In a Mandala Mood

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When colouring books for adults became a thing a couple of years back, I was overjoyed. I love colouring in. I love the fact that I can still participate in a form of visual art without having to draw anything- since I absolutely suck at drawing. All I have to do is fill in a black and white page with texta marks. Such a simple process, and yet completely transformative, as a bright and vivid scene gradually emerges from nothingness. Colour is the light of imagination, and from it, ideas come alive.

The first adult colouring books I bought, back in 2015, contained beautifully detailed ink illustrations by Johanna Basford. The scenes in ‘Secret Garden’ and ‘Lost Ocean’ are incredibly intricate, and I would spend quite a bit of time thinking about the colour schemes I should use. Completing one of the pages required a lot of focus, patience, and dedication, but it was always an enjoyable activity, and the perfect way to relax after a long week of teaching.

There were certainly enough illustrations in these books to last me a few years at the rate I was going, but after my trip to Nepal in October 2016, I wanted a change. I’d seen hundreds of stunning mandala images in Kathmandu and Namche Bazaar, and when I arrived home, I went searching for a mandala colouring book. It took me a while, but when I came across Jim Gogarty’s book, I knew I’d found exactly what I was looking for.

I’ve finished about eleven of the 100 mandalas so far, and I love the creative freedom involved with bringing the abstract shapes and patterns to life. In my other colouring books, the colours I choose to zhuzh up a picture are influenced by the real life colours of the illustrated objects. With the mandalas, there’s no preconceptions. It’s more about ‘feeling’ the colours. This line feels like a blue, this circle feels like a red. And then, on the next page, a line might feel like an orange, and a circle might feel like a green. There’s no right or wrong answer. It’s creativity in its purest form.