Friday 16 December 2016


Prompted  by an excellent post by Sheila on adult colouring books and a discovery among my books while unpacking , I'm sharing what you could say is my first attempt at an 'altered book'.

 The discovery  was this copy of  'Memoirs of a London Doll' still with my mum's notes attached from when she gave talks on toymaking ( she did City and Guilds in this as well as embroidery, I still have some of her innovative examples) . Although published in 1840, this was  an ex library copy published in 1926 and withdrawn from use at Darwen library in 1943 ( which is probably when my mum acquired it )
 As a child , besides playing at shops, I used to have a pretend library  of my own books where I'd write in the date at the front when it was due back just like the one which I was introduced to as soon as I could read ( so sad to see it's under threat of closure)

 But probably before I could write, I'd coloured in some of the plates with  wax crayons, and it's interesting to see the progression in skill. I'm guessing that I'd got bored  and finished the colouring books I'd been provided with and wanted something more challenging! The quality of the paper was much better too.  'Magic' colouring books that you wet to reveal the colours were always deeply disappointing.

This first one I was obviously trying out all the different colours in the crayon pack with mixed success - I've never been very good at( or motivated) to stay within the lines. Note the  early attempts at  colour mixing at the side!
The second plate  I attempted (at the top of this post ) is much neater with a more restricted palette ( and a squiggle of green felt tip - rejected for further use)
By the 3rd plate (below) I'd gone for a lighter touch with the crayons, 
 At that point I'd had enough of colouring in others works and did my own artwork at the back of the book - a patterned tent?  with a nice bit of frottage rubbing crayon over the tapes of the binding!
I don't remember being told off for colouring in this book  ( I probably thought it needed improving as my other books had colour pictures in !) but I remember  art materials and paper  always  being available.
The main reason I'm not interested in adult colouring books ( besides liking to draw my own designs) is that I don't like being constrained by the lines. At school in art classes I used to feel I wasn't painting 'properly' as my style even then was very scribbly and loose, enjoying colour mixing and making marks when everyone else was patiently and neatly going up to the lines with the colours provided.  Luckily good teachers encouraged me  and I didn't  succumb to peer pressure.


Julie said...

It's always interesting to find work from when you were small isn't it? I've often wondered why I don't get drawn into adult colouring books either, although I have bought a few only for them to be given to the charity shop. I was never any good at keeping in the lines either although I did used to try. You had a great love of colour back then and how lovely to have grown up with so much encouragement and art all around. My mum was creative with dressmaking and cooking and made beautiful dance dresses with all those layers of net that ballroom dancers used to wear. I always had plenty of paper and colouring/drawing equipment too and loved those Paint By Numbers sets. I think I must have gone off the rails somewhere as I never follow the lines or rules now. I hope you and Ian have a very Happy Christmas, Mags x

The Idaho Beauty said...

What a surprise to pop into your blog and see you've linked to my coloring book post! I'm glad you continued the discussion and included that delving back to childhood. Oh, yes, my mother would have been horrified if I'd colored in a book, but I can see why this book with its sophisticated illustration would entice a budding artist. I can't believe at that young age you were already experimenting out in the margins with mixing colors. I still find it difficult to do that right on the page I'm working on in my sketchbook, although I've started doing it a little.

And yes, although I was one of those who carefully colored up to the lines, I'm not sure it was because of any pressure from adults or peers. I think I was just always the kind of personality that followed the rules and liked to be neat and tidy. My best example to verify this is the way I absolutely hated finger painting. So you can guess what I'm thinking when some artist encourages to free yourself like a child and remember how fun it was to be messy. Um, not for me - ever!

How good though that you did have teachers who encouraged your more loose style. Thanks for sharing your "altered" book and recollections.