This Sept. 2014 story was
sponsored by Rockport Publishers
Artist and illustrator Jenn Ski is a longtime friend of the blog, and now this creative dynamo has a new project in the market: three mid-century modern coloring books — “a series of grown-up coloring books for art and design lovers.” Published by Rockport Publishers, the “Just Add Color” coloring books include Mid-Century Modern Mania, Mid-Century Modern Animals and Mid-Century Modern Patterns.
Jenn Ski and her publishing company are looking to get the word out about these fun new books, so they made a little advertising and sponsored post deal with us — then sent us review copies to check out. This is only the second sponsored post we’ve ever done — and we’re quite happy that it worked out, because we have quite a soft spot for Jenn Ski — the first person ever to link to Retro Renovation. So what are these coloring books like? As soon as my set arrived via UPS, I got out my colored pencils to take a test drive.
“Who doesn’t love to color?” it says on the back of each book. Angela Corpus, marketing manager for Rockport Publishers, hopes that the answer to that question is, “No one.” Angela tells us that there is an emerging market in designer coloring books — like these — that are specifically targeted at adults. But why would adults want coloring books? The answer is simple — to recapture a bit of their youth and spend some time in calming, self-guided “art therapy.” In fact, Angela told Pam that the growing trend in adult coloring books comes out of the art therapy world.
Whether you are the type that likes to stay in the lines or not, the act of coloring itself can be cathartic and relaxing — and it is even better when the subject matter piques your interest. Like: Mid-century modern!
After paging through all three of the books, I immediately had a favorite. Don’t get me wrong, all three of the coloring books were filled with fabulous designs, but the one that ultimately made me want to break out the colored pencils and start coloring was Mid-Century Modern Mania.
For someone who absolutely loves mid-century home decor, Mid-Century Modern Mania was like giving me free reign to ‘decorate’ my own little world. There are three types of illustrations in this 30-page coloring book: Overall room scenes, vignettes of rooms, and close-ups of decor items — like light fixtures, kitchen utensils and houseplants — that are like patterns in themselves.
The only thing I didn’t like was having to choose just one page to start with.
I ultimately chose an overall room scene to test. I decided to use my colored pencil set — leftover from art school — to get started. I recommend choosing a coloring medium with both fine and wide tip coloring abilities. Some of the designs are quite involved, making a fine tip or a sharp point necessary if you want to stay in the lines. Wider tips make coloring ‘wallpaper’ and ‘carpeting’ easier and faster. I needed to keep a pencil sharpener nearby to maintain a sharp point when coloring some of the smaller details.
I took my time selecting colors and carefully filling in each shape during my first art therapy session and the whole, leisurely process took me about an hour and 40 minutes to complete. Some of the less involved pages could likely be completed in half an hour. I’d like to try coloring my next page with markers for an even bolder, more saturated and colorful look.
At one point during my art therapy session, my husband Jim — who usually is uninterested in this sort of thing — wanted to join in the fun after he saw a page with a simple design of a fondue pot. Guess what we’re doing tomorrow night? Couples coloring! Alas, right now Pam has a broken right arm and since she’s right handed, she won’t be able to test her kindergarten coloring skills for another eight weeks or so.
The paper used in these books is nice and thick — and will stand up to the juiciest markers. Also of note — the coloring books are smartly sized so that favorite finished pieces can be popped into a standard 8×10 frame and proudly displayed as art. Each page is also perforated for easy removal — in case you want to display your finished drawings on the fridge or the frame them. Personally, I found it easier to remove the page prior to coloring.
If you are worried about your fine motor skills and staying in the lines, each of the three books gives plenty of room to practice, with variations between large, easy to color shapes…
And more intensive patterns that will challenge even the accomplished colorer. Many of the patterns you can color in the Mid-Century Modern Patterns book are near replicas of Jenn Ski’s art prints.
The Mid-Century Modern Animals book is filled with whimsical, retro favorites like the owl above…
And this page filled with groovy butterflies and mushrooms that is just screaming for a lime green, yellow and bittersweet orange coloring scheme.
While I was coloring, I kept thinking about what a great party activity this would be for a small group. Everyone could pick a page from the book, sip a cocktail, munch on snacks, catch up with each other and color to their heart’s content — then take home their drawing to proudly place on the fridge as a reminder of a fun evening spent with friends. Any one of these books — along with a set of fine point markers or colored pencils — would also be a fantastic holiday gift.
Where to buy these coloring books:
You can purchase these coloring books individually through Rockport Publishers’ corporate site.
Nicely done, Jenn Ski and Rockport Publishers — we hope you sell lots!