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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Colouring in the Midst of Madness: An interview with Lucy Fyles

An interview with leading UK based colouring book reviewer Lucy Fyles, who has used colouring as a method to deal with her anxiety.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Tangle Bay - Lucy Fyles
Tangle Bay – Lucy Fyles

Colouring Book reviewer Lucy Fyles was one of the first reviewers I discovered when I went hunting for people to write about Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion. Lucy struggles with extreme anxiety and writes her wonderfully astute reviews based on her use of colouring to calm herself down. You can read Lucy’s review of my book here, and there are links to some of her other book reviews under each of her coloured examples below. I caught up with Lucy to find out more about why colouring books have become so important in her life…

Lucy Fyles Desk
You are very open about your struggles with anxiety, how have things changed since you discovered adult colouring?
On a day to day basis my condition is easier to manage. It hasn’t improved, unfortunately colouring isn’t a miracle cure, but my daily levels of anxiety are usually lower and more manageable thanks to colouring and if I notice a panic attack coming on early enough I can sometimes prevent one by focusing on colouring and breathing rather than the panic taking hold. I’m also much busier now thanks to reviewing over 100 books so I have a lot less spare time and time to worry, though it does bring a new set of worries with trying to impress publishers, accurately describe books, keep up with all of the latest colouring news etc.

Secret Garden Artist's Edition - Lucy Fyles
Secret Garden Artist’s Edition – Lucy Fyles

Since starting Colouring in the Midst of Madness have you heard from many other people that have been helped by colouring? What kind of stories do they have?
Yes, I’ve heard from so many people who it’s helping. A lot of them have similar stories to me and are suffering from physical or mental (or both) health problems and are finding that colouring is helping them cope, and helping them escape. People have told me they’re using less pain medication, feeling calmer, feeling their mood lift, improving their concentration, and it’s also giving them a wider community to be part of.

Tangle Wood - Lucy Fyles
Tangle Wood – Lucy Fyles

Secret Garden 2016 Calendar - Lucy Fyles
Secret Garden 2016 Calendar – Lucy Fyles

You have said you also like to bake and crochet – how do you juggle all your hobbies? 
Very badly currently! Colouring has completely taken over my time, my flat and my life! I haven’t had a chance to crochet since the summer and I do really miss it but I’m saving it for when the colouring craze calms down and then I’ll branch back out into doing more of a variety of activities. I do still bake about once a month, maybe more, I like to bake if I have visitors coming (sharing it helps me stick to my diet but I still get to indulge a little) so I do try to squeeze that in whenever I can. I couldn’t live without homemade cake so I have to fit it in around the colouring and generally get a bit of colouring done while my goodies are baking in the oven.

Doctor Who Colouring Book - Lucy Fyles
Doctor Who Colouring Book – Lucy Fyles

What have you learnt on your colouring journey? About art? About materials? About anything really!
Oh my goodness, I’ve learnt so much! When I started I knew nothing about pencils, I had no idea that they could be wax-based or oil-based, I didn’t know you could blend them, I knew nothing about all of the different techniques involved in blending. I knew almost nothing about art or the materials involved so I am a true beginner and my blog is written from that perspective. I’ve learnt the differences between alcohol and water-based ink, how to use watercolour pencils, how to blend and shade and that’s not even mentioning the blog which has been a very steep learning curve for someone who knew nothing about how to create, let alone build a successful blog and publicise it and get it known. I’ve learnt so many new skills, from how to punctuate to make it sound like I’m actually speaking on my blog, to reviewing successfully, to asking publishers and stationers for things (I was terrible at this to begin with, far too British and not wanting to ask for things), and I’ve learnt a lot about myself too and the things I can achieve even whilst housebound.

Harry Potter Colouring Book - Lucy Fyles
Harry Potter Colouring Book – Lucy Fyles

Who are your favourite colouring artists or type of page to colour and for what reason?
I have 5 favourite illustrators currently: Jessica Palmer, Claire Scully, Richard Merritt, Millie Marotta and Johanna Basford, and I can’t choose between their work, it’s all so beautiful! My favourite style, as fans of those illustrators’ work will know, is nature and nature-inspired work. I love realistic images of animals, plants and scenery but I also love imagery made up of other component parts like Millie’s animals created from flowers and leaves, and Jessica’s, Richard’s and Claire’s hyper-detailed creatures that give so much scope for different techniques and textures. Colouring natural images just calms me down, so much more than colouring anything else, and I find it’s the best substitute I have for not being able to experience the real thing in the outside world currently.

*You can read my interviews with Johanna Basford here and Millie Marotta here.

The Menagerie - Lucy Fyles
The Menagerie – Lucy Fyles

When do you colour, where, and what kind of ambience do you prefer?
I colour all the time, inbetween networking on social media and writing and publishing reviews. My preferences are to colour with daylight, especially when I’m using pencils because I find that easiest to get line-free blending. I hate silence but music really affects my mood so I tend not to be able to listen to it very often so I generally have the TV on and during the day I sit at a table right under my lounge window so it’s flooded with light. I live in a small flat so I don’t have a studio or anything, or even a desk so I either colour at my table under my window, or I colour on my knees sat on the sofa. I’m always surrounded by pens, pencils, colour charts and a heap of books and luckily my boyfriend doesn’t mind as long as he’s got a spot to sit in!

Legendary Landscapes - Lucy Fyles
Legendary Landscapes – Lucy Fyles

You are helping out with my new facebook group for Adult Colouring Book Reviews, along with a few other lovely reviewers – how important is the online community for you?
It’s so important to me. As someone who’s virtually housebound, I have an almost non-existent social life and couple that with being extremely extroverted, life at home gets very unhappy and lonely, especially because my boyfriend works 45 hours a week. Having groups I can spend time chatting in and a couple of reviewer friends that I can talk to when things get too much, or to bounce ideas off, makes such a difference. I was without internet for 2 days when we last changed supplier in October and my anxiety sky-rocketed. I’d thought I’d be fine but I felt so cut off and isolated and it was really scary. Being able to reach out to others around the world who are feeling like I am, who have similar interests, or who just make me laugh makes this whole condition much easier to bear because I’m not alone. I don’t know what I’d do without the internet currently.

Animal Kingdom Deluxe Edition - Lucy Fyles
Animal Kingdom Deluxe Edition – Lucy Fyles

What do you hope for in the future? Both in terms of your own health and also in terms of the adult colouring world?
I hope that adult colouring will continue to be popular and continue to reach the people it can benefit and help. I hope that talented artists will continue to create beautiful books for us to enjoy. In terms of my health, I hope it’ll improve, sooner rather than later. It’s almost 2 years that I’ve been virtually housebound for and I’m absolutely sick of it and having my life feel like it’s on pause so my hope is that I’ll start to recover soon and be able to go back to work and back to helping people with mental health problems. My sole aim in life is to help people and I can’t wait to be able to get back to that and start making a difference again! I hope in some small way my reviews are helping people, even if it’s just saving them money or helping them find a book they’ll fall in love with, that’s certainly my aim!

Colour Therapy Colouring Book - Lucy Fyles
Colour Therapy Colouring Book – Lucy Fyles

Thank you so much for answering my questions with such candour Lucy! Read a review of Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion on Colouring in the Midst of Madness here.

You can buy my book on Amazon here: Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion: Adult Coloring Book I have recently signed up as an Amazon affiliate, so if you would like to buy this book please do consider using my link, and help support Amelia’s Magazine. (I don’t run adverts, and server costs for this website alone are huge.)

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