I was asked about the creation of The Big Girls Little Coloring Book...

I received a delightful letter from a friends daughter who had received The Big Girls Little Coloring Book for Christmas.  My friend had purchased the  book   for her mother, her daughter and her self and I was delighted when Kiani contacted me with the following message:

Hi Carol, I have a question about The Big Girls Little Coloring Book... More than one question actually!

How long did it take you to come up with the pictures that are in the book? How long did it take to create? Was it hard to do? How did you come up with the idea of having a Big Girls Little Coloring book? What got you interested in drawing?

Kiani’s questions were a welcome opportunity to reflect on the process of the book after months of developing the Mandalas and poster and I told her I would answer them as a blog post with an acknowledgement of appreciation to her. 

Thank you Kiani! I have enjoyed your questions and the opportunity to reflect on the Big Girls Little Coloring Book and where I began as a Mandala artist.

Here are the responses  to your well thought out questions:

How did you come up with the idea of having a Big Girls Little Coloring Book?

I had been creating Mandalas for women’s groups for many years. I was working in homeless shelters and women’s prisons and wanted to have personal development information available that didn’t need to be read as many women were not into reading or could not read because of low literacy, some  came from non-English speaking back grounds so I was looking for creative ways to share information and create a relaxed learning environment.

As my personal development art became known across women’s services networks in our town people began to ask me for copies of the Mandalas for their mum / sister / friend etc and it became apparent that the Mandalas were appealing to all women, not just those who were in shelters and prisons.

I had created a similar book of Mandalas with information a few years ago called The ART of Change but it stayed within the circles where I was working at the time. It was pre-facebook and social media era  so there was not the same on line  opportunities to share and market self published works like there is now.

How long did it take you to come up with the pictures that are in the book?

It was in March 2012 that I was offered a venue to launch The Big Girls Little Coloring book at my friend Megs Conscious Connections Centre a few months later in December,  12/12/2012

I had not even begun the book at the time, although I had many years experience of making Mandalas and women’s personal development art so I wrote out a schedule for the Mandalas of creating  one a week for 20 weeks and then a week or so for the posters that accompany them.
I also got married in that time so it was a busy few months and having a clear schedule for creating the Mandalas was very useful.

How long did it take to create?

From beginning the Mandalas to the launch it was 10 months & for the most part, I did stick to the schedule and found that having a plan was very useful. Although I think the book really began almost 20 years ago when I first read about Mandalas in Carl Jungs  book Memories, Dreams and Reflections.

Was it hard to do?

The biggest challenge was actually making the commitment to doing the book. 

Many people has asked me over the years if I would put my personal development art into a book and I usually said I will one day and will make sure to invite you  to the launch. The group of 4 women who encouraged me to actually DO the book and not just talk about it didn’t accept my standard reply, instead they came up with a date and a plan to support me through the creative process. I then became accountable to a group of women who really believe in my work and the importance of sharing it in the larger world.

If ever you want to achieve a creative goal Kiani, I really recommend you find one or two friends or family members who love and support you  and can be there during the challenges and celebrations!

What got you interested in drawing?

I was very lucky to grow up with a creative Mum so when most of us stopped drawing and making things as we went on past primary school, I continued drawing. I actually believe we are all creative but many of us stop doing the drawings that we loved to do in early child hood, and then we forget we ever used to do them in the first place.

In my later years I was always doodling during meetings, on the telephone, I discovered that I absorbed information better if my hands were occupied as I talked or listened. This is known as kinaesthetic learning, whereby we learn best by doing,  by having movement as we explore new concepts and information.

Even now I see interesting shapes in the clouds and landscapes and am always thinking “hmmm…that would make a good Mandala”.

Thanks so much for your interesting questions Kiani. 

You are very welcome to share photos of your coloured  Mandalas on The Big Girls Little Coloring Book facebook page and I hope the coming year is filled with fun and creativity for you!

Why do so many women say "I’m not Creative" ?

Yes you are!
I meet  many women who are interested in learning about  Mandalas and the medARTation of colouring them. 


Some women will say,  I’m not creative but I’d like to colour one of those Mandalas

I am  interested in the process that leads to  someone deciding I am not Creative

*Click image to enlarge

Every day in kindergartens and pre schools across the country little children are creating stories, making art, dancing, singing songs and painting all day, as one spark of an imaginative idea fires up another in the rich wonderland of the children’s inner world.
We were all that child once.

Many years ago I read of an experiment whereby a group of researchers went into a kindergarten asked the children questions related to their creativity.

Who can draw? All hands went up in the room and children began pointing to their master pieces on the wall. 

Who can dance? The same excited, uninhibited revelry erupted and some began a spontaneous display of their favourite move.

The children’s responses were an affirmation that creativity and imagination are very active and easily stimulated in the early childhood setting.

The team then went into a high school and posed the same questions to a group of 15 year olds. 

Who can draw? Amidst embarrassed laughter several students pointed to a girl in the front row, Melissa is a good drawer, she’s great, she’s the best drawer in the class.

The difference between the 5 and 15 year old was remarkable. Similar responses were met by the other questions Who can dance? Who likes to tell stories?

The exuberance of children who revelled in their creativity has dissipated over the 10 years. Words like good, better, best defined whether or not someone was considered creative or not.

As the experiment was repeated it became very apparent that somewhere between 5 and 15, children lose their free flowing creativity & will often adopt beliefs that are counter to the innovation, art,  song, dance and imagination that marked the richness of their pre-school years.

An early child hood worker was in one of my ART of Change  groups recently and she told me that it is always difficult to see her children leave to go into the ‘big school’ on the other side of the oval. She said  she knew they would have  to sit still for long periods, play less, tell fewer stories and have to reign in the impetus to jump, dance, shout and play in order to conform the expectations of a ‘well behaved’ class. 

She said she often comes across one of her little story tellers or artists a couple of years later and can see how their  flame of creative energy has begun to dwindle.

Perhaps those of us who have adopted a belief of I am not creative  have simply forgotten the free flowing imagination and world of possibility that we were immersed in as magical children?

It occurred to me that, as adults,  many people are  Magical Children in Exile, holding beliefs like my sister is the creative one in our family  or  I have no imagination  when in fact there is a huge well of unexplored creativity and imagination inside all of us, the very same unlimited creativity that we were immersed in when we were little children.

*Click image to enlarge

The good news is that there are many ways to reclaim  lost creativity!  

Sitting and colouring a Mandala can warm up the imagination and inspire new thoughts and ideas as we tap into the peaceful silence of the medARTative state. 

The rhythmic hand motions as we colour is like a mantra and our breathing slows down as we move into a restful, creative state.

It is in this state that we tap into  the imagination and deeper aspects of our mind that are accessed in silence, beyond the noise of the external world and our internal chatter.

Says these three magical words out loud & feel the difference!

*Click image to enlarge

Big Girls Colouring Circles ~ Crafternoon Delights!

I was delighted to receive an inbox message from someone who has downloaded The Big Girls Little Colouring Book to let me know that she is hosting a Big Girls Colouring Circle  this weekend.  Her home is in Canada, I live in Australia and thanks to the amazing power of social media, we are sharing a common passion & inspiring one another with the fantastic connections that occur when women come together and create.

The heArt and soul of The Big Girls Little Colouring Book is  to connect, create, inspire and invoke new possibilities. 

I am blessed to be a member of a group of 5 women who meet every three months for the soul purpose of spending a day creating, sharing food, laughing, offering feedback and new perspectives and simply taking a day out of often busy schedules to nourish and nurture together.

The last time we gathered I put theI Am The Gardener of My Life Mandala on the table and we also brought along interesting books and photographs to share in our talking circle.

I thought it would be fun to share some of the tips and tools for hosting a Big Girls Colouring Circle as several people have expressed an interest in getting together with their women friends and spending a day or an evening colouring together.
There is of course no "right" way or "wrong" way to host a get together but there are some things that can really contribute to making it an enjoyable, fruitful gathering.

This is what the space looks like before everyone arrives when I am hosting a home group:

This is what the table becomes once everyone has settled in. For this particular circle I provided the Mandala Energy Woman as a A3 small poster template.

Some groups decide that everyone coming along will bring something to share & sometimes the host likes to provide the meal /snacks, it really depends on the individual and the occasion.

If it is in the evening people may bring  something to share for supper but if we are having an all day get together (my favourite) we discuss before hand what we will have for lunch and what each person  would like to contribute.

Usually the host provides the tea and coffee and perhaps a few nibbles on the tables. Some groups rotate the hosting and others meet at the same place  and other groups I am  a part of through my ART of Change program may meet weekly, fortnightly or monthly.

Here are a few common questions I am asked regarding Big Girls Colouring Circles and if you have any other questions, drop me a line and I will respond in the comment section here:

Should I supply the colouring pencils and the Mandalas?

Ideally for a regular gathering it would be great if everyone had their own copy of The Big Girls Little Colouring Book although  someone recently told me she wanted to offer her downloaded book to her group members to chose their own Mandala.  This is a very generous gesture & the download format enables that kind of sharing. 

The copyright agreement in the download doesn't allow for multiple photocopying but we have made the book available at  a very affordable price knowing that women often want to share the experience with their friends and family. If members have their own copy they can experience the full 20 Mandala journey of the book both in the group and in their own time so it really depends on how you would like to share the process.

I always encourage people to have their own coloured pencils and pens as they become the tools by which we create with and bring the Mandalas to life in our own unique way. Sometimes the host will have her own supplies for sharing so again, it is up to the host and the group to decide.

What kind of colouring tools  should we use?

Thats a great question regarding what to use.
Theres a number of types of pencils. At the very sort of entry level for a good quality, inexpensive brand i recommend Faber Castel. I also use their texta colours but am not sure if they are specific to Australia or not.
After that the Derwent brand is great for variety and quality of lead and colour. 

InkTensives are also popular with many Big Girls colour'ers and I have used FaberCastel water coloured pencils on many of my Mandalas and the Mandala posters I create also.

The Rolls Royce of the colouring world are Prisma pencils, they are expensive but can often be found much cheaper on ebay sites. 
Many of my Mandalas are coloured with Prismas after asking for a group present from my family last year of the big box of them. :-)
Faber Castels are equally as good in so far as they are a very reliable brand. I always avoid pencils from the bargain type stores, especially in my workshops, as they are often cheap but have very soft leads and break and crumble very easily.

Some people have been talking about Copic Markers as a terrific colouring wand and I am planning on getting some for my Christmas present this year! Colouring in things for presents are a great way to build up the creative tool box.

A space where women come together to create, colour, share, laugh and cry is by nature a healing space because it is generated from Love. Sometimes our Big Girls group gathers in nature, we have Big Girls picnics & we also meet around the camp fire.

If your group shares a common Spiritual path you may like to think about opening with a healing prayer or inviting the oldest group member to share her Wisdom with the younger ones. The divine feminine energies are amplified when women gather & often the simple act of sitting and colouring together will generate its own Magic and story telling so we don't need to try too hard to "structure" the gathering.

In our womens circles we sometimes share a poem or a story or we bring a question or quandary to the circle, knowing our siStars will have answers and new ideas. We have laughed and cried and meditated and prayed together and celebrated our blessings with gratitude.

What do you think about the idea of a theme for the day? I thought I might read one of the big Girls affirmations and the story of the Mandala?

I think thats a terrific idea! You are creating the space for women to gather, women who you know and care about and so you are well qualified to choose the theme for the day and if you become an on going group, perhaps others might like to also introduce the theme in a rotating format.

For more information about the colouring in process check out my previous blog entry: "Its more than just colouring in "

I hope this has been useful for you and I will leave you with one last photo. It is of my beloved Mother, Maureen, as we sat and painted the air drying clay beads I had rolled for us earlier in the week.

When we sit in the creative space together, Mum tells me some of her stories. She shares the memories of her early childhood in war torn England, she tell me about books she has read, fond memories of when we were a little and what it was like to travel across the world to live in a new country when she was a young mother of three daughters.

Sitting in the creative space together is a beautiful, peaceful way to connect, to reconnect and to  enjoy the simple blessings and pleasures of creating with our hands, hearts and imaginations.

I hope you too  may feel inspired to share the Big Girls Colouring Circle with the women you love ...


The Big Girls Little Coloring Book. Its more than just "Coloring In"...

Welcome to the very first Big Girls Little Colouring Book blog post (Coloring Book for my American friends).

I am often asked don't you think that colouring is a bit childish? & I smile knowing that the person who is sincerely asking the question has not yet experienced the Mandala Magic!

Colouring Mandalas  is a form of open eyed  meditation. 

The Mind is focused on the artwork and the soothing rhythm of the pattern. The hands are engaged and the repetitive movement of the colouring is like a mantra that centres the thoughts slows down the breathing and massages the mind. I call this a  Medartation.

Often when a person picks up the colouring pencils they will let out a sigh, shuffle in their seat and step contentedly into the circle of the Mandala.

There have been many occasions when I have taken the black & white Mandala templates into very high stress environments such as domestic violence refuges and mental health groups.

As soon as the Mandalas are put on the table they are usually welcomed with great enthusiasm and people say things like I haven't coloured in since I was a kid and I love these pictures what did you say they  are  called?

For some people  there is  unresolved shame around their creativity from  childhood where beliefs like  my sister is the creative one or my teacher told me I am not a very good drawer were instilled.

Many of us had to put our colouring pencils  away in junior primary school & haven't picked them up since! Sitting down to colour after so many years is like a welcome reunion with an old friend. The enjoyable, relaxing activity of putting colour to  a black & white image & bringing it to  life is something we did easily as children but  have often forgotten how much we enjoyed it by the time we are well into our adult years.

In my ART of Change programs women will often tell me  when I colour the Mandalas everything just slows down and I forget about all the stuff that I'm dealing with when I come to the group & we colour & talk.

Sometimes I am asked should I start on the outside of the circle or in the middle? Should I copy your colours because I am not very creative.

Questions that  seek permission to do creative things in a certain way are sometimes asked because the person has lost their confidence to create like we did as children, freely, unselfconsciously & unquestioningly.

Limiting beliefs that we picked up without even being aware of them become the seeds for losing touch with the infinite garden of creativity and imagination that is within all of us. Its good to remember that the word  belief has "lie" in the middle ~belief ~  & it is possible that some of our most strongly held beliefs  may be inherited  fibs & lies that we picked up early in life. I am not creative is often one of them.

I am the Gardener of My Life

There are no “right” ways although ways to sit and colour the Mandalas, there is simply your way.

My response to questions that are coming from a place of doubt and creative insecurity is just put the pencils in your hands and enjoy the process! Start where it feels right for you! You get to  choose  the colour that appeals to you.

Each of The Big Girls Little Colouring Book Mandalas is accompanied by an Affirmation (positive statement) & a description of the message & meaning behind the Mandala. It is food for thought when sitting down to a feast of creative exploration and delicious, delightful serves of the imagination at play!

Colouring the Mandalas  is all about  enjoying the process, remembering your creative self and experiencing the deep relaxation that comes from connecting with the circle. Your are creating your own personalised Mandala that not only looks good but will continue to be a very visual reminder of the Affirmation & its personal development message.

I would love for you to share your experience of colouring in and where that takes you and if you have any questions about how the Mandalas are beneficial in both workplace settings, health & healing environments  and with a small group of friends, drop me a line and I will answer your questions in the next blog update.

Have a magical, creative day!

Every child is born an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. - Pablo Picasso 


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