I've been intrigued by the coloring books for adults craze that has swept the local art supply stores. The idea behind it is to use coloring as a form of creative relaxation.

There are many books to choose from, but I was drawn to the coloring books by Johanna Basford. She has an ocean themed book called Lost Ocean coming out later this month that looks particularly lovely. I've started with the Enchanted Forest, which is her second book. Hers are the coloring books I wish I'd had as a girl - beautiful, detailed fantasy illustrations, with a questing element.

I use water color pencils for painting faces on my dolls, so I was glad to discover that the book's pages are made from strong, thick paper that will hold up to being wet, so I can use them here too. I'm mostly using Mont Marte pencils because I bought a tin of 36 pencils on sale for less than $10 at Aldi a while ago, but they are rubbish for dolls (they are quite hard so they don't make much of a mark on resin, and the colors are very washed out even on paper). I mostly stick with Faber Castell watercolors for dolls now. I have also been using a handful of ADEL pencils that I picked up for a few cents each at Reverse Garbage, which go on much smoother and are richer in color than the Mont Martes.

I'm trying Derwent Inktense pencils for the first time, which work like watercolors (you color first and then wash over with a brush of water) but the ink is permanent, while with watercolor pencils you can re-wet or wash away with water. The Inktense pencils are very bright on paper, with a similar amount of 'pop' as markers. They are almost too intense to use in combination with the washed out Mont Marte watercolor pencils. I'll probably use Inktense for feature elements only. I'm yet to try them on dolls, but because they are permanent I would only use them on my 3D printed dolls (where I can print another face if I mess up).

There is something reassuring about the smell of the freshly sharpened pencils, bringing back childhood memories. Coloring is satisfying, however, I was a bit too much of a perfectionist about it as a child (e.g. I asked my primary school teachers to photocopy my favourite illustrations for me so I could do practice runs before coloring the final "good copy"). Despite trying to let go of that now, and experimenting with blending colors with the paintbrush, and even going outside of the lines a bit (gasp!), I'm not sure whether coloring will ever be a relaxing pastime for me.