On August 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri, white police officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Michael Brown.
When a jury in November announced its decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson for the killing, some protests gave way to vandalism, leaving local businesses’ windows shattered. Members of the St. Louis art community came together, eager to help however they could. And they began to paint.
They painted messages of hope and peace over hundreds boarded-up windows. They continued painting for days, attracting other participants. The also talked about their community and what they hoped for in the future.
Writer Carol Swartout Klein created an award-winning children’s book about the project, Painting for Peace in Ferguson. The author then collaborated with illustrator Robert O’Neil to create the accompanying book: Painting for Peace: A Coloring Book. Funds from the sale of both books is given to the Greater St. Louis Community Foundation charity.
Painting for Peace: A Coloring Book features line drawings based on the Ferguson paintings, as well as a few original images. The cover is a partially colored-in example of the drawing on the Title Page. The inside front and back covers have photographs of some of the original murals. The introduction is followed by 21 single-sided drawings, each preceded by a relevant quote by a famous person such as Helen Keller and Maya Angelou. The stories behind ten of the murals is then presented. The last page has three bookmarks to color and cut out.
Most of the designs are based on the murals painted on Ferguson as part of the Painting for Peace project. All emanate a sense peace and hope in some way – with people, words, flowers and scenes. The designs are a mix of realistic and abstract, and some include short written sentiments. Some fill the page with line work while others have white space to add your own embellishments if you want. A few of the drawings have frames drawn around them; none run into the gutter.
The paper is a heavy and bright white. It does have a smooth surface without much tooth so there is hardly any white speckling with colored pencils. However, you will have to lay down a couple of layers of softer core pencils, such as Prismacolor, and burnish with a colorless pencil or marker to get bold colors. Blending is good, as you can see in my example to the left.
Designs are printed single-sided, so all coloring media work well. However, alcohol-based markers will bleed through to the other side, which has the quote for the subsequent illustration. Water-based markers only left the barest of shadowing with multiple passes of color.
The printing is very good, with no pixellation, although some of the line work in drawings with tiny detail isn’t 100% clear.
The coloring book designs range from simple to complex making this a coloring book for adults and children – a great way to have some family time together! The balance of designs with open, large elements combined with designs with more detail makes it perfect for any mood and talent. For more experienced colorists, larger elements provide an opportunity to blend different colors or use texture strokes. And even the more detailed drawings don’t have to be intimidating as you don’t have to color every tiny element but instead use wider sweeps of color and let finer line work provide texture and embellishment.
Simply put, this is definitely a “feel-good” coloring book, full of peace and hope. Having a bad day? Really read the quote for one of the drawings while you color and focus on the image and you’ll experience at least a bit of relief from any negativity you are carrying around. It just feels good to color these pages.
From the first page to the last, this is a fantastic coloring book for adults, and for any other member of the family as well. With its beautiful construction and variety of meaningful and unique drawings, it would make a wonderful gift, even for your self. I rate it 4★ out of 5★.
And don’t forget to check out the accompanying, award-winning children’s book, Painting for Peace in Ferguson, a wonderful tool for talking with children about how we all have something to contribute to helping our communities. Available at Amazon.com for $13.55, Amazon.ca for C$16.53 and Book Depository.
The folks behind Painting for Peace have given me one copy each of Painting for Peace : A Coloring Book and the accompanying children’s book, Painting for Peace in Ferguson to give away to one of my readers!
Getting in on the fun is easy-peasy: simply follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter below. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada and starts today, December 24, 2016. Entries close on December 31, 2016 at midnight Eastern. Be sure to come back every day for new and more entry options to improve your chances of winning!