A quintessential memory reminiscent of our childhood--we have all had days that passed by as we scribbled across colouring books, completely ignorant of the shapes that were supposed to be coloured into. Seems like those days are not over yet though because if the denim-on-denim trend has proved anything, it’s that everything makes a comeback. But few have been quite as satisfying as the return of the colouring book into our adult lives. Having quickly placed themselves onto the bestseller shelves in bookstores, some are calling it a viral trend, while others claim it to be extremely therapeutic. Complied with delicate details that make the drawings seem almost real, the crux is clear--they’ve been around since forever and they’re here to stay even if their target audience keeps evolving. So far, however, the nature/ philosophy and pop culture-inspired colouring books for adults have been trickling in from other parts of the world.
Closer to home, Mumbai-based artist created a colouring book that is truly one of a kind. Giving the book a poetic twist, Sujaya Batra was inspired by the verses of Kahli Gibran, which she decided to convert into gel pen drawings. These drawings soon piled up and were converted into a colouring book by the artist herself. Batra who used the extremely philosophical dense text of ‘The Prophet’ as her primary source explains that the text was stuck in a deep chord of her heart when she first read it as a sixteen-year-old.
“Countless are the occasions when I have turned to ‘The Prophet’ when I needed answers to difficult situations, or just needed the soothing balm of his simple philosophy,” explains the artist. The concept of the coloring book doesn’t end right at the verses, but is a merger between the visual imagery developed by Gibran’s poetry and Batra’s interest in philosophy. She explains to Homegrown, “My interest in Chinese, Buddhist and Zen philosophy provides me with subject matter for my drawings. Their art full of beautiful imagery from nature, and is very symbolic.”
The images she uses in her drawings are of flowers, animals, birds, clouds, dragons and they all have a specific, symbolic meaning. For example, if a line from The Prophet centers around the discovery of the soul, she uses a crane or an eagle (soul) soaring towards the sun (God, The Infinite).
With the balance of black and white or line and space in her drawings, Batra directly connects to the yin and yang philosophy. She believes her coloring book to be a form of meditation as the drawing come with ‘Zen-like quality’ and is a perfect tool for the youth. She adds, “Today’s young adults find themselves in a world that is fast-paced, competitive and ever-changing with mercurial swiftness. These young adults will be able to decompress through colouring my drawings and also introspect as they do it.” Whether that’s true or not remains to be seen but if you’re interested in giving it a shot, just order yourself a copy of the book here.
Words: Karan Kaul