TV exec turned adult colouring illustrator
By Elizabeth Doherty
IT became one of the biggest new crazes last year – adult colouring books – and now a former BBC boss tells how she ditched TV to colour her life with a new passion.
Jessica Palmer was living a high-powered media lifestyle as a BBC producer up until 2006 – when she decided to follow the dream of her youth, to become an illustrator.
She ended up becoming the hands behind the beautiful intricate drawings showcases for adult colouring books, Tangle Wood, and the soon-to-be-published Tangle Bay.
I made up my mind to try to find out whether I could rediscover my original plan for my life – to become an illustrator, Jessica said.
“I got voluntary redundancy and went to do an MA in Illustration.
“It then took me about seven to right years to develop my drawing skills, develop a style, and then begin to find out what I was good at.
“I tried many things. I did a lot of art workshops in museums and galleries.
“I always longed to be drawing. In my workshops, I got to see how much pleasure people took from ‘flow activity’.”
The term is something that is key to the art of colouring.
Adults who colour, or participate in other artistic endeavours such as painting or drawing, are tapping in to the ultimate form of relaxation.
Many believe a child-like state only achieved by switching off completely from the surrounding world, is the best way to escape every day stresses.
“You lose all sense of time passing. You get completely absorbed in your work,” Jessica said.
When children do it, we call it play. Adults seek ways to experience this.
“They also want outlets for creativity but may lack confidence in taking that first step with a blank sheet of paper.
“My illustrations are a starting point. I leave space for them to extend the drawing, or simply to add colour.
“I try to give the colourists opportunities to do something complex or with less pattern.”
I don’t miss the media. I miss friends I made there but they are still friends. I have never really looked back. My head used to be full of anxiety. Now it’s full of ideas.
It seems interesting that adults who use colouring books – once only accepted as a child’s hobby – could now be referred to as ‘colourists’.
The very notion to many adults in society would still seem rather bizarre.
But after all, for years, haven’t we tried to escape the adult world of bills, stress, long working hours and daily life demands.
In the 80s the stress ball was a quirky phenomenon of the career man or woman and in the 90s yoga started to really take off.
In Ireland and the UK morning raves before work are now a new craze.
Each activity encourages the user to switch off, to come back to a sense of serenity.
It seems though she went from a highly successful and to many, an enviable position in a major broadcaster, only when Jessica left to pursue her original dream, did she find her true calling.
In my new book, Tangle Bay, coming out next month, there’s lots of humour and a sense of place – just as I also tried to provide in Tangle Wood.
“I proposed Tangle Wood to my publisher Search Press, for whom I had just completed my first book, The Art of Papercutting, in April 2015.
“I submitted 75 drawings at the end of May.
“Tangle Wood was printed and published by August 2015.
“I then drew 75 more drawings for Tangle Bay in October and November and it was printed in December and is now just about to go into shops in February 2016.
“These colouring books came about quite quickly.”
Jessica’s love for illustration and respect for adult colouring – which has now become an art form – makes for an inspirational story.
But she isn’t the only one who has found colouring to be a passion.
Adult colouring books became one of the most bought items of 2015.
And groups of devoted colouring fanatics have sprouted up across the world.
It seems as life becomes more stressful, many of us are harking back to the innocence and escapism we felt as children.
One thing is for sure, anything that relaxes us, is only a good thing.
For more on Jessica and her books, take a look at her website http://www.jessicapalmerart.com
Read on Wednesday for the women who love to colour.