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.
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?
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.
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.
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.