IS COLOURED PENCIL ART DOOMED?


BOOK COVER copyThe ‘invasion’ of adult colouring books around the world has caused a sensation to say the least. Sales figures have surpassed all expectations and the ‘craze’ is not over with yet.

Millions of people have been introduced to (or reunited with) coloured pencils. This experience for most has highly beneficial. People who have little or no interest in art of any kind, have sought solace from a packet of pencils and a colouring book, and it works!

But what impact has this had on ‘seasoned’ coloured pencil artists? Their responses have been varied. Some see this ‘trend’ as simply kids’ stuff, not art, but craft. Others have welcomed the recognition of cp as a genuine art medium (we know it is, but many in the art world don’t or refuse to). Some artists see these books as an extension of cp art, but are they really ART books?

Last year I spent some time studying the adult colouring book market to see what was being published and what was being bought. It is claimed that these books aid in stress relief, and in some cases I believe this is so. What really irritated me was the large amount of black on many of the pages, so loud and so aggressive! Adding colour to these pages saw little, if any, reduction in the dominance of black. Most of the designs required very little thinking and challenge, and their composition was often sub-standard. These designs were aggressive, not calming in any way! Then there was the paper, often thin and cheap, printed on both sides. Why? To save money, of course! Why would you want to colour both sides of such thin paper? And when you have finished your book, what next? Buy another one of course! Buy a 100 more, then more…

But what if you so pleased with your efforts that you wanted to frame your work? There are some excellent books on the market, but they are few and far between.

Last year I decided to produce a colouring book that was a REACTION to the ‘cheapness’ that was flooding the market. I wanted to produce a book that ‘sat’ halfway between craft and art; a book whose pages laid flat and were easily removed. I wanted to create a book printed on ‘proper’ art paper (190 gsm acid free, recycled) that made people ‘think’ and make each page ‘their own’., and be proud enough to want to frame some of their work.   So I did.

My book has been on the market for nearly 6 months and the feedback I’ve received (and good sales) have encouraged me to commence a second book and hold workshops where the participants publish their own book and experience working with quality pencils on quality paper.

This ‘trend’ is not a threat to cp art, in fact it’s helping to raise the profile of coloured pencils and that must be a good thing! Mind you, there have been shortages of supplies of coloured pencils in many parts of the world. I wonder why?

I you wish to order a copy of my book, please email me at: artkleko@gmail.com

I also have a page on Facebook: You Add Colour

Richard

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About artkleko

artist, art curator, art teacher, art judge, art critic
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11 Responses to IS COLOURED PENCIL ART DOOMED?

  1. cindydrawpj says:

    I believe that this is not a craze its development in humanity. People are searching for deeper satisfaction, more personal fulfillment, happiness and inner peace. Creating art in general can give us that. This whole phenomenon is just timing. The time is right for adults to give themselves permission to play.

    Colouring books offer so much more than play though. This is is the thing that intrigues me the most. The activity of making marks on a surface is a form of self expression. People can express themselves through the way they colour in and the colour choices they make and they dont have the added comcern of the outine drawing.

    Colouring in books provide a bridge for many to step back in time to claim their lost creativity as a child and they also become a catalyst to propel us forward into a new healed future. Colouring in books provide a link between the everyday person and the art world because they are accessible. It’s going to be exciting to watch and participate in this new art movement as it develops and unfolds.

    • artkleko says:

      Thanks for your comments, Cindy. I hope the books take new directions over time. If not, they will lose their appeal to many of their followers.

  2. Brenda says:

    I’ve been coloring in Dover Coloring Books with color pencils for about 15 years. It’s a calming endeavor, much like meditation. It’s astounding how popular it is now, but I’ve yet to see any books out there I enjoy as much as my Dover books.

  3. I have a degree in art, have taught art, worked as a commercial artist and sold art in the commissioned art field for many years. Recently I along with my brother I had the sad chore of cleaning put a.deceased parent’s home. I found a box containing my kindergarten crayons, colored pencils and sharpeners. All I will.admit to being well over half a.century old. Giving it a try I used the pencils on a coloring book I had received for Christmas. They still worked after all that time. I admit to a feeling of nostalgia but also I was very particular in my shading and other techniques. And the paper was not up to the standards that I would have preferred. So on my level I would rate it a 30/70 .

  4. Nico says:

    As per my comment on Artists on Facebook, I don’t want to give you my opinion of “adult colouring books”, not long ago a friend commented on one of my drawings and said “aah, an adult colouring book”, I corrected her and replied, “no, I draw the outlines myself”….anyway…your question, “Is coloured pencil art doomed”…no it’s not, the “adult colouring book” is a past time for non artists (no offence to them) to feel “artistic”, if you started the artwork on a blank sheet, as in, no outlines, and it was completed by you, in so many colours where, how and how many times you wanted, and it looks good to you, sign it, date it, and its an art…and to add to my comment on Facebook, there’s a quote which states, “if you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself”, hmmm, I wonder what a 6 year old would do with an “adult colouring book”?, possibly, colour it in? Why not go for art classes, learn the basics of drawing a human face, an elephant, even a dinosaur….and compare the meditational value thereafter, just a thought…

    • artkleko says:

      Thanks for commenting, Nico. There are colouring books in the market (such as mine) that are very challenging and make you think, rather than just colour in. I, too, believe in art training, but that opportunity is out of the reach of many. That’s why I produced my first book. My second book (currently underway) will be even more challenging!

      • Nico says:

        I’ve got no doubt of the possibility in making it more challenging, even complicated, just a thought, what would the accomplishment be, for you to produce a book teaching how to draw a colouring book, or page to begin with, I’m sure financially it would not gain that much over your current books, however, would you then not become the colouring book itself, imagine the value of the platform. Maybe such a book would close the circle between both worlds…just a thought, have an awesome day!!

      • artkleko says:

        Good idea, Nico. Hope your day is a good one, too!

  5. Dianne Watson says:

    I’ve been thinking about your article for a couple of weeks now and Id like to make some comments. I began my adult career as an art teacher, and taught for several years. There were some (few) students whom I regarded as being very naturally talented and the rest were at best ‘ordinary’. I gave up art teaching, and went in different directions. I stopped drawing, painting or doing anything that the purists wouldn’t call ‘craft’. As an art teacher I would never have encouraged anybody to colour in someone else’s drawings.
    I notice that the marketing of adult colouring books is on the basis that they are meditative, or therapy, or some form of stress-reliever. Now that may be true, but I think that this is a wonderful and desirous side effect.
    Now I’m addicted to colouring – Johanna Batsford’s books by preference, and since I started, I’ve learnt more about colour and blending and layering and the colour combinations that ‘sing’, and I’ve begun to notice how very much more I am paying attention to the environment around me -like the vast number of colours in a single autumn leaf.
    I have a colouring buddy, and we meet to share new insights and show each other our work and see what the reactions are.
    So, what I really think is happening with the adult colouring movement is a clear signal to the fine art world that it has become too elitist and too esoteric. What, world-wide, people ranging from very talented colourists to absolute beginners is discovering the sheer joy of the visual space, of texture and colour, and patterns and shapes and all the wonder of seeing the world around them with new eyes.
    And then, even more exciting, this movement reclaims the gallery space with the virtual space of face-book and wonderful u-tube videos, and people are teaching each other the techniques, ideas and sheer pleasure of creative expression that the rarified fine artists have kept too long for themselves!

    I love my colouring time!

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