Blog / 2024 / Coloring in Your Feelings

June 4, 2024

[video transcript]

You can buy the book here! And if you’re in central Jersey on the 13th don’t miss the coloring book social in Lambertville!

Come celebrate the book and color with me on Thursday June 13th from 6 to 8 pm at Sojourner. Artist talk at 6, with cookies and coloring to follow.

Sojourner
26 Bridge Street
Lambertville, NJ 08530

More info and a sneak peek of the coloring book images are here.

coloring book page showing a panda holding a clapperboard
coloring book version of Black-and-white Thinking
VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

It’s here! The coloring book version of Everything’s Fine! This book has been in the making for quite some time now—since before I knew it would even be a coloring book, since September 2021, when I started work on the series of paintings about mental health that I would eventually end up calling Everything’s Fine. First there were the years of working on those paintings. Then there was the six-month process of turning the paintings into coloring book pages and refining those illustrations as well as the questions to go along with them.

That process was easier for some images than for others. Some of the paintings really didn’t match the vertical format of the book so those images needed to be completely redesigned, like this marching band of cats for example. But one of the paintings proved harder than all the others—and clearly it’s not because of the format.

When I started the process of trying to figure out how to turn this panda painting into a coloring book page, I initially made this drawing, which looked weirdly human and all wrong.

Frustrated, I went back to this, the original compositional sketch for the painting. It helped me make this first draft of the coloring book page, which I felt emphasized my idea of the divided panda too much. I could see how it would basically force a person who’s coloring it in to do what I did with the painting, making half of the panda with its normal coloring and half with the colors inverted.

I wasn’t totally happy with that for lots of reasons. So I started over, tracing from that first attempt at a coloring page and trying to add shapes and marks more carefully this time, leaving more space for colorers to add their own color choices.

Like with all the coloring pages I made for the book, here I’m working on Strathmore Bristol smooth surface paper using Sakura Pigma Micron pens, size 05. I also have a piece of a translucent plastic that I use as a smudge guard, resting my drawing hand on it instead of on the fresh ink that I’ve just laid down on the paper.

Also like with all the coloring pages I made for the book, I cleaned up this drawing quite a bit after finishing it and scanning it into my computer—mostly making the lines a little sharper in places, that sort of thing. But, in addition, I ended up adjusting the bear’s left arm a bit too, because I felt like it read better with the shape in the crook of the elbow moved out a bit.

I am so proud of this project. I’m proud of this—the panda—and of the whole book, but I’m also proud of the way I managed to push through so many emotional blocks in order to make it happen. Some of the blocks were the usual stuff of an artist convincing themself that their work matters, but there was an additional pressure: I was trying to make art that will help people to get in touch with their feelings in a deeper way, so I also had to convince myself that I am allowed to do that. As a compassionate human being who works hard to be kinder with others as well as themself, I am allowed to make a book about mental health.

And the liberation psychologist Dr. Nisha Gupta thinks so too, and she wrote a beautiful preface for the book. Everything’s Fine is available now through my site!

surreal coloring book and mental health workbook for teens by genderqueer artist Gwenn Seemel, published in 2024
Everything’s Fine, the coloring book

Maybe this post made you think of something you want to share with me? Or perhaps you have a question about my art? I’d love to hear from you!

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