Coloring is calming, no matter your age, and the coloring book trend seems to be here to stay. If your inner child is also a Disney fan, take a look at the Art of Coloring book series. Disney sent us two to check out: Mickey & Minnie and Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Do you remember the terrible coloring books you had when you were little? The cheap, discolored paper that couldn’t take more action than a crayon? Those days are gone. The Art of Coloring books are a delight in several ways.
First, they’re not just page after page of elaborate and memorable scenes that will make you try to remember the accurate colors and summon guilt about staying inside the lines. Of course, there are plenty of those pages, with great art of characters you love, and they’re beautiful. But interspersed are pages with simple, repeated designs for leisurely, zen-like filling in. (I also think they’d make great wrapping paper for small gifts!)
I had a good idea of what I was likely to find in The Nightmare Before Christmas but felt less certain about Mickey & Minnie. As it turned out, I was in love with the surprising array of art in that title. It starts with art from the 1920s (including Steamboat Willy, of course). You can watch — and color — the characters’ evolutions through the decades of strips, posters, and Sunday comic panels. The 1940s occupy the bulk of the book, which concludes with the characters for the 2013 Mickey Mouse series on the Disney Channel.
The paper is high-quality, and each page is perforated so that you can remove your masterpieces. The paper is sturdy and bright white for your colors.
I started with colored pencils (Sally, above) and then moved on to really put the paper to the test. Next, I tried water-based blendable markers. They bled through to the back of the page, but not to the neighboring sheet, and the worst bits were where I’d used the blending marker:
The paper isn’t watercolor paper, but I thought I’d give it a difficult test with watercolor pencils and just the lightest application of water — and it did ok. Only very minimal paper warping and that was my fault for getting overly enthusiastic with blending. You could definitely use the watercolor pencils and apply water sparingly to a few parts.
Disney also sent us The Percy Jackson Coloring Book, which has a few minor differences from the ones in the Art of Coloring series. The main difference is that the pages in it aren’t perforated. The art is also more complicated, though that may be the subject matter. It still has several of those more leisurely pages of simple images to color in.
The Art of Coloring series is available in a variety of titles, including The Muppets, Disney Villains, Star Wars, and the one I’m adding to my wish list, The Golden Girls.