Posted in Art & Craft


So how do you get blisters from colouring? It’s not like I’m bricklaying, gardening or chopping wood now is it?

macro photo of color pencil tips
Photo by Pixabay on

Do you remember colouring as a kid? Did you help your kids learn? Do you colour now as an adult? A few years back the adult colouring books appeared as a way to help relieve stress. I was a little late to the party but then I was gifted 3 colouring books and pencils one Christmas. These books are not your average Disney princess pictures, nor are they teddy bears and farm animals. Instead they are complicated, eye-watering mandalas, birds of paradise and swirling abstract flowers. I’ve never been an artist. I can’t draw or paint, or even take a decent photo.  I went to an art class once and was told I was a control-freak. So colouring is my way of scratching that arty itch. Painting by numbers works in a similar way.

So how do you get blisters from colouring books? How soft and pathetic are my hands? Well I got them from sharpening dozen’s of pencils with a little hand held metal sharpener. The type you may have had in your school pencil case.

Sharpening colouring pencils made me smile. I remembered doing this as a kid and again with my own boys. I love the ribbons of coloured wood shavings all over the table. I started out categorising the pencils by colour, all neat and orderly, (who said control freak?) but there were too many in the end.

Do you remember the pencils whose leads were obviously broken inside, the tips falling out just as you got to the perfect point, and you’d have to start all over again? It would happen again and again until you had to make the decision to throw the pencil out or just keep going until you got past the break.

Pencil pictures

As an adult colourer, I persevered past the point where I would have usually given up. Maybe I knew there was a chance that not all of the lead was broken. Perhaps I can no longer stand to waste anything, every pencil should be given a chance to reach it’s full potential. Maybe I’m more stubborn and determined now and no pencil was getting away from me. I will not be beaten. Or perhaps it was more to do with the glass of wine that fogged my brain, and whilst watching Miranda, I took my eye off the ball and just kept going, oblivious. I’m sure there’s a metaphor for life on there somewhere.

Either way I ended up with a big box of perfectly pointed pencils filling an old biscuit tin and ready to go. I pulled out a book, picked a picture to colour and got stuck in. That’s when I realised that pencils are rubbish. And now it’s just dawned on me. Perhaps the whole stress therapy logic behind the colouring is also to do with sitting still and being patient. Yeah, I’m not a patient person. Felt pens are definitely the way to go.

Maybe rubbish is too strong a word. I have pictures that I’ve coloured in pencil and others in pen, some with a mix of both. I like them all. It’s the difference between watercolours and oil paintings I guess. They’re just different. But I like vivid colour. The pencils were too wishy-washy. To be able to see these amazing designs in all their glory they needed more punch. I couldn’t get that with pencils. Felt-tipped-pens, may not be as romantic, but they give much better instant gratification. There was no scrubbing to cover the page. One flick of the nib and the colour was there, bright and shiny and perfect.

Felt-tipped pen pictures

Okay, not quite perfect. It seems I lost the ability to keep within the lines. It turned out I needed reading glasses, but now I can get back to colouring in pen and create brilliantly bright pictures all over again.

The pencil tin is gathering dust under my desk somewhere and all those blisters were for nothing.


1 husband, 3 kids, 2 step-kids, 2 dogs, 1 cat, one business, 1 milion things going through my head at any one time and one dream - to write. Love - the writings of Patrick Rothfuss and Jane Austen, the poetry of Keats and Wilfred Owen, the art of Jack Vettriano and Zdzislaw Beksinski, sunflowers and sunsets, Eeyore and Channing Tatum, the sea, Pembrokeshire and contradictions. Hate - confrontation, waste, procrastination (despite being champion at it), horror movies and loneliness.

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