Colouring books are very trendy at the moment. It seems the grown-ups have finally realised what great fun colouring could be. It's also wonderfully therapeutic. My younger son loves colouring. It's one of his favourite pastimes, and he doesn't need to be asked twice. Most of the colouring books are just that - simply the images you colour in. But if you want more from your colouring books, here is a new range to discover - it's called The Color Zen. This collection introduces young children to art history.
The author of the series, Catherine de Duve, is an art historian and artist. The Color Zen collection is an inspired series of books, which help young children as well as their parents understand the basics of art history through colouring and little snippets of information about the artist.
The Little Vermeer (Happy Museum, ISBN 9782875750327) is a creative little book which allows you to look at the artist's works and "help" him to colour in the famous works of art.
Johannes Vermeer is a well-known artist. I suppose most people, even if they are not interested in art history, would know at least one of his paintings.
In his book The Story of Art E.H.Gombrich said: "Like a photographer who deliberately softens the strong contrasts of the picture without blurring the forms, Vermeer mellowed the outlines and yet retained the effect of solidity and firmness. It is this strange and unique combination of mellowness and precision which makes his best paintings so unforgettable. They make us see the quiet beauty of a simple scene with fresh eyes..."
The Little Vermeer gives a short biography of an artist. Did you know, for example, that he was a father of 15 children?
All the illustrations in the book are black and white. They are an invitation to colour in. You can be as creative as you like. Either look up the masterpieces to do the colouring, following Vermeer's palette or go wild with your own colours and interpretation.
You will find all the familiar masterpieces - The Little Street, The Lacemaker, The Milkmaid, The Astronomer, Girl with a Pearl Earring and more.
You'll be asked to design a blue-patterned Delft ceramic tile, draw the continents and oceans on the globe or draw a reflection in the mirror. Very inventive and educational.
This book made me think of my teaching days. Years ago I was a teacher of art history in a primary and secondary school. My kids loved similar tasks, and were brilliant at drawing and colouring. They are all grown-ups now. I do miss my teaching.
It also reminded me of my favourite colouring book when I was a child, it had illustrations of dancing couples, all dressed in historic costumes. How I loved that book. I treasured it. It inspired me to discover the history of fashion.
This lovely book costs £4.99 and will make a great gift for any child who loves colouring. Who knows, it might even inspire a life-long interest in art history?!
As for my little man, he has chosen a picture with an oriental rug to colour in first. It is still a work in progress, as you can see.