Drawings · Geometric Drawings · Uncategorized

Coloring Books and me

Scaling Shapes, Visons of the Universe by Alex Bellos & Edmund Harriss
Scaling Shapes, designed by Professor Chaim Goodman- Strauss, Visions of the Universe by Alex Bellos & Edmund Harriss

I’ve always loved coloring books. Is this true for every kid? I really don’t know. Are coloring books for kids even around much anymore?

When the coloring books for adults became all the rage a few years ago, it made perfect sense to me, although most of the titles on the market didn’t interest me much. I like sense an underlying  rigorous structure, but one that is not simply symmetrical. Naturally, then, I fell in love with the books by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harris.

Patterns of the Universe and Visions of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss
Patterns of the Universe and Visions of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss, published by The Experiment

In the interest of full disclosure, I have not been asked to write this post by anyone connected to these books. In fact, the reason I am writing this now is because I am working on something else that won’t be ready to write about for awhile, so I thought that, with the holiday season upon us, the colorfulness of writing about these books seems timely.

Cascading Waves, Read the Sines, Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss
Cascading Waves, Read the Sines, Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss

I love these books for all the same reasons that I’ve always loved coloring books. They let me mess around with color without having to think too much about form. Just experimenting with color combinations without thinking about much else is a great thing for me to do when I’m wanting to make something but not feeling particularly ambitious. I think this cascading waves is my favorite of all the pages. If the authors happen to be reading this, please make more versions of this one for me, please.

Polyhedra, Cascading Waves, Read the Sines, Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss
Polyhedra, Cascading Waves, Read the Sines, Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss

I do not recommend using crayons in these books. The image above in started as crayon only, but it didn’t have a look that I liked until I added those crackly lines made with markers. Crayons are amazing when used on paper that is a bit rough, just like the newsprint paper in traditional coloring books, but seems to me that they aren’t well suited for the smooth papers of adult coloring books.

Modular Forms, Visions of the Universe by Alexs Bellos & Edmund Harriss
Modular Forms, Visions of the Universe by Alexs Bellos & Edmund Harriss

Colored pencils work well on these pages, but be advised that not all colored pencils are created equal. The best value for colored pencils are the Crayola brand, but Prismacolor Colored Pencils are just about the only upgrade that makes sense. If I’m using colored pencils on these pages, it’s Prismacolor that I’m using. However, If I am making drawings of my own, using my own designs, I generally use my absolute favorite colored pencils, made by Caran D’Ache.

Petit Fourier 1, Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss
Petit Fourier 1, Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss

Sometimes mixing up the Prismacolors with markers works out best. This page above, which references color bands used by Georgia O’Keefe in one of her paintings, was done with both Prismacolors and brush markers (an expensive Japanese brand, SAI).

Read the Sines, Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss
Read the Sines, Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss

I love the way Sharpies look on these pages. Yes, they bleed through like crazy, so I always put a protective piece under the page that I am working on. Otherwise, I don’t care that they bleed through the page. The publishers of these books were kind enough to keep the verso side of the spread mostly blank, so I don’t lose anything that I’m not willing to lose in the interest of using exactly the materials that I want to use.

The Collatz Conjecture, Visions of the Universe by Alexs Bellos & Edmund Harriss
The Collatz Conjecture, Visions of the Universe by Alexs Bellos & Edmund Harriss

My favorite pages, so far, are one that are not full of tiny, tiny details, like the one above, These tiny details require more attention than is comfortable for me.

The Kolakoski Sequence, The Collatz Conjecture, Visions of the Universe by Alexs Bellos & Edmund Harriss
The Kolakoski Sequence, Visions of the Universe by Alexs Bellos & Edmund Harriss

This Kolakoski Sequence has just about the right balance for me of detail and broad areas of color. I’m generally more interested in the description of the form after I’ve colored it, but in this case it was already obscured by the bleed through from the previous image. Oh, well, I still have the internet.

Mechanical Curves, Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss
Mechanical Curves, Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss

Here’s another one done with both markers and pencils. I didn’t find this uncolored page very compelling, so I challenged myself to use color to make it more interesting to me.

detail Mechanical Curves, Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss
detail Mechanical Curves, Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss

I was pretty happy wit the way this one turned out.

Dodecapliex, Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss
Dodecaplex, Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss

The thing I like the most about these books is that I can pick them up and put them down with impunity. I don’t have to remember what I was thinking about or where to start. During the years of raising children and never having any extended amounts of time to work on anything, it still makes me feel happy to have something to do that doesn’t suffer from interruptions.

Spiral Tile,Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss
Spiral Tile,Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss

This spiral is the first one I did in these books. Took quite a few sitting before I considered to be finished, but that’s fine.

Co-Prime Numbers, Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss
Co-Prime Numbers, Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss

Here I got to play with trying to create a illusion that these circles were not in a precisely straight line. Sadly, in this photo that illusion seems to be mostly lost, but on the page they do look wiggly.

Graph Theory, Visions of the Universe by Alexs Bellos & Edmund Harriss
Graph Theory, Visions of the Universe by Alexs Bellos & Edmund Harriss

Not all drawings that I do come out great. Some come out well but don’t photograph well, like this one, which I love, but doesn’t seem to like the camera much. Sharpies love the camera.

Those funny shapes to the right of the page are called Sphericons. They are peculiar, funny, and I will making some to give away and some to hang on our tree. They are pesky to try to make out of paper, hence it will be many more days before they get a post of their own. But am happy to have finally made a post about my favorite coloring books.

OH, and if the editors or authors are taking requests, how about a coloring book along the same themes as these, made for kids and printed like old-fashioned coloring books, on newsprint, so that crayons would be the preferred medium? A mathy coloring book for kids, with large, not-particularly detailed patterns sounds like a great idea to me.

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Coloring Books and me

  1. Paula – I think you should design some mathy coloring books for kids!! Also, since I really don’t use colored pencils much, I’m curious as to the real differences between the brands you mentioned. Care to elaborate a little?

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