I love children’s drawings. I love the scrawlyness. I love the complete lack of scale. I love the way that tiny little drawings inhabit great big pieces of paper. Then comes the day when some clever dick comes along and tries to teach children to draw properly. And that’s when it all goes wrong. In my experience there was always a couple of children (whose parents were usually art teachers or creatives themselves) who could draw in a way that would meet the teacher’s approval and the rest… Well… they would often end up drifting into the “I can’t draw” category via years of trying to reproduce some proscribed view of the world. I think the childhood Chris hit the reality of the world with a bump in nursery school where my overly long drawing of a person was thwarted by the lady in charge refusing to add an extra sheet of paper to the bottom of my picture so that I could complete it. I would like to think things have changed now, and that creativity and individual thinking is encouraged on all levels in modern teaching but the cynic in me doesn’t see anything to prove that view. The idea of doing colouring-in books was not really mine. In fact, it seems that I had already made one and no one had told me. It turned out that my booklet of pen and ink illustrations from Alice in Wonderland were being bought to colour in. I must admit, that when I first heard this I was a little bit miffed, it took me rather a long time and a lot of work to produce those images and the prima donna in me stamped it’s little feet for a few moments before thinking “I can do something better with this” To be fair, I had set a precedence for this already with the coloured in prints of St Leonards local, the jingly bell stick man prints which painted, cross hatched and overdrew into original artworks. So who was I to complain when other people did the same? I figured I’d start locally with some scenes from St Leonards, reworking a few elements from my paintings plus adding plenty of new stuff. I have been meaning to return to doing something about St Leonards to document a rather depressing trend that I have noticed regarding here and Hastings. I had already touched on the disparity between the underclass of St Leonards and the new wave of ultra trendy down from londoners who lived alongside them, each seemingly oblivious of the other’s existence. In the two years since those paintings, the situation has become even more polarised. Before I carry on I have to make a disclaimer, I am myself a D.F.L (down from Londoner) I was drawn here by the sea, the presence of which does me more good on a daily basis than the antidepressants I have to take, and by (what were at the time) relatively low living costs. The fact that most creative types are poorly valued and subsequently paid means that by necessity this part of the coast has become a haven for musicians, artists and writers over the years and because of that there is always something interesting going on. Sadly, this perceived ‘coolness’, for want of a better word, has started to change the area for the worse. Junk shops are now antique shops, quaint little businesses that have been here since forever are shutting shop and are being replaced by a plethora of estate agents and shops selling vintage good and architectural salvage that is either falling apart or is straight out of a factory on the other side of the world and every cafe that used to be somewhere you could have a catch up and a gossip is now at weekends a no go area posey hang out for people with weekend homes, forcing the prices up and forcing out the very people who made this place what so attracts them in the first place. I am reminded of an old Asterix the Gaul book from my childhood called Asterix and the Mansion of the Gods where the Romans seek to invade via gentrification rather than the usual legions of soldiers. Whilst I will be the first to acknowledge the hypocrisy of what I’m saying as a dfl( technically via Doncaster (DFLVD?)), I would like to think that I have added to the weird and wonderful nature of the town as it was rather than trying to turn it into Shoreditch by the sea as seems to be happening right now. O.K rant over. Anyway, I wanted to capture a little of this in my first proper colouring in book but also made something that was really good fun. Plus I wanted to make sure that it was printed on really good quality paper so that it wasn’t just something you could do with a pencil, I wanted it to withstand paint and felt tip pens to a certain degree so that it frees up whoever is using it as much as possible. I have so many frustrating memories as a child of cheap yellow paper that a sharp pencil or a damp felt tip would go straight through. So once I did the St Leonards book and that started selling, I instantly started on a Hastings one. There is something really satisfying about making a colouring book and I feel that making something locally themed will be engaging for anyone using it, particularly children. I have just produced a third book with scenes of Brighton, that was a bit trickier as having only a passing knowledge of the city I had to rely on friends to inform me of the more obscure landmarks. I am currently putting the finishing touches on an Eastbourne book. If they keep selling them maybe I’ll keep going and do the rest of the south east. Who knows where it will stop? If you want one, you can buy them here, just remember, It’s o.k to colour outside the lines.
It’s ok to colour outside the lines.