Monday, February 29, 2016

Color Me Surprised

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago I won a copy of Barcelona Adult Coloring Book by Alexandru Ciobanu from Library Thing's Early Reviewers Program. I have since been working on three pages from it to try it out, see if all they say about the trend is valid, and show you some results.

I admit, I was a little skeptical from the start. I have not colored anything since probably the late seventies (I did color one Doodle Art poster for my bedroom when I was a teen.) I'm not inclined to revisit my childhood or adolescence, either, so I doubt I would ever have given this trend a test-drive without a firm push. When I want to do something calming and meditative I tend to sew or quilt, as making something practical and useful through art appeals more to me than just art for art's sake. I wanted to give this a fair shake, however, so I tried to go into it with an open mind.

I received the review copy in .pdf format, and selected three pages from the twenty-four in the book to color, which I printed out on basic white cardstock. From the first page I worked on I found myself almost immediately calmed and startlingly clear-headed. I stopped thinking about anything but the colors to chose and the sections to work on. It's the strangest thing, too, because I never stop thinking like that, even when I'm sewing. Once I realized what the effect was, I tried to think of something while I was coloring. Within a few minutes my thoughts drifted off and I once more became immersed in the simplicity of the coloring.

I might have been a little embarrassed that a childish activity would have such a significant impact on me, but it's not really childish. All of the pages presented artistic challenges that I enjoyed, from blending colors to get the desired shade to filling in tiny spots without erasing them altogether. Most kids would find this very tough to do. The images the author used for the book were also very interesting, and not at all what I expected from a travel-themed work.

For each page in the book you also get a coloring guide page to show you what colors to use in a quasi paint-by-numbers approach (which really, really helps.) My pages in these pictures are on the right, and for comparison the coloring guide page is on the left:

This page I colored with watercolor pencils, which was easier on my hands and, since I love watercolors, made it a bit more fun for me. I liked the bold colors and enjoyed trying to faithfully reproduce all the shading from the guide page.

I employed standard color pencils to tackle this very detailed window scene, but because I can't apply a lot of pressure with my fingers without pain the colors came out lighter than I wanted.

I think my best results came while using fine line Sharpie permanent markers to color this mosaic page.

By signing up for the author's newsletter I also received a .pdf copy of Garden of Paradise, a second, 54 page adult coloring book with a variety of intricate, interesting floral designs:

I think the only drawback to the book is that the coloring pages are likely computer-generated sketches based on the author's photos, which produced a bit of static dots versus the expected lines-only pages. I didn't mind that at all, but people who want simpler/easier pages to color might. Bottom line, I highly recommend Barcelona Adult Coloring Book for anyone who needs some relaxing calm in their life. It really delivers.


  1. I've always found coloring to be a bit mindless meaning, I don't have to think about anything at all. Not counting stitches, not counting beads, not watching the thread, how much I pick up or don't, how long my stitches's...mindless. I haven't done it in forever though so this review makes me want to start again. And I think I like the Sharpies one best for overall as well. Now that they come in a million colors, they've become really fun to use.

  2. I got an adult coloring book for Christmas and it's very fun. Everybody in the house has one now.

  3. Must. Buy. Sharpies.

    I've been working on the coloring book Animorphia by Kerby Rosanes, which is not only detailed, but almost surrealistic in the way that the animals become smaller more intricate animals and plant life. It's great. Beautiful. And yes, it's really odd in how you stop thinking beyond anything other than 'what color.'

  4. I'm on my third book now and have loved every part of the process, from picking the drawing to choosing the colors to losing myself in the moment. I used to meditate to calm my I color. Who knew?


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