The Pencil Playbook

The Pencil Playbook!

I’m officially smitten with activity books for adults. The coloring pages for adults are fun and all, but sometimes you want to go a step further and work from some drawing prompts.

I was sent a copy of Ana Montiel’s new book, The Pencil Playbook, cracked it open, and got to drawing. I was extra excited because the book is from Quarry publishing, the publisher I’m working with for my book, so obviously I’m in love with them already. Seriously, I love the stuff they put out.

Flipping through the book, you get a strong sense of Ana’s style- the lovely examples she gives for the exercises make the book really fun to look at, but of course you’ll be bringing your own style to the drawings you make.

drawing exercises from the pencil playbook

I started out with the exercise on page 74, making test swatches of watercolor pencils. It’s a simple exercise, but a good one to start with. Sometimes it’s intimidating to draw in an activity book at first, so this is a good warm-up exercise. Plus, how can you not like scribbling?

color swacthes

Feeling ready to tackle a big girl project, I moved on to the Plaid and Weaving exercise on page 64. I always tend toward the more graphic, contained projects, so this gave me an hour of bliss. The glass of wine I sucked down with it didn’t hurt, either.

I’ve been meaning to try drawing simple patterns on graph paper for a while, so this was perfecto.

drawing exercises from the pencil playbook

I found myself looking really closely at her example drawings at first and trying to mimic them. I think this is a natural tendency- where you feel a little nervous at not drawing something perfectly gorgeous, so you try to copy what you see. So I forced myself to just use the colors I was drawn to and draw the patterns I wanted to draw.

Here’s where I think art activity books for adults are brilliant- they give you a completely low-pressure way to experiment and play around with art techniques and ideas, all in a contained place, that you may or may not have done on your own.

INside of the Pencil PLaybook

They’re a safe place to try lots of different ideas, see what you like to do, and maybe explore some of those ideas on your own later.

What do you think?

Written by Joanne Gonzales

Joanne Gonzales has a passion for getting creative. Whether she is making personalized DIY gifts or taking part in larger arts and crafts projects, she puts her all into making new and beautiful things.

She lives with a group of close friends and believes in the natural way of life. Joanne has built an outdoor arts and crafts gallery that overlooks the countryside in her hometown, which is where all of her creations come to life.

Art started off as a hobby, but over time Joanne has mastered her skills and sold some of her favorite pieces. She works full time as a florist and has done for many years. It helps keep her creative juices flowing and she hopes to one day open her own florist shop with a twist.


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  1. This book looks great! Just read a book with my daughter that described a color as looks-like-he-might-faint-again gray. That’s my current fav 🙂

  2. Hej!
    Jag håller på att starta upp en Kreativ Studio i Kungsbacka där jag kommer att ha Arts & Crafts-kurser för barn o ungdom, keramikmålning, events, workshops mm. Jag kommer också ha “målarbokscafe” (som stickcafe fast målarböcker) och tänker att denna bok skulle vara ert perfekt komplement! Letar inspiration överallt och du är en väldigt bra källa!
    Kika gärna på!

  3. My favorite color is the red wine I will be sipping following your example and trying out this book one evening 🙂

  4. Inchworm Green! (It’s a Crayola crayon color.) 🙂 Followed closely by turquoise. They make me happy.

  5. Oh my lands…I must have this book! I admit, I’m a wee bit jealous of my little girl when she works in the doodle books I’ve given her…and sometimes I join her!

    My favorite color is green — all shades of it! I’ve been very fond of cobalt and navy blue these days, too!

  6. Petrol blue. That book looks amazing! Going straight on my Amazon wish list if I don’t get it here…

  7. This looks like a fantastic book! I color all the time, so I know how important it is to let your inner kid out to play. My favorite color is teal, followed by eggplant. Thanks for the chance to win!

  8. My favorite color is yellow. It brightens up everything. I’d love to color and play in the Pencil Playbook.

  9. I actually do not have a favorite color. Without color, our world would not be as vibrant. Each shade lends to the beauty we experience around us every day 🙂

  10. somewhere along the line my favorite colors became magenta and orange. alone i don’t care much for any of the two, but together…they make me smile. weird, right? i’ve entered the content! the artist (my 17 year old) in our family is feeling really blocked lately and I’m thinking maybe the exercises in the book will help her get back into the groove of drawing. thanks for the great giveaway!

  11. Congratulations first, for all the Creative imperium you share with us, other art thirsty and sensitive souls. my favourite color is indigo, by the way

  12. The full range of blues are a sight to behold-from everything to highlighting baby bird eggs to the deepest darkest waters of the world.

  13. Loved the idea behind this book so I’m hoping to win it! My favorite color is shocking pink or as Diana Vreeland once called it “the navy blue of India”.

  14. My favorite color is rainbow with sprinkles of black and white.
    I can’t draw but I love to doodle.

  15. Love your blog/newsletter. Never though that adult workbooks could be educational as well as creative! My favorite color is periwinkle! (all colors, but blue and purple are tied for first choice(s)!!! Thanks for sharing your passion for art and all things creative! 🙂

  16. My favorite color is Purple! A close second is Yellow and then Blue. However, purple has always been my favorite color and I even have a purple (grape) carpet in my bedroom from when I was in high school!

  17. Let’s be honest, my favorite color changes like a five year old’s, but currently, I love all things yellow.

  18. This looks like a very interesting workbook & I would love to win it. Your Sunday morning e-mail is always the first one that I read. Thanks for the info that you share & your wonderful humor.:)

  19. My favorite color is blue… but I love green too. So, there ya go… a primary and a secondary favorite…

  20. This Pencil Playbook looks like way more fun than an adult coloring book. If I don’t win I am heading over to Amazon! Grass green is my favorite color.

  21. Couldn’t get the post to work so here is my comment:

    My favorite color is somewhere in the blue family. My husband and I are recently retired and we’re learning how to paint (I do other crafts already) and I showed him this book……….this is something that would be a big help to us! It’s hard to know what to do sometimes when you’re sitting in front of a blank page just waiting for your paint…….!!

    I love all the things i learn and see on this website….thank you!
    Beverly Murphy

  22. My favourite colour is BLUE! I love all the different shades of Blue. From sky blue to starry night blue to sea blue to peacock blue to slushi blue ?

  23. My favorite color is what mybstudents call “mafuschia”. Sort of a combination of magenta and fuchsia!

  24. My favorite color is turquoise because it can’t decide whether it is more blue than green or more green than blue. And I can’t decide whether I like blue more than green or green more than blue.

  25. As my daughter puts it…. My favorite color is Rainbow. Mostly beause every color is great. I lean towards blue, but I love them all!

  26. Pink. Hot pink. Or Ballet-pointe-shoe pink. It’s either bright and deep and shocking or the softest, most ethereal, barely there shade of pink- no in between.

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