When I was about eight years old, I won a drawing competition. The task was to design a page for a “Debra the Zebra” calendar, and my little doodle ended up representing December. When I was told I’d won, I was over the moon! Just the thought of my drawing ending up on something that was actually going to be printed and sold was fantastic! I was buzzing! But it didn’t end there, as, not only was I about to be granted the fame and recognition that every 8 year old could dream of, I was also getting a fancy art set for my troubles!
It was a huge folding case filled with pens and pencils and pastels and paints – and I ADORED it. I would come home from school every day and go straight to my art supplies. I made comic strips with characters from The Beano, sketched monsters and dinosaurs, and, during the summer, I’d sit outside with my watercolours and paint my surroundings. I was a pint-sized Picasso, brimming with ideas and enthusiasm.
Unfortunately, I lost interest after a while. I don’t really know why. All I do know is that my art set went the same way as my flared jeans and appreciation for the Spice Girls – into the abyss of childhood memories.
However, that changed a few weeks ago, when I bought a colouring book on a whim. Not your typical dot-to-dot, Disney-princess-type deal. No, this is a cleverly marketed “adult” colouring book.
When I first heard about it, I was dubious. I didn’t really see the appeal of it, and when I saw the price of the books, I was hesitant. But, I’d just been paid and I’m not great with the whole “self-control” thing, so, before I knew it, I was home in bed with Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom* rested on my lap and Netflix playing in the background.
I finished my first project in one evening. As soon as I put down the pencil to admire my work, I was suddenly hit with a wave of nostalgia. All the pride I had for my art when I was a kid came flooding back, and I felt like I’d achieved something really great! I was so pleased with my masterpiece that I just couldn’t help snapchatting it to every contact I have, and plastering it across social media in a way that reminded me of running to my parents with a freshly-painted jungle scene and saying “look, look what I’ve done!” And now I’m showing it off here as well.
I think the main appeal of the book is that anybody can create good work with it. The drawings inside are already fantastic – but you get to add the colour and transform it into something unique and personal. To be bluntly honest, I suck at drawing. I still have the talent of a slightly-better-than-average schoolchild, but that’s not something to be proud of now that I’m twenty. But I still love arts and crafts, and this is the perfect outlet for me to express that.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get back to shading in my whale.
*If you want to buy a copy of the same book I have, here’s a link