Arts

Need a quick stress break? Here are literally dozens of free colouring pages from Canadian artists

You're never too old for some colouring! Download the drawings and let your imagination take over for a while.

You're never too old for some colouring! Download the drawings and let your imagination take over for a while

"Joy" by Christi Belcourt. (Illustration by Christi Belcourt/Colouring by Alyssa Trick)

If you're looking for an indoor activity to help relieve some stress, Canadian artists are here to help. Artists across the country are creating colouring pages and making them available to download for free on their websites or social platforms — and while you're there, you should stop and take a scroll through their amazing work. We've compiled a list below of a few of the colouring pages we've come across with some wise words from the artists who created them.

You're never too old for some colouring, so download the drawings, grab your crayons, pencils, markers or paints (or even your tablet), and let your imagination take over for a while.

Carmen Lew

Toronto-based illustrator Carmen Lew has uploaded eight colouring pages to her website, including two by fellow artists Kathleen Fu and Carmen Jabier.

Lew says she's been meaning to create a colouring book for a while, but work for clients has kept her tied up. "Since things have slowed down, I thought it was the perfect time to finally start one up," she explains. "I did have a moment at my desk where I thought about what kind of good I could provide people during this uncertain time, and it means a lot to me to make this colouring book free and accessible." 

For Lew, knowing that people are enjoying themselves through colouring means the most to her. "I have gotten so many lovely messages with true appreciation for the colouring pages, and it just means so much at this time to feel like I have connected with the community through my art."

If you're located in Canada and don't have access to a printer, Lew is offering to send some colouring pages through the mail. You can reach her at clewillustration@gmail.com.

Yana Ko

"In my personal view, colour brings happiness and hopes to light up spirits," says artist Yana Ko. Based in Hong Kong, Ko creates colour patterns for textile design as well as children's illustrations and graphic arts. She has made three of her images available for download on her website, where you can take inspiration from the bright colours she uses in her other work. "Colour is without limits. With colouring pages, you can concentrate on one thing and clear your mind."   

Alexandra Finkeldey

After videos of a pair of penguins exploring Chicago's temporarily closed Shedd Aquarium provided some much-needed joy a few weeks ago, Ottawa artist Alexandra Finkeldey created a sweet illustration of Edward and Annie the penguins for your colouring pleasure. You can download that drawing and two more of Finkeldey's images of cute animal friends here. 

Christi Belcourt

Award-winning artist Christi Belcourt posted a colouring version of her painting "Joy" on her Facebook page and the post has been shared over 1,500 times in under 24 hours. Belcourt requests that users post their kids' finished pages in the thread, and there are already many beautiful versions to scroll through.

Ambivalently Yours

Colouring these two downloadable illustrations by artist Ambivalently Yours will remind you to "keep breathing" and take it "one day at a time." 

"I wanted to make something to keep our hands busy during these terrifying times — an alternative to scrolling on our phones and watching the news all day long," says the Montreal-based artist. 

How does she feel when she sees the finished pages? "I feel like I'm collaborating with all these people all over the world, most of whom I've never met. It makes me feel less alone during this time of self-isolation."

She also shares some comforting advice as someone who has dealt with anxiety over the last few years: "There are a lot of things that can help you feel better like colouring, stretching, eating something healthy, or breathing deeply, and it is helpful to try to do those things when you can. But sometimes you just can't harness energy required to go from feeling bad to doing something that will make you feel better. During those moments, give yourself permission to wallow and be lazy and eat junk food and sleep too much. It's impossible to feel okay all the time, especially when the world is in crisis. Your emotions are there to take care of you, so sometimes you have to give them the space they need to do what they are meant to do."

One Day at a Time, by Ambivalently Yours. (Ambivalently Yours)

Niti Marcelle Mueth

Multidisciplinary artist and graphic designer Niti Marcelle Mueth shared six illustrations of women during this time of social distancing with messages like "All we need right now is to take care of ourselves & others by staying home" and "Realize that everything will be okay" — plus some advice we could use all the time: "Drink mo water!" 

Emily Taylor

Emily Taylor is an illustrator and surface designer whose vintage-style work can be found on textiles and packaging. 

"Working from home is not very different from my normal day-to-day as a freelancer, but I am consciously trying to keep busy and trying not to let our current situation weigh on me more than I can avoid," says Taylor. "Drawing, personally, has been a lifelong retreat when faced with challenging times."

You can download five of her drawings of flowers for free via WeTransfer. She's also sharing some prompts to help get your artistic juices flowing. "I've set myself to creating daily creative prompts for other creatives, which I am sharing on Instagram as a way to help any artists/designers feeling overwhelmed and stuck," she explains. "Continuing creative community support is more important than ever right now for other creatives to know that while they are isolated, they are not alone."

Kevin Ledo

In 2017, artist Kevin Ledo created his largest mural yet: a nine-storey portrait of beloved icon Leonard Cohen in Montreal's Plateau neighbourhood. Now, he's made a colouring version of his famous mural, writing on Instagram: "Adults and children, throw on some Leonard Cohen and have some fun with colour!"

Cécile Gariépy

"On the first morning of quarantine, I saw friends and relatives in absolute panic on Facebook," says Montreal-based artist Cécile Gariépy. "For the first time in a while, they had time on their hands, and so did the kids. I had several sketches stored on my computer, so I thought that making them available would be a way to help them pass the time." 

Gariépy now has 13 cheerful colouring pages on her website to download. "I think the main positive effect of coloring is to take our eyes off the computer screen," she says. "It also allows us to soothe our minds, to redirect our attention on something neutral and fun." 

So go ahead and do just that: take your eyes off the screen, colour in this delightful picnic, and look forward to being back outside with friends.  

Alex Garant

Figurative op artist Alex Garant has created a mini colouring book of three images in her signature portrait style that will have you seeing double. No, your eyes are fine. Don't touch your face!

Kindred & Hellbound

Megan Davis of Kindred & Hellbound out of Ottawa has uploaded an entire free colouring book of work. "I really hope it allows people a few minutes of relaxation at the least," says Davos. "Colouring is so soothing. It's important right now to give ourselves some mental and emotional distance from the news and media, so if I can help facilitate that in any way, I'm happy to!"

CBC Arts understands that this is an incredibly difficult time for artists and arts organizations across this country. We will do our best to provide valuable information, share inspiring stories of communities rising up and make us all feel as (virtually) connected as possible as we get through this together. If there's something you think we should be talking about, let us know by emailing us at cbcarts@cbc.ca. See more of our COVID-related coverage here.

About the Author

Mercedes Grundy has been producing videos for CBC Arts and Exhibitionists since 2015. She is a unabashed Leonardo DiCaprio enthusiast with an educational background in photography, and produces film and theatre when not busy here at the CBC. And while her love for the arts does not discriminate, she openly acknowledges she is a horrible dancer.

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