Colouring helps alleviate adult stress

Samantha Bernhardi of Bergvliet with mum Colleen Welsh of Diep River, deep in concentration.

It’s addictive and should come with a warning says Sam Dreyer of the craze which has swept the world, colouring for adults.

Sam was hosting a colouring workshop in a converted farmhouse at Evergreen retirement village in Bergvliet.

Heads down, for the three-hour workshop, women busily coloured in mandalas designed by this Sea Point businesswoman. The blank designs might look relatively simple, but amazingly everyone came up with a different result.

Jewel-like stained glass windows in bright colours or softly shaded pastels, some had gone over the lines, “it doesn’t matter,” laughed Gill Blackman from Diep River.

Others said that with colouring in they don’t have to prove that they are a good artist. “And you can’t do it wrong. Just be. If you’re looking for perfection this is a disaster,” laughed Yolanda Bond-Smith.

“If you go over the lines, which we do, it doesn’t matter,” added Sheila Hunt.

The first exercise involved picking four markers blindly from a bag. “Colouring is connected with mindfulness and this exercise teaches us how to deal with what life throws us and how we respond,” says Sam.

For their second mandala, they learned how to begin with koki, then shade with pencil crayons to create depth.

Other interesting lessons in the workshop included how to fix mistakes and how to adapt – in colouring and in life.

Later, Sam revealed that she discovered adult colouring in by mistake. “It was 2010, the World Cup, I was at a stage in my life when I needed some time out and headed to India for a month. I needed to choose between following my heart or studying for a doctorate. I followed my heart and soul.”

In India she found a colouring book and as a self-confessed stationery collector, saying she has a black-belt in stationery shopping, she never realised that her new found passion would become a second business venture. Her first was running a strategic eventing company for over 15 years.

“The vibrant and colourful assault on my senses while visiting India somehow allowed me to discover my creativity,” says Sam.

“I’ve never been artistic, but I found a mandala (Sanskrit for circles) colouring book, bought some pencil crayons and before long I was transported to a peaceful, calm, stress free yet creative space. Never in my wildest dreams did I envisage that this would become a passion and I’d produce my own colouring book and start an online colouring business.”

Getting caught up in the world of colouring, Sam connected with fellow colourists around the world. Flicking through her phone she showed an endless list of colouring groups, one with 44 366 members and counting.

“We’re slow in South Africa to catch on but this colouring phenomenon is growing rapidly. In fact there are over 3 000 adult colouring books listed on Amazon with five being their top 10 sellers. And pencil suppliers are reporting stock shortages.”

Production of Mandala Mojo, by ‘Samdala’, began late last year and was finally available early this year. “It’s a collection of 40 hand-drawn mandalas, one per perforated page, on paper I selected to allow for colouring in either pencil crayon, fineliners or thick kokis,” says Sam.

As a support for colourists, Sam started the Crazy about Colouring Facebook page where local and international followers share their work and ideas.

She has also conducted two live interactive tutorials in association with Canadian artist, Bennett Klein. She regularly hosts free colouring workshops and has produced a series of 11 online video tutorials available on YouTube.

“The best thing about colouring is that you become completely absorbed and forget about time. In the past three years my passion for colouring has grown and a day doesn’t go by without me picking up crayons and colouring,” says Sam.

“It’s such a great activity that can be done alone or with a group of friends and it’s a great way to relax and relieve stress,” said Sam.

In December Sam revisited India, this time armed with art supplies, and was fascinating to see how colouring broke down language barriers. Wherever she went fellow travellers joined her in colouring, with age and gender not being a factor.

“I think that’s one of the main reasons I’m hooked, it transports you away for the daily grind while allowing you to find your creative side.”

Colouring tips from Sam Dreyer, aka Samdala:

* Sharpen, sharpen, sharpen those pencils, as sharp pencils colour better;

* Invest in good quality sharpeners;

* Not sure where to start, try selecting a palette of four or five colours that compliment and blend with each other; and

* Remember white is also a colour so leaving some white space often helps your picture “breathe”.

“Every picture is an expression of you, there is no right or wrong.

“The most important thing is that you have fun and enjoy yourself,” says Sam.