FINDING MY QUIET PLACE WITH COLOURED PENCILS

Adult colouring in reduces anxiety and stress, and creates focus. It helps replace negative thoughts with pleasant ones.
from Johanna Basford's Secret Garden

BEFORE MY TIME

I have always loved colouring in, from my own childhood through to joining in with our children and colouring one page while they did the other. From there I had a break because it was a “kid thing” and nobody coloured in when they were adults.

One day in my 40’s I thought to myself that I’d ignore what was considered “normal” and I’d buy myself a colouring book and use it to zone out and enjoy the simple pleasure of adding colour to paper without having to think too hard. I found a Barbie colouring book that had lovely white pages that made the colours look prettier and I used to colour a page or two here and there when I had a little bit of time to myself.

Barbie colouring book - the perfect pictures for adding pretty colours to.

THE INTERNET

One day I was cruising through Google and typed in “Colouring Pages” and found some lovely pictures that I could print off and colour – a nice change to colouring Barbie and her friends. They were a little more complex, but still aimed at a younger audience.

My daughter found several for me and I used to colour them in and then post one to her occasionally. She’d put it on her fridge like she was my Mum and I’d given her my Kindy painting – it gave us both a smile. I even started putting one up on my own fridge now and then to give it a bit of an airing before tucking it away.

ALONG CAME ADULT COLOURING

One day the world suddenly caught on to the fact that there were adults like myself who really enjoyed this simple pastime. I hadn’t realized how many of us existed until adult colouring books started appearing around 2012. Apparently...
Coloring books are a form of adult therapy that have seen a growth in popularity in the 2010s. They reportedly bring people a sense of their childhood,and help with developing fine motor skills and vision, reducing anxiety and creating focus, and relieving stress and anxiety in a manner similar to meditation. Concentrating on coloring may facilitate the replacement of negative thoughts and images with pleasant ones. (according to Wiki).

Johanna Basford produced some beautiful books that year and I remember my husband buying me “Secret Garden” and “Lost Ocean” for Christmas.

Coloured pages from Johanna Basford's Lost Ocean colouring book
from Johanna Basford's Lost Ocean
Those books opened a whole new world for me – intricate drawings and designs that absorbed my mind and took me to a quiet place where the only thing I needed to think about was what colour combination to use and how to get the shading right. I had a set of 24 pencils and then bought some gel pens – they are SO pretty! Then I added in some crayons just to mix things up a bit.

COLOURING IN TODAY

Last Christmas both my husband and my son independently decided to buy me some more pencils – I suddenly had a myriad of different colours and some that were softer leaded than others. I ended up with a rainbow of new colours to choose from and different textures to blend and shade with. Of course that meant that I needed somewhere to put them, so I found a lovely little set of drawers where they fit perfectly and I can access them easily.

Perfect drawers for color pencils, pens, crayons - KMart

I’m still working my way through those two original colouring books, plus colouring in my old Barbie the Mermaid book with my granddaughters (passing on the legacy). 

Colouring in with the granddaughters - so much fun!
Colouring with the Grandgirls
I’ve added to the mix with some free downloadable pages from Johanna – her free Flourish series – which have made for a nice change. And I’ve discovered a battery powered eraser – amazing!

A page I coloured from Johanna Basford's free Flourish book
from Johanna Basford's Flourish

COLOURING IN IS MY HAPPY PLACE

It’s nice to be able to admit that I love colouring in without people looking at me strangely and wondering if I’ve regressed to my childhood. I love the peace that comes from settling down with a pretty picture with my pencils spread out in front of me - just waiting to start on a new creation.

I think the other reason it makes me happy is that I have very little artistic skill – I can’t draw or paint or produce art of my own, but having the foundations to begin with and the freedom to build from there just feels like a really good fit. I call myself a colour-er-in-er and I’m okay with that now. I have the time and the space to devote an hour here or there, and I often have a podcast running at the same time – it’s a kind of win/win situation for me.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Have you caught the colouring bug? I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re looking for something that’s a little Zen, costs very little, and brings some beauty into your life, then why not download Johanna’s free Flourish series and let me know what you think. If you are a colour-er-in-er, do you have a favourite book or artist to share?

from Johanna Basford's Lost Ocean
a last one from Johanna Basford's Lost Ocean

RELATED POSTS


Adult colouring in reduces anxiety and stress, and creates focus. It helps replace negative thoughts with pleasant ones.

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Adult colouring in reduces anxiety and stress, and creates focus. It helps replace negative thoughts with pleasant ones.

52 comments

  1. Leanne I tried the colouring-in thing a few years ago but found it really stressful as I'm not patient enough to focus on colouring inside the lines, then get annoyed with myself as the pictures looked crappy. Plus I felt bored.

    I'm not a particularly visual person and more about letters etc so realised perhaps it wasn't for me. I love that others find it so soothing though.

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    1. It's funny Deb - I saw a post on FB a few years ago of someone who'd started, got mad, scribbled all over it, and then said - "I don't think colourings for me" - it gave me a giggle. So yes, maybe words are your thing - book review writing leaves me cold, so each to their own Zen practice :)

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  2. I haven't but I know a lot of people you do. I love people who do creative things.

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    1. I love that I can claim a small iota of creativity when I do this Patrick - such a joy for someone with no artistic talent at all!

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  3. Oh yes, Leanne! I have colored a lot in Johanna Bashford's Magical Jungle and I was looking at getting the Lost Ocean. One of our fellow bloggers even has an Escapist Coloring Club that she allows us to share some of the things we've been coloring. You should totally come along. https://lindaghill.com/2020/04/01/the-escapist-coloring-club-prompt-april-1-2020/

    I've been coloring some pages with my A to Z prompts too. I color while I watch TV with the hubs. Love your pencils. I use markers and gel pens too.

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    1. Hi Janet - gel pens just make me happy - sparkles and fluorescent colours - what's not to love? I'll have to go and check out the colouring club - it might inspire me to new directions :)

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  4. I love that you say you're not that creative, but I think you are in many different ways - like writing and sharing stories and inspirations like this post. You are finding your own way and I love that. My husband enjoys colouring in and has an app he uses on his phone, I did try and it and it just didn't do much for me, I'm a bit like Deb I think, as she said in her comment, I'm not that patient. I'm doing better now that I have a granddaughter to colour in with so maybe it's something that will grow on me. Your creations are lovely and I'm off to see if any of Johanna's might suit my husband. Thanks for the ideas Leanne :)

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    1. Hi Deb - my husband does a little bit of colouring when he feels like killing an hour here or there. He HATES jigsaws, so when he digs out a colouring book, I feel like we're speaking the same language for that little bit of time. He's more into the "nature/realism" type pictures, whereas I like pretty swirly girly ones.

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  5. Hi, Leanne - I just have to say that the Organizer in me smiled with delight when spotting your chest of drawers so NEATLY displaying a rainbow of coloured pencils and thin makers. :D I wholeheartedly agree with mind-calming (Zen) activities. I am so glad that you have found yours. Your coloured pieces are beautiful (and very fun that your daughter stuck them on her fridge). :D

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    1. Hi Donna - maybe my colouring is like other people's cooking? You follow the guidelines and maybe do a few flourishes and then sit back and enjoy the results (only mine has less calories in the end product!)

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  6. Hi Leanne, I think I have the Secret Garden colouring book and look at your set up for your pencils - very professional! I tried colouring and enjoyed it but I'm really into reading so that is my relaxation - getting lost in a good book. I do enjoy colouring in with Ethan and Elliot though.Have a lovely week. #lifethisweek

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    1. I love colouring with the grandgirls too Sue - Sophia has amazing colouring skills - very good fine motor co-ordination (so I'm going to claim she gets it from me!) It's such a peaceful thing to do with them after all the talking and playing and buzzing aroud - it's quite a calming time and I love that.

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  7. Yes, I do colour in Leanne! My son gave me an adult colouring in book for Christmas and I was more excited about that than any other present! It started me on a very relaxing pass-time that I do almost daily. I love mandalas the most although the floral themed one I'm doing now is really good too. I need an organisation system like yours for my pencils - you've given me a great idea of what to do. My husband and I also do a colour-by-numbers app called Happy Colour on our phones which is really enjoyable. Enjoy your colouring, regards Christina

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    1. Hi Christina - I tried a few computer based colouring programs, but am definitely more into hands on and paper. I love the blending and the shading. The little set of drawers from KMart cost very little and make it so much easier to keep everything neat and organized - the colours don't get all mixed up like they used to.

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  8. How fabulous Leanne. It’s been very popular in the U.K. as well, especially during the various lockdowns. I so love colour and my fingers were just itching to touch the beautifully coloured pencils in your cupboard. As some of the comments suggest, it is not everyone’s cup of tea. However, as one lady says, writing is another form of creativity. We are all creative in different ways and it is the essence of creativity itself; endless variety!

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    1. Angelique I think you'd be good at it because you have an eye for colour combinations. I wish I had a bit of background in colour wheel combos so I wasn't quite so hit and miss. And yes, there's all sorts of creativity out there - and more since people have had to stay home and occupy their minds with something other than reading or watching Netflix.

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  9. It’s amazing how adult colouring hast taken off Leanne. I haven’t done it as yet but I can understand the feeling of zoning out that it brings. In my old life I was a quilter and cutting piecing together rows of tiny squares have me that feeling, and sent me to my happy place #lifethisweek

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    1. I'm amazed it became a trend - I used to feel like such a weirdo and never told anyone outside the family that I enjoyed it (it's a bit like people who have doll collections or other kiddie hobbies). It's so nice that it's mainstream now and I don't have to hide it under the table :) And yes, my quilting friends all find the repetitive, exactness, and piecing of quilting quite Zen too.

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  10. Oh yes, I have a few adult coloring books that I like to bring along on long car rides. I do find them relaxing and have bought myself a wider assortment of colored pencils to go along with them. Funny enough my mother finds coloring to be stressful! I was really surprised to find that out on one of our weekend trips to visit my sister when we all stopped by the art museum and they had a hands- on exhibit.

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    1. Hi Joanne - I bought my Mum a colouring book and pencils etc and she hated it. Gave them back to me and said it wasn't her thing. I must say that I was a little bit taken aback by it, but I guess there are people who like to colour between the lines, and others who can't be bothered with the concentration it takes to produce something pretty.

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  11. Leanne thanks sharing your love of colouring! I love the smell of a fresh box of crayons and now that I know others are not hiding their midlife colouring activities I am going to invest in a new one (as soon as our latest lockdown is lifted).

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    1. Hi Christine - I love my wind-up crayons and I'm a huge fan of gel pens for fine line colouring. The range of pencils out there is also huge now it's all become more mainstream - so nice to finally be able to come out of the colouring closet :)

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  12. Thanks for reminding me about coloring. You have a great set of pencils! I used to do adult coloring. You are right - it IS so relaxing. Something to make your mind shut off for a while. I somehow got out of the habit. I think I need to pull our my pencils and markers and coloring pages again. What a great stress reliever!

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    1. Hi Laurie - I find it's a nice thing to have in my repetoire of "quiet" activities - along with reading, jigsaws, blogging etc. Now I'm not working, I like having a range of things to do that occupy my mind without stressing me out. I also like that I can be listening to a podcast when I colour - so a two for the price of one package deal.

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  13. I've often wondered about colouring because, well, the colours - and would be drawn to both the pencils, that lovely little drawer, and that fantabulous ocean colouring book.

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    1. Jo - you wouldn't have a spare hour in your day to colour! But (I mentioned in my reply to Donna) I think it ties in well with baking - following some pre-set structure, but adding your own embellishments. It's great for turning off my brain and I know that's what happens for you when you cook x

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  14. I love colouring in too Leanne. Loved it as a kid and still love it now. In fact I do it every morning as I have my coffee but on an app - colouring with my finger. It's not quite the same but it stills my mind and relaxes me. I do the original kind of colouring too at times. Another idea you might be interested in exploring is paint by numbers sets. A friend of mine buys these and has created the most beautiful paintings that she gets framed and has on her walls. BTW - I love the owl picture at the top of our post. I have a thing for owls! Have a great week!

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    1. Hi Min - I saw some of those paint by number kits at the shop the other day and was very tempted - I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for a picture I like and I'll have a go. I tried my hand at diamond dots a while back - similar idea but very fiddly - not something I'd do all the time, but I'd definitely do another one in the years to come. It's nice finding creative things that take into consideration that not all of us are true artists.

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  15. This is something I never thought about. Thanks, Leanne, for introducing me to this. Looks like a very lively pastime.

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    1. Hi Pradeep - maybe something for when you head to your little place in the countryside for your next extended stay?

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  16. So glad to discover I am not the only one embracing her former kindergarten self by coloring! I just ordered a set of 100 colored pencils that came in the mail on Saturday. Have had a hectic week so haven't been able to play with them yet but tomorrow looks like the day! Can't wait to check out all of those shades of color. What a terrific storage box you have for your colors. Much easier to find just the right shade when you can see all of the options clearly. You color beautifully and so do the grands. Nothing I like to do better than color with my granddarlings.

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    1. Hi Leslie - 100 pencils - you'll be in heaven! Have fun and you'll have to post some of your work. I love that colouring has become so "normal" and there's so many resources out there now - I even bought a batter powered eraser - fabulous!

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  17. I think you made a mistake in your post...You meant I know I am creative now because I can choose colours that look awesome together and I encouarage others by writing this post. I LOVE that you do this. I am someone who found out about 6 years now that designing - from a copy initially - a mandala was way to concentrate on JUST one thing and it has been the secret to my managing my emotions at time. My set up is pretty cool, and I always have something creative to come back to. I love Johanna's generous heart and in the time of covid last year I sketched then coloured her 30 flowers pages. When my husband was crook with a virus a few weeks back he started a page in Lost Oceans. I find my hands sometime prefer softer pencils. I have a battery eraser now too and indulged in a USB plug in electric pencil sharpener. Saves my arthritic hands.
    Thank you for linking up for Life This Week. Next week, the optional prompt is Interesting. My post will be a continuation of Telling My Story as I am wanting to wrap the series up. It's great to have your blogging support on my link up. Thank you. Denyse

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    1. Denyse I always enjoy seeing your mandalas and the joy they bring you (and others). I think we often want to be the next Michelangelo - but it's okay to just be good at something and to derive pleasure in the process. I admire all those people who take lovely photos, or who bake or paint - this is my "thing" and it's such a relaxing and engaging pastime (as you'd know) and takes my mind off the buzzing background stuff.

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  18. My daughter gave me a set of colored pencils and a coloring book a couple of years ago. I haven't gotten them out in awhile, but it may be time. I do enjoy it. I've also hung on to a box of crayons from when our grandchildren were younger. Sometimes, you just need the richness and the scent of crayons. :-)

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    1. I love my wind-up crayons Christie - and I found that colour pencils work well with them - it gives a really interesting and textured colour. Definitely dig them all out again and have some fun.

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  19. I've been coloring for a few years. Not on a regular basis, but I do find it soothing. Right now, my favorite coloring book is one of mandalas. I'll need to check out Johanna Basford's stuff - oceans and flowers sound nice too.

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    1. It's amazing how many of us enjoy playing around with colour pencils Pat - I'd say it definitely appeals to a certain brain type - maybe it's the left brainers becoming a little bit right brained for a while?

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  20. Had no idea that this art could be so absolutely beautiful. Nor had I heard of a battery powered eraser. My favourite art activity when I have time is free form abstract work with oil pastels. Keep promising myself to take the time. Thanks for the creative nudge.

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    1. Hi Judith - I just find colouring so satisfying - it takes up little chunks of time and I can stop and start when I like. I'm thinking of trying one of those paint by number kits next - just to change things up a bit and see how it appeals. Oil pastels sound lovely too.

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  21. I totally understand this. I received a tin of British Derwent pencils last Birthday at my request. I also still have my favourite Superstar Barbie colouring book from the 1970's. It is so special that I never coloured it in when I was a child. I could probably do it justice now though!

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    1. I have the Derwent pencils and some lovely crayola ones too - they come in such lovely shades - maybe it's time to do some justice to that Barbie book? Keep us posted.

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  22. Hi Leanne, You created a very artistic post that evoked lovely memories. That fish picture is fabulous. What child didn't love coloring? My best memories of my paternal grandmother were sitting at her dining room table painting by numbers together. I loved your pencil picture as well. At my other grandmother's, I had a special drawer with my box of 24 Crayolas. Grandma was very thrifty and I cried the first time I had to peel the paper down because I'd worn the point flat. The box and crayons lasted until we moved when I was 15. This year we got Vince's sister, who is my age, a coloring book and pencils for Christmas. She loved it, and like a kid raced through and finished every picture before the week was over. Best gift EVER! Great post! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Hi Marsha - you reminded me about peeling down the paper on crayons - that was certainly a blast from the past! Now I use the wind up ones and love them. Glad the colouring book was such a successful present - they make some beautiful ones now that are relatively inexpensive - so nice when you jag a pretty one.

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  23. Hi Leanne, Your finished pictures are beautiful. I'm drawn to colours and do colouring. I've never thought of it as a kid-only activity. Thank you for sharing this #WeekendCoffeeShare

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    1. Hi Natalie - I love how many adults are colouring now and how it's become so acceptable. It used to be something nobody talked about, but now it's so popular and there's so many pencils and books available.

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  24. I think it is so awesome. I haven't gotten into it, but definitely love to color so I think I would love it. My youngest daughter who is 22 loved to color so I got her some neat pencils and books a few years back.

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    1. Hi Kirstin - I think you'd probably really enjoy it. If you loved colouring as a child then you'd find it even more engaging as an adult - just find the right book with picture that draw you in and you'll be set to go.

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  25. Interesting about the coloured pencils, Leanne. I find this is a great gift to give. I appreciate your candid story about the Barbie colouring book. Like you point out “adult therapy.” A perfect little set of drawers. You inspire me with your organizational and minimalism skills. I am pretty organized, yet working on getting rid of “stuff.” Your post has reinforced how the beautiful colouring books are still a good idea along with the colouring pencils. I have a few family birthdays coming up and I appreciate suggestions. An excellent post, Leanne! I also get it on the ‘hidden’ shout out.❤️ You have warmed my heart. We are kindred spirits. Thank you! xx

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    1. Hi Erica - I'm glad I could inspire your gift giving train of thought. I know that some people really don't "get" the idea of colouring, but there are many more of us who love to chill out and colour between the lines. I think in these stressful times that we live in, any opportunity to zone out for an hour or two here or there is a wonderful option to have available to us.

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  26. I had never heard of a battery-powered eraser! Woo Hoo!

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    1. They're fabulous Ellen - you can buy them at any office supply shop or from Amazon or EBay - much more fun than the usual boring eraser. Next on my list is a battery powered pencil sharpener!

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