Dessine-moi un mouton
In the best possible way, it feels like my whole life has been about encouraging other people to find their creative outlets.
Ever since I started drawing, as far back as I can remember, people would ask me to draw things for them. Just like the narrator in Le Petit Prince, when asked to draw a sheep, at first I did exactly what I thought they wanted, but gradually learnt that what people really need is a prompt for their imagination.
âI remember at primary school, other kids would sneak over and ask me to help them draw whatever we were set to do - I learnt quickly to give them something that they could complete themselves, rather than to do the whole thing for them, because
âI have always been the oldest kid in my family - the eldest sibling, the eldest cousin - so I was also generally the one who came up with the things to do - creating workbooks to teach my sibling French when we moved to Belgium, or treasure hunts to keep the kids busy at our family holiday home at the Rakaia River mouth in Canterbury. I still do that as an adult - here's a project from a few years ago at a family reunion, where the kids and I labelled parts of the property and then I got them photocopied and we all coloured them in.
As I grew older, I heard more and more people telling me that they "just can't do creative stuff", which made me so sad.
I often think about those kids in my class, who would sometimes get impatient when I wouldn't just do their work for them, but who were so happy with the finished pieces that they had made from the starting points that I gave them.
âComing up with gateways to creativity has always been something I enjoyed doing, so I thought - why not try my hand at selling my creations in kitset formats? It's not like I haven't done it before!
Many of you may know that I used to sell my wares as "Phersu Dancing Jewellery and Treasures", which became Phersu Dancing Designs. You can read more about that story here.
âAs I was finishing my beading phase and moving into making glass cabochon jewellery, I offered classes, workshops, and earring-making kits, which were quite popular as stocking stuffers. I later packaged the remaining beads up as my Surprise Supplies.
Copper Catkin colourables
Once I had reincarnated myself as Copper Catkin, I really leaned into my "ligne claire" style, which obviously lends itself really well to being coloured in - it is, after all, what I do with all of my designs, so why wouldn't anyone else enjoy it? So I started taking my drawings and turning them into something colourable - patches and colour-cut-and-sew cushions came first.
When both of these were reasonably successful, I began planning colouring books - but I would have to make quite a few changes to my existing designs in order to make them suitable for a colouring book format, so it made the most sense to use my next big series of designs for the first book, while I worked in the background to reconfigure my other designs to suit.
I decided that it would be fun to ask my Facebook page followers to supply me with some models for my next series of drawings, so after some discussion, I decided that drawing people's pet dogs would be fun - and it would be a cool celebration of Woolfenoot, too! It was remarkably successful - I got more photos than I could possibly draw! I drew the first 50, and had to call it there.
I used a combination of tracing, to make sure that I had the features in the correct position, and freehand portraiture to add the feeling of the dogs' personalities - copying exactly from a photo can be very difficult, especially when you work with thick, black lines - think about all those terrible tattoo portrait failures that they love to show us on reality TV shows - so the art of it lies in choosing which lines to use, and which lines to omit.
Of course, I made the design into fabrics and accessories, so they are available on Spoonflower and Redbubble.
It was so exciting when my first box of colouring books arrived! Of course I had to do my own awkward version of an unboxing.
I invite you to join me for a flick through the book below.
Of course, once the DOGS colouring book was done, I had to follow it up with CATS. I asked the team from Outpawed along to the Petone Winter Markets, where they agreed to provide food in the form of a bake sale in exchange for a fundraising opportunity, so it made sense to draw cats for the posters.
To help publicise the event and raise more funds, we also used the posters as a colouring competition, so I knew that they worked well as colourables.
Read more about my "cats" design here.
The cats from the 2018 posters also went into the book. Here they all are in full colour:
I had also done a few extra designs as options for the market themes, so they were included in the colouring book as special bonuses.
Come and have a tour of that book with me in this video!
The next four books
My other books came all in a big rush - I had been gathering and editing the images for some time, and so they were all ready to order together. I now had a range of six different colouring books, all ready in time for the Omaka Airshow.
Speaking of Omaka, their "Women in Aviation" theme was the main driver behind this series of designs. I had actually already started to consider it, but when the theme was released, I knew that it was time to revisit and refresh my original "aviatrix" designs.
You can read more about this design in my aviatrices post, too, if you want some more background.
My "ROSES" book was made at the request of several people who asked for roses, and using my photos from our trip to Portland, Oregon, the "City of Roses".
This design is also available as fabric, earrings, and scarves, too.
The FLORA and NGA MANU collections pull together some of my most popular drawings ever - and there is some crossover, as many people only want to buy one colouring book. The good thing about a bit of crossover, too, is that families with several children can have some images in common, while still getting their own designs to colour in, too.
Named for my maternal grandmother, and filled with the top choices from my back catalogue of plants and trees, this is a great collection for meditative colouring, with complicated repeats and simpler motifs to give a range of choices, depending on how much time and commitment you have.
âAt our place, we are surrounded by native bush and native birds, so it makes sense that they both show up a lot in my designs.
In the process of researching the possible names for the book, I also discovered that the meaning of "manu" is actually broader than I thought, too, so I added a few other things that fly.
Of course, as mentioned above, these designs combine both birds and plants, so versions of some of them can be found in both "FLORA" and "NGA MANU".
You can go and watch videos of my colouring books on YouTube, here:
You can buy my colouring books from my Etsy store, here: