Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Review: Coloring Flower Mandalas

Coloring Flower Mandalas: 30 Hand-Drawn Designs for Mindful Relaxation
by Wendy Piersall
Ulysses Press
A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher

     Adult-coloring books are increasingly popular. I wish I would remember what first attracted me to coloring, but all I know is that it was immediately one of my favorite stress-relieving activities. At first I was skeptical....after all, I studied art for years. weren't coloring books kind of....uncreative?

     Definitely not! There is a whole world out there of adult coloring books, and they allow for a surprising amount of creativity; it almost feels like a collaboration between you and the artist. And the benefits were immediate, at least for me.

     Among the coloring books I've worked in lately is Wendy Piersall's Coloring Flower Mandalas. Mandalas are a common theme in adult coloring books, probably because the mandala, a Hindu and Buddhist symbol, is associated with meditation and wholeness. Mandalas also tend to be fairly complex and detailed, which helps create the focus and stillness that make coloring feel like a meditative activity.

     Coloring Flower Mandalas was everything I look for in an adult coloring book. I have a range of coloring books at home; when this one came in, it took a place of pride on my desk. I color when I have time, when I feel a need to decompress. My desk holds a pencil sharpener, and a wide variety of colored pencils at the ready. I find it works for me to just keep a coloring book and materials handy. Then, I can sit down and go to work whenever I have a few minutes to spare.

     Wendy Piersall's mandalas offer a perfect focus for the adult colorist. (If that is a real term, I'll be surprised. But "colorer" definitely is not a word.). The mandalas are beautiful, and filled with enough detail to require focus....but not so much intricacy as to make the colorist feel eye strain. In addition, the pages offer some variety. Some of the mandalas are depictions of a single flower, while other mandalas are more pictorial (see below).

     Adult coloring books allow for a surprising range of creative responses. You decide what materials to use (crayons, markers, colored pencils), how hard or soft to bear down, how to layer colors, what colors to use. In the end, you have a work of art that is a collaboration between you and the coloring book designer.

     Here are a couple of pages I completed in Coloring Flower Mandalas:

     If you haven't colored for awhile (maybe years!), here are a few suggestions for how to get started:
  •  You can certainly use markers (fine tipped) or crayons, but I think colored pencils offer the best results and are the easiest materials to use. But try all the options and see what works for you. Maybe the smell of crayons will enhance your experience and help make coloring a calm and restful activity.
  • Try not to be perfectionistic, or competitive about coloring. Remember, the whole idea is to lapse into a relaxed and meditative state!
  • Be intuitive in your use of color. Go with the colors you are naturally attracted to. But a smaller range of colors will give your page a more consistent feel. Maybe you want to go completely wild with colors--if so, why hold back? If you aren't sure what colors work together, find a color wheel on line to remind yourself of which colors are complementary.
  • Set aside a space where you can sit quietly without interruption. Put your digital devices out of sight (and earshot!).
  • Above all, have fun. This is about creating a state of mind, not creating a perfect work of art (although you might be surprised at how good your results are).
     Wendy Piersall has several other coloring books, and I'm looking forward to trying them all out. For novice or experts at adult coloring, I highly recommend Coloring Flower Mandalas.


bermudaonion said...

I started coloring last week but haven't even finished the first page. I'm not happy with my color choices so I'm finding it stressful.

bibliophiliac said...

@bermudaonion-Oh no! Stress is the opposite of what is supposed to happen.... I think if you are very perfectionist, then coloring might not be as relaxing as it is supposed to be. Try reading up on color theory and see if that helps.

Rummanah Aasi said...

I'm seriously considering owning one for my high school library. We always have teens who just hang out and talk in the library, which is fine, but frustrating when you are trying to make it a productive environment. I think this one would have a great, study break activity.

Iliana said...

Wonderful review! I've just gotten started on coloring books and am in love. I always loved coloring as a child and this reminds me of fun times spent coloring. Will have to check these out.

bibliophiliac said...

@Rummanah Aasi-I think that's a great idea! They will love it. I've used "hidden picture" pages with high schoolers (for instance, during exams for early finishers). They get so absorbed.

bibliophiliac said...

@Iliana-I will definitely review more coloring books! I love them. Look for posts on Zentangle too!