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Mindful Colouring: it works!



circles Mandala with watercolour crayons (used both dry and painted-out with brush)

In the last few months I’ve been facilitating a few ‘creativity table’ sessions (including at September’s LiVE monthly meeting) where folk are sat down to engage in doodling and colouring-in; sometimes that’s been a return to an activity that many haven’t indulged since being at primary school, or whiling away time in a slow-paced class in secondary school…

‘Anti-stress colouring’ has become big business: big name stationers stock many styles of adult colouring books (and this has now expanded to adult dot-to-dot books too!)  Sometimes I can feel a bit skeptical about the ‘big-consumerism’ nature of this, but I am glad to accept that folk are wanting these books because they are finding that colouring-in is a successful de-stressing, ‘mindful’ activity. (Here ‘mindful’ means a quieter, less chattering mind: focussed on one activity and purpose in the moment.)

Just as the doctor’s and dentist’s surgery (for instance) have crayons, pens and paper for young children, in order to pacify and engage their youthful, hyperactive energy, so these same tools  can work to pacify and engage the adult mind with its active ‘grown-up’ stresses…

Enough of theory.  I just want to recommend doodling and colouring as useful, ‘creative meditation’ activities that can help to quiet an anxious – or hyper, or stressed – mind with a pleasurable activity.

Here are a few tips and examples of what you can try – with or without the use of shop-bought colouring books (which can be a bit daunting in their sheer quantity and intricacy of designs.)

It’s ok to keep it simple:  Use as many or as few colours as you like – or just black and grey – with felt tip pens or lead/graphite pencils.


black fineliner and 2 greys fine felt tip pens (on squared paper)


Try different colouring ‘tools’: fine or brush felt tip pens; regular or water colour crayons; fluorescents  and metallics pens; back-to-school wax crayons…

Colour-in your own doodle shapes & designs: Done a doodle on a pad while talking on the phone or listening to a lecture? Turn it into a colour-filled artwork later on…


strong-colour permanent ink marker pens


‘Break the rules’: Not everyone can manage to colour inside the lines, so why not deliberately choose to colour-in ‘short of’ – or  outside –  the lines? (see blurred edges of watercolour crayons Mandala image above)

Use ruled, squared and graph paper:  for repetitive, kaleidoscopic design creations – over and over, if wanted!


fineliner black and fine felt tip pens (inc fluorescent yellow)


Cafe colouring: Take a few crayons or felt tips and a design – or blank  paper – out to a cafe to colour-in on your own, or do this with friends together.

This works well as a self-structured activity if you are someone (like myself) who finds socialising a challenge.

Don’t be overwhelmed: only colour-in parts of a design; often ‘less is more’.


brush tip pens on design by Dominika Lipniewska (mounted on recycled card with glue stick)


Ergonomic tip: Look after your neck and back; if you can, have your doodling/colouring paper resting on a stiff folder, magazine or book that is leant up against a table edge, from your lap, at an angle so that your neck remains fairly upright too when you are creating (think artist’s easel or architect’s design table).



2 responses to “Mindful Colouring: it works!”

  1. Luc says:

    Tips for buying books or art materials: I recommend WHSmith or The Works for economy-prices but good quality. WHS has good bargains at this time, the start of a new school/college year. Avoid pound shop materials as they are often poor quality & that can be frustrating. Have fun shopping too! Luc

  2. Juliet says:

    Many thanks Luc – really enjoyed the session and look forwards to doing some more soon!

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