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Calming Art Therapy: Doodle and Colour Your Stress Away (Creative Colouring for Grown-ups) is the fourth title in the Art Therapy series, and is published and was kindly sent to me to review by Michael O’Mara publishing. There are 3 other titles in the series, all of which I’ve reviewed – Art Therapy, Creative Therapy and Colour Therapy.
This book truly has worked as therapy for me and I fell in love with it as soon as I opened its pages. Of all of the titles in the Art Therapy series, I think this one has to be my favourite because it has the largest number of animal themed images which are my favourite pictures to colour. It’s an A4 book with really thick unbendable card on the front and back cover (also available in paperback) which serves as a great surface to colour on if you’re like me and don’t like to colour at a table, and stops your book getting damaged with bendy covers and bashed corners. It has a lovely thick binding that starts off a little too tight so the pages don’t lay flat but with use mine has loosened up and now lies flat for colouring and despite the images being printed over the entirety of each page, none of it is lost into the spine (be warned – this is not the case in the paperback). The images are printed double-sided but as with all of the Michael O’Mara books I’ve encountered, the paper quality is fantastic and I’ve never experienced any bleeding despite using a multitude of different felt-tips and fineliners though do be a little careful about over-colouring as it can start to show through after a few strokes or holding in the same spot.
The 100+ images are drawn by a number of very talented illustrators so there is a huge variety but in this book it’s not instantly obvious that it’s not been created by one person and the drawings flow really well giving a very cohesive feel to the book. There are lots of swirling lines, geometric patterns and abstract shapes but in equal measure there are captivating animals, flowers and scenes all stylised and just begging to be coloured.
So, what makes this series so special? For me, as an anxious colourer, this series is different from any other I’d seen before because many of the image have some colour already added to them. When I first flicked through the books I felt that this limited me because it forced me to use a colour that I would never have chosen like blue on a rhinoceros, orange on an eel and purple on a deer. However, this feature actually changed the way I colour forever because until I had these books I had always felt forced by the perfectionist in me to colour everything in realistic, natural colours. This series stopped me being able to do that and really freed up my imagination so that I felt able to add outlandish colours instead of just realistic ones. This has been very therapeutic for me and has really expanded my creativity and I’m sure it would expand yours too. Another thing that makes this, and the others in the Therapy series, unique is the Doodling section at the back. There are a number of pages with huge sections left blank for you to doodle in however you wish. They are all started for you so again, there is no issue with staring at a blank page and not being able to narrow down a colour scheme. You can choose the same colours, contrasting colours, colours that clash, all of the colours even. This book has been wonderful for me as someone that’s never doodled in their life because it shows so many examples of adding colour to a page without simply colouring in a block and then colouring the next block in a different colour. These techniques don’t just have to be used in the doodling section, they can be added to any of the other images in the book and you’ll find that they free up your creative juices when colouring in other books too as the number of possibilities for your colouring just expands.
The images have varying line thicknesses, different coloured backgrounds and some lines are printed in colour rather than black. A huge range of themes is contained within this book and while it’s not the most delicate, it really is an essential book to add to your collection. I find this book particularly calming and often colour it in bed when my insomnia kicks in and I find it really helps to settle my mind so that I can finally get to sleep. Some images are more intricate than others but actually this book is very well suited to the majority of you because of the wide-ranging content. It really is fantastic for all of you anxious colourers out there who agonise about colours and often feel increased tension at the sight of a blank white page with black lines on. This book is already started for you so you’re just continuing the process and somehow, that makes it so much easier to just pick up a pen or pencil and start. Of all of the colouring books I now own, this is the one that has helped my mental health the most. It’s not so intricate that it’s frustrating but is definitely for adults, not children and when I’m feeling really anxious the lines are just thick enough that I can colour without having to concentrate on every single pen stroke for fear of going over the lines. It’s beautiful, bold and full of colour and it really is a joy to colour and doodle in. I really can’t recommend this book highly enough and strongly urge you to purchase a copy just as soon as you can because it does exactly what it says it’ll do on the cover – Doodle and Colour Your Stress Away and provides Calming Art Therapy – What more could you want?!
You can get your copy here-Calming Art Therapy: Doodle and Colour Your Stress Away (Creative Colouring for Grown-ups)
N.B – For the few pages that have coloured shapes (e.g. the shells, umbrellas and trees) that you’re meant to doodle on, you may want to invest in some black pigment liners because water-based fineliners are repelled by the coloured printing and don’t look remotely black and take forever to dry. I purchased a set and love them and would highly recommend them so here’s a link to them on Amazon to see if they take your fancy! Staedtler 308 WP4 Pigment Liner Fineliner Technical Drawing Pens Assorted Line Width – Set of 4