a-touch-of-pollock“Forest Floor, Tasmanian Highlands” 

20 x 28 cms, Pablo coloured pencils on 190 gsm acid free paper

Own reference and imagination.

The tsunami of adult colouring books has subsided significantly in the past few months and there are many cp artists who are now breathing a sigh of relief. The impact of these books has surprised many in the literary world, amazed others and shocked the world of ‘fine art’. Many believe that these books cheapen art, devalue its creativity and should never leave the kitchen table. Many cp artists have been dismayed at seeing stocks of their beloved pencils dwindle at the expense of ‘colouring book addicts’. Is this a bad thing, or is it simply market forces at work? Why can’t everyone be ‘allowed’ to use high quality coloured pencils?

Mention ‘adult colouring’ in most of the Facebook coloured pencil groups and one is quickly ex-communicated. How dare you use that blasphemous term here! Go wash your mouth! I can understand that some don’t consider this to be ‘art’ in its true form. Colouring someone else’s design isn’t that original (but they can be coloured in very individual ways).Downloading royalty-free photos and copying them is okay (even if they are sometimes traced). That’s art isn’t it? Hand-colouring mass-produced prints is okay too?

The question is, where does one ‘draw’ the line when it comes to originality?

I DISLIKED adult colouring books so much that I designed and published my own; a book that encourages people to respond to what they see (interpret) in their own way, hence its title, NOT YOUR AVERAGE ADULT COLOURING BOOK ($29 inc postage anywhere in Australia, slightly dearer for overseas). Every time one of my illustrations is coloured, it’s done so in a very different way. According to many though, this is still not ‘art’ as we (supposedly) know it. Art isn’t about the medium, it’s about the message. If that’s true, why can’t you colour an appropriate design in such a way that it becomes a personal response? How can ‘fan art’ be considered creative and a genuine form of art?

There are some terrible adult colouring books on the market. I hate those with thick, heavy black outlines, with very basic desings; they are so aggressive looking. How in the world can they be calming? Why do so many print their designs on cheap (nasty) paper? Why have designs back-to-back? Why not bring quality into play? There are some high-quality books on the market, but they are in the minority.

Following the success of my first publication, I’m currently working on a series of drawings that will be available online.

Today’s featured drawing is one that will be available. The subject is a small part of the forest floor in the Tasmanian (Australian) Highlands, but with a twist. I have added a ‘touch of Pollock’ to the composition to give it more depth and complexity. I hope those who understand the work of Jackson Pollock will appreciate the addition!

Is this (my own) drawing an example of fine art or is it simply adult colouring? It mightn’t look 3D, or realistic, but then again, examples from colouring books can be very 3D, or flat and pattern-like.

Where does art end and craft begin?

We are supposedly modern thinkers, but are our attitudes way too conservative when it comes to accepting different forms of art?

I wonder how many ‘adult colourers’ have been ‘converted’ to the world of fine art?


About artkleko

artist, art curator, art teacher, art judge, art critic
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11 Responses to CROSSING THE LINE

  1. eyballs says:

    Well written, thoughtful.

  2. GRACE BRICE says:

    Your very last sentence is my point exactly Richard. Many people would love to try ‘art’ but are too scared of it. When they use adult colouring books they find that they can indeed do this and the books can be excellent want to practice our skills. I am all for these books – provided as you say that the book is a quality one.

    • artkleko says:

      Self-confidence is one of the most important traits that we all need to have in order to ‘grow’ emotionally and intellectually. Thanks for your comment, Grace 🙂

      • As someone who facilitates an adult art group I agree that confidence is so important and especially at the beginning of the ‘art’ journey. If that confidence can be started through a “good quality” colouring book (that allows for freedom of interpretation/colour) then I am in total agreement with people ‘coming to art through colouring books’. They are also a great opportunity to trial and learn and experiment with colour in a non-threatening environment.

      • artkleko says:

        Thanks, Maxine. The ‘house of learning’ has many pathways and many doors. It’s a pity that some on the first floor look down on those ideas that challenge institutionalised thinking.

  3. Edna says:

    The adult colouring book was a good idea, but like a lot of good ideas it was copied mostly badly and seen everywhere. Your designs are unique and personal and can be considered an art form the way you present them and a challenge to people who like working in coloured pencil/other medium but may not be up to making designs themselves.

  4. Everything has its place and can be valued for its own reason (a bit like people). People in general are so quick to pick fault, identify the negatives and de-value things. It is often easier than finding the positive/ value/ uniqueness or point of difference. Even thick black outlines have a positive value for visually impaired and larger shapes can give room for graduated shading or patterning within. Your colouring books are both creative and entrepreneurial and bring pleasure to many.

  5. Very good point of view. You know how to fight.

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