The talented Del recently made a beautiful mandala design for us which can be downloaded and used for colouring in. This is a great therapeutic technique we’ve been trying out and loving at Simple Knots Craft Club in Cardiff recently. You can find the link to download your mandala below this interview with Del, where we learned more about the world of adult colouring and about how she uses drawing to keep her head above the waves!
Hello! Could you introduce yourself to our readers?
Hi! I’m Del, originally from the Rhondda, but I’ve been living in South Africa for about seven years now! For the past 18 months or so I’ve been getting into illustration – I mostly draw digital colouring pages for people to download, print and colour.
What first sparked your interest in being an artist?
I’ve always been artistically inclined – it runs in the family. I took art at GCSE level but then dropped it for sciences at A-level and didn’t really get back into it for a long while. I’d do the odd painting here and there but mostly satisfied my urge to create with writing and photography. When the Adult Colouring Book phase kicked off last year I bought a couple of books to join in, and thought to myself, ‘hey, I could probably draw this stuff!’. My first pieces were pretty crude but I’ve drawn every day since then and I’ve improved a lot!
Do you feel like your work has a positive message in it – if so, is that a message to yourself, or to your viewer?
If there’s any message in there it’s that persistence and practice pays off. When I started doing these drawings my lines were shaky and all over the place – I didn’t have the muscle control in my fingers to hold the pen steady and I used to get very frustrated. But people still loved colouring the pictures, so I kept at it. People ask me what pens I use and what paper I use because they think that’s what they need to produce similar art – but it’s all about the practice. I started in April 2015 and I’ve drawn every day, sometimes for several hours a day, since then. I’m miles better than I was when I started and I think that’s the most important message – if you enjoy something and you want to get better at it, keep doing it. A year is a relatively small amount of time to sacrifice in order to greatly improve a skill.
Do you use your art as a catharsis; a way to work through what you’re feeling?
Adult Colouring became ‘a thing’ for its ability to relax and de-stress, and when I started making my own images to colour, that’s what I wanted people to get out of them; but I realised that even drawing the pictures has the same effect, for me at least, of giving my mind a break from things and letting me just quietly focus on something. It demands a lot of concentration so it keeps the part of my brain busy that tends to over-think things and worry about things, which is very cathartic in itself. I used to meditate a lot and I’ve become pretty proficient at letting things go (and being a woman on the internet, you have to get a pretty thick skin!!), and I’m lucky that I’m quite mindful most of the time – but on the odd occasion that I do get angry or upset, putting pen to paper does help to take my mind off it and calm me down.
Do you find it easier to speak through your art than in person sometimes?
I find it easier to retreat into my drawing than to speak to people sometimes 😀 I’ve drawn when angry and I’ve drawn when happy and it didn’t seem to make much difference to the end result of my work, at least with the mandalas. People still enjoyed colouring them and found the same benefits from colouring the angry-mandalas as the happy-mandalas. Which I’m glad about – I wouldn’t want to do something like accidentally transfer my bad vibes through my art!
How do you pick yourself up when you’ve had a bad day?
I try to do something productive, something that will give me a sense of accomplishment, even if it’s something tiny – so that I can say ‘hey, at least you did that thing’. Helping other people also makes me feel much better about myself – being able to cheer someone else up will lift your own mood too. There’s also usually chocolate and kitty-cuddles in there somewhere! I strongly believe in animals as pillars of emotional support. They know when you’re hurting, and having a furry (or otherwise!) friend at home to pay attention to can lift your spirits.
How powerful would you say that being creative is in terms of being able to change someone’s mood, and affect change?
Very powerful. There’s this quote by one of my favourite authors, Chuck Palahniuk, that I love – ‘The first step to controlling your world is to control your culture. To model and demonstrate the kind of world you demand to live in. To write the books. Make the music. Shoot the films. Paint the art.’ Art isn’t just what you see on paper or canvas; it’s books, stories, movies, TV shows, photographs, music, fashion, architecture, design. It pulls from culture and influences culture, both on a personal level and a more global level. Whether you’re the one creating or the one observing, art can and does affect your mood and can change both you as a person, and the world you live in.
Is there a message you’d send to anyone who’s struggling right now?
This is a difficult question to answer – people suffer in different ways and need different things, and I think anything I say here will probably sound a bit trite. But here goes – Don’t be afraid to reach out. Life is crazy scary and we’re all in it together; everyone has their own battles that they’re dealing with. Find someone who’s fought your battles and let them help you, and then find people who need YOUR help and help them too. We make ourselves stronger, and help other people to be stronger, by talking about our struggles openly and being empathetic to those who are suffering.
Where can we see more of your work?
All over the place! My website is www.delsdoodles.com, my artist page on Facebook is at facebook.com/delangharad , I have a gallery at welshpixie.deviantart.com and I’m on Instagram as @WelshPixie .