Greetings again! This is the second time Katelyn let me create a guest blog post on her amazing site. My previous post was over Veterans Day, where I remarked on the incredible (and necessary) support that families can provide to those who serve our military. Much credit is due to those who aren’t called to fight, but who bear the greater burden of support.
I’m writing this post as a follow-up to one Katelyn wrote a few months ago about enjoying coloring books as a family. She wrote that post fresh off a trip to my house in Alabama, where I had several early pages of my adult coloring book completed. We had a great time coloring them with the Fagan family! In fact, Mr. Fagan remarked that it was much more fun than he expected. Today I’m excited to explore the need for mental breaks, relaxation, or as is so often used today “mindfulness.”
Like many of you, I am busy. I live a busy life. It’s full of many things and responsibilities. As a military officer, I work somewhere between 10-12 hours a day Monday through Friday and can be called upon for extended hours as circumstance demand. I have eight children. They range in age from 14 years old to 7 months old, all of which are quite busy, intelligent, and motivated. I have a responsible position within our church, as does my wife. Nearly every evening of every day is spoken for, as are the weekends. At present, there is little discretionary time for my wife or I. It can feel exhausting.
What I think we all learn at one point or another, is that sometimes you just need to take a break; time away, time on other projects, time doing housework, time sitting and listening to others, or just time doodling up new ideas, or asking the questions of “what’s next for us?”
Over the last few years, in addition to my full time military job I’ve been creating artwork for numerous outlets, and writing books. One of my main artwork customers is a software utility named RPG Maker, for which I’ve created a large amount of fun little characters and monsters.
My first RPG Maker resource pack was released in Nov 2013, with another 5 packs released from then until May 2016. As a fan of RPGs, I’ve loved every bit of it and am very fond of the RPG Maker program. But all the same, considering the many pressures on my life and family, I felt a break was in order, which is actually how I fell into the coloring book project.
Looking for my own respite and contemplating what was next for me, I came across adult coloring books and I was captivated. I’d actually made a bunch of coloring pages years ago for kids. Coloring books are an art form that had previously been written off as something exclusively for children; no grown-ups allowed. In recent years, however, coloring pages have made a resurgence as a medium for everyone.
After exploring the offerings on the market, and not quite finding what I was personally looking for, I decided to make some of my own books, or at least some pages, to share with my own kids, family, and friends.
For my RPG Maker work, I used a hand-drawn style with bright colors, simple shapes, and lots of character. My most recent pack, released in May of this year, was entirely black and white, inked drawings. Naturally this put me in the right mood at the right time to take a chop at this expanding arena of coloring book art. After some preliminary drawings and mountains of feedback and research, I created my own adult coloring book and I can’t wait to share it with everyone!
Owing to my connection with RPG games I named the book “Level Up! – A Progressive Adult Coloring Book.” Progressive because Level Up! allows you a new level of artistic freedom as you progress from simple designs to more complex textures and details. The early pages (Lv 1) are ideal for those who want to explore on their own, or for younger colorists whose attention span might be limited, or simply for those who like to have bigger spaces to explore and design on their own. Each level offers something for any colorist. The few samples below demonstrate the additional complexity and detail you get as you progress through the book.
The book is dedicated to my lovely wife, Andrea, who after 15 years of marriage, is my best friend. Without her encouragement the book simply would never have been. I owe her so much, and that debt grows deeper each day. It is a great blessing to have someone so close by, seeking goodness, managing an extensive household, and still has some left to be an encouragement to me.
In all, I’ve made some beautiful images that I think anyone can enjoy and take a break from worries and busy-ness, gather your family together, sit, and talk to each other as you color. This is where you come in! If it’s high time for you to take a personal project break and explore your own mindfulness and creative calm, consider grabbing a copy of “Level Up! A Progress Adult Coloring Book.” You can grab a copy from any of the following retailers:
Small Size (8.5 x 11) – $12.99
Large 11″ x 17″ Edition available for $14.99 on Etsy.
Lastly, breaks are meant to bring us rest, rejuvenation, and put us back on track for the main purposes of our lives.
Making something beautiful with our break time reminds us of the many beauties around us, the love God has for us, the love we have for our families, and so on. I hope to use what time I have in life to encourage those around me, especially my family.
I was amazed today that my four year old was so captivated by her copy of the coloring book (each of our kids got a copy from the first run), that she spent the better part of the day tackling page after page. I sat next to her this evening while she colored very intensely and just watched the focused expressions on her face. I marveled at how beautiful she is. To me, if there is an end goal to “mindfulness”: it’s that we pay a little more attention to simple joys and recognize the great value we have to one another…
Maybe my book will help people get some of that, and if not, at least I tried.
If you want the chance to win two different coloring pages, Octo and Turtle, in all three coloring levels, then leave a comment below telling me how you like to take a mindfulness break in your daily life. Giveaway will end Thursday, November 3, 2016 at midnight CST. Good luck!
Tyler Warren is an artist and writer currently serving in the United States Air Force. He first joined the military in 2000 by enlisting in the Marine Corps. He has a BA in Economics and an MA of Innovative Leadership. Prior to becoming an instructor at Officer Training School, Tyler was the speechwriter to the Commander of Air Force Materiel Command. There he crafted strategic messaging for the 4-star Commander, Vice Commander, and Executive Director. He was honored to write speeches for the Air Force’s first female 4-star General Janet Wolfenbarger (now retired). Tyler enthusiastically volunteered for an assignment to Officer Training School where he served as a Flight Commander and Instructor. He directly trained approximately 150 newly commissioned Air Force Officers and presented leadership lessons to several thousand others. He published a book sharing his insights on leadership called “Leadership Yourself” and for fun created a progressive adult coloring book called “Level Up!“
While assigned at OTS, Tyler deployed to Headquarters US Central Command. Tyler earned the prestigious Master Instructor Badge from Air Education and Training Command (AETC); an award given to only the top 5% of AETC instructors.
Tyler and his bride Andrea have eight children and reside in Alabama.