Something fun I’ve been working on in recent months has been ‘The Lovely Levy Colouring Book’. It’s just gone on sale and I’m pretty proud of my work in a genre that’s brand new to me!
As readers of this blog will know, 2015 has been my ‘Year of Drawing’, which saw me determined to teach myself to draw all over again. After a childhood of drawing compulsively and teenage years which saw me decide on writing as a career (as the more likely option – ha!), and the subsequent sidelining of any kind of artwork in my life… I decided to devote a little part of each day to producing something visual. Something I could finish. Even just a little scribble. But something that I was happy with.
Very early on in 2015 I found myself braving the weather and getting out and about in Levenshulme, where we live, and drawing local scenes. Inside cafes looking at patrons and looking out of windows. Street scenes and shops. I even sat amongst window displays in florists and on the cosy settees of hair salons. I sat sweltering beside the local swimming pool with my water colours.
I realized I was making up a visual record of our little bit of Manchester, bit by bit. Levenshulme is a kind of inner city village, a little bit shabby but thoroughly loved by most who live here. It’s a jigsaw of all kinds of cultures and histories, and it’s changing every day. The more I looked at and the more I drew – even after ten years of living here – the more I was finding out. I went to hunt out The Secret Lake and found an arcadian wilderness behind the council tip. I sat in the Market on chilly Saturday mornings and drew all the dogs who led the owners round the fancy stalls. And I started getting commissions for original paintings. I have found myself specializing in portraying exaggeratedly large cats sitting in streets and outside their owners’ houses.
Anyhow – along came the idea for the Lovely Levy Colouring Book, some time in late summer. Of course, I’d seen the Colouring Books in the bookshops and newsagents and WH Smith’s on the platform at Piccadilly Station. They looked impressive and all a bit abstract to me. They were a bit like those Magic Eye pictures of years ago – fractal stuff that you could lose yourself in… Wouldn’t it be nice, I thought, to have books to colour that had pictures of places you actually knew? A place where you actually lived..?
So I ended up redrawing many of my favourite views of Levenshulme. And when I talked about the project on our local Facebook group there was a lot of interest in the idea… Every time I mentioned what I was working on there were people wanting to order it right away.
It was all very intricate to draw and took ages. And then I had to find the right printer, and the right way to do it…
Anyhow, it all got done, and yesterday we picked up boxes of the finished book from the printers – and it’s all come out lovely! It’s on sale in our local café bar, and will be given as fancy dress prizes at the night market celebrating Hallowe’en, and I’ll have a pop-up shop during the Levy Festival on November the 7th…
I really thought it would just be of interest to people in Levy. But almost straight away I was getting enquiries from people further afield. People who weren’t in Manchester, and even people outside the UK..!
So we’ll see how it goes! I’ve been vaguely promising to create a Whitby Coloring Book next…!