochromatic fur, there is so much to add colour to.

The Panda Chronicles Colouring Book contains approximately 60 single sided illustrations. Although the paper feels quite thin, the lack of anything on the reverse means that it is safe to use any medium you wish to fill the drawing with colour.

Belov’s drawing approach is not the typical style of the hundreds of colouring books you see in stores – i.e. thick, precise lines and patterns. Belov sticks to her sketchy manner that she has used in all the chronicles thus far. In fact there is reason to believe (although do not quote this) that many of the illustrations are from the original books. While standing out in such a niche market, these particular pages may be more difficult to colour in. Some contain many scribbles rather than clear objects, however that does not detract from the overall fun guaranteed with this book.

Pandas in unconventional settings are a great cause for hilarity and satire. Not only is it funny that these bears are parodying human life, but the things they are up to are highly amusing. One particularly comical scene contains a mother panda telling her child off for being the cause of the LEANING Tower of Pisa, to which the youngster protests, “I didn’t do it! It was leaning when we got here!” The wittiness continues throughout the remainder of the book.

I bought this book hoping it would be suitable for my “pandamaniac” friend, who on occasion tells farcical stories about her (imaginary) friend Miss Panda. Anne Belov’s colouring book is the absolutely perfect present for her. It is almost as if the scenes are written/drawn about Miss Panda herself, despite the artist and my friend having never met… Unless… oh the horror! Maybe Miss Panda IS real!

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Where’s Wally? The Colouring Book

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                                              The ultimate colouring challenge!

Everyone knows who Wally is. Created by Martin Handford, Wally first appeared in the book Where’s Wally? in 1987, and has since become famous throughout the world. The aim of the book is to locate Wally and all of his friends in numerous crowded, hand-drawn scenes.

Whilst the colouring book franchise is taking the world by storm, what better time to release a Where’s Wally? colouring book? The idea is the same as the previous Handford publications, in that the ultimate aim is to find Wally; however in this instance it is also left up to you to add the colour to the scenes.

Where’s Wally? fans will recognize many of the drawings from the original books, and therefore will already know where Wally is hiding – but it is much harder to spot him without his traditional red and white stripes being shaded in.

There are twenty-seven double-paged scenes to colour in and keep you entertained for hours. Those familiar with Handford’s illustrations will be aware of the detail he includes; and yes, you are meant to colour ALL of it! This colouring book will definitely take you a while to complete. The downside to such detailed pages is that there are so many tiny elements to add colour to. You will need to keep your pencils sharpened and sit in a well-lit area.

The pages are quite thick, but as they are double sided I would be wary of using felt-tip pens. Perhaps test them on the title page first to make sure they do not bleed through to the other side. Also, only fine tipped pens will be suitable in order to stay within the lines.

Many people believe that colouring is childish, but this book proves otherwise. You will need lots of control and patience in order to finish this book. Good luck.

Tiger or Pussy Cat?

I recently went abroad and wanted some colouring pencils that were easy to pack in my hand luggage. I found these half-length pencils in a local store that sells pretty much anything. They had been supplied to the shop by Tiger Stationery, which I had never heard of before, but I thought I would give them a go.

301681The cardboard packaging claims that the pencils are high quality with strong, break resistant leads, making them easier to sharpen.The pencils themselves are approximately 9cm tall and have smooth round edges, so no horrible dents in fingers from gripping them too hard!

For such a small pack of pencils there is a good range of colours. There are two shades of blue and green – light and dark – as well as all the other colours of the rainbow. There is also a black, brown, pink and maroon – the latter being a colour that is not usually in a typical 12 colour selection.

 

To begin with these pencils were great. They were easy to pack in my bag, did not take up too much room, and the colours came out fairly well in my colouring book. I did find that I needed to press fairly hard to get a strong, bright shade, which in small areas was not an issue. The problem arose when colouring in larger areas. The leads did not cooperate with my attempts to smoothly cover the white space, resulting in an uneven, scribble-like finish. (see second photo above)

So far these pencils were fairly successful for my purpose, although I quickly decided I would not use them for “proper” art work. But then I needed to sharpen them, and it all went horribly wrong. It seems that “strong break resistant leads” is false advertising on behalf of Tiger Stationery. The dark blue pencil was about 4cm high by the time I managed to sharpen it without the lead breaking. I could barely hold the pencil, and when I began to use it again, it broke immediately! The same thing happened with two thirds of the pack. Perhaps the pack had been dropped on the floor at some point, and was not a result of poor manufacturing, yet whatever the cause of these fragile pencils, they are definitely not strong or break resistant.

I am thoroughly disappointed with Tiger Stationery colouring pencils. After two pages the dark blue needs to be chucked away as it is no longer usable, and all but two of the others currently have broken leads. After a grand total of four colouring pages, these pencils are not going to be used again. TIGER Stationery? More like OAP pussy cat. I do not recommend.

Coloured Pencils That Actually Work

There is nothing worse (okay there is, but…) than sitting down to do some serious colouring-in with a brand new set of pencils and finding that they don’t, well, work. It seems silly putting it that way; how can a pencil not “work”? But, sadly, I have had this experience. I have had pencils that barely produce any colour no matter how hard I press, it is as if they are made of plastic. They also have a habit of tearing or creasing the paper as you determinedly try to continue using them. Frustrating!

Thankfully I have found a few sets of coloured pencils that do “work”, one of which is produced by Ryman Stationery. This particular set contains 12 Coloured Pencils and have been used to complete dozens of pages in my Art Therapy colouring book. This selection of pencils come in the basic colours you need when colouring or drawing: red, orange, yellow, light green, dark green, light blue, dark blue, purple, pink, brown, black and white; and are  in the classic hexagonal style so that you do not need to worry about them rolling off the table.

Each pencil is made of a high quality soft grained wood, which, Ryman claim make them easy to sharpen and less prone to breakages. However the best thing about them is the brightness and intensity of the colour – and you do not even need to press that hard! This makes colouring an easy task without the risk of straining your wrist or damaging the paper. For examples of the quality of the colours see the photographs above or in previous posts.

I have, mostly, been really happy with these pencils, nevertheless I have had a few issues. Despite declaring the lack of breakages, mine have often broken several times whilst sharpening. This may not be the fault of the manufacture however, but of my less than perfect pencil sharpener. Or perhaps they have been dropped on the floor a few too many times! This has resulted in me attempting to colour in with tiny stubs as a result of so much sharpening. (Maybe I ought to buy a new pack…)

Another downside to this set is there are only 12 colours, which can actually be quite limiting especially when colouring in an intricate pattern, or attempting to do some shading. Have no fear! These pencils are also sold as a pack of 24, which naturally contain a larger variety of shades.

Overall, these pencils are great. 5 stars. If you are looking for the right kind of pencils and do not want to risk buying a set only to discover they do not “work”, I guarantee you will not be disappointed with these. They’re fairly cheap too.

Happy colouring!

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Jigsaw Puzzle: Why won’t you love me?

Over the past year I have completed at least six jigsaw puzzles. They are fun to do and a great distraction from the trials of everyday life. But doing jigsaws is not for everyone. Many people roll their eyes and sigh “boooooooring” at the thought of attempting one. Others do not have the patience to sit for several hours, or days, tackling the harder-than-it-looks puzzle.

As a result of all the negativity, the completed jigsaw puzzle goes under appreciated. But have you ever stopped to consider the art work? I admit that some are of famous paintings that one could easily see in a gallery or online, however there are some that are actually amazing to look at and study carefully.

This blog post is actually inspired by the most recent jigsaw puzzle I completed. The Bizarre Bookshop produced by Ravensburger is an amazing work of art.

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This was designed by the artist Colin Thompson: “It is often said that you can escape into a good book, but enter the The Bizarre Bookshop and discover a treasure trove of wacky book titles. Each one has been inspired by a famous novel but has been given a curious twist. Take a closer look and you can even glimpse whole new worlds hidden on the crowded shelves.”

Now, I admit that I am one of the world’s biggest book lovers, and so this jigsaw puzzle was bound to appeal to me. What I want to share with you, however, is the incredible detail that Thompson has gone into to create this master piece. His use of colour is fantastic and his imagination is out of this world. I cannot begin to guess how long this took to draw – I am willing to assume it was longer than it took me to fit the pieces together.

Every time I look at the completed puzzle, and also as I was fitting it together, I keep noticing something new. It is an image you cannot get tired of. Even if it were hanging on your bedroom wall for a year, I guarantee you would still be noticing details that had escaped you before.

I had not come across the artist Colin Thompson before receiving this puzzle for my birthday in December. All his illustration work is crammed full of intriguing objects and humorous images. He began writing and illustrating children’s books back in 1991 and has now had published over 50 titles. One of his picture books The Floods is being turned into an animated television series. As well as The Bizarre Bookshop, Colin is producing many more jigsaw puzzles for Ravensburger; keep your eyes peeled!

So next time you complete a jigsaw puzzle, whether for fun or because an elderly relative forced you to join in, take a closer look at the art work. It may be, like with Colin Thompson’s work, that the illustration, painting, photograph etc was created purely to be turned into puzzle pieces. I feel like these works are dismissed so often due to the format they are shown in. They need to be celebrated just as much as those hanging in galleries!

Below are close up photographs of various sections of the puzzle.