Color Outside the Lines

A new adult coloring book from Penny Candy Books benefits a popular local arts education center.

by Garrett Davis

Color inside the lines, our elementary school teachers would say. Draw a butterfly, a house. The childlike lure of zoning out with a handful of markers still draws us in, based on the massive popularity of adult coloring books over the last couple of years. (Don’t lie, you want one—or already partake.)

Becoming actively involved in art changes the dynamic of the creative process, a concept seen between the lines in Tiffany McKnight’s abstract, bold and intricate adult coloring book, NUVEAU: The Future of Patterns. Half of the book’s profits will benefit SixTwelve, the already-storied community education center in the heart of the Paseo District.

“NUVEAU is different from the old ‘color by numbers’ phenomenon. That didn’t involve the elements of free will or choice, as Tiffany’s artwork does,” explained Chad Reynolds, co-founder of the book’s publisher, Penny Candy Books. “[Tiffany] is inviting you to actively play a role in...deciding how the pattern will ultimately look.”

Amy Young, the founder and executive director of SixTwelve, spearheaded the creation of NUVEAU. In 2010, Young discovered a ramshackle two-story apartment building and decided to restore the space into a hub for learning a week before the building was set for demolition. Enter McKnight.

“When I bought the building in 2010, I already knew I wanted her work in the building because she loves Art Nouveau as much as I do,” Young said.

The duo struck a chord while studying art at the University of Oklahoma. After her purchase of the SixTwelve building, Young commissioned McKnight to design Nouveau-inspired wallpaper (an echo of popular, symmetrically-patterned art influenced by elements in nature) with the help of Ketch Design Centre.

Chad Reynolds wanted to publish children’s drawings hung at SixTwelve when McKnight’s wallpaper was brought up. Lightbulb. What followed was a coloring book of 15 designs, which dance between the boundaries of African textiles and Neo-Art Nouveau. The pages are also perforated, encouraging artists to display their finished work.  

“This isn’t art that’s static," Reynolds said. “It’s dynamic. It breaks itself out of its own book. The notion of the perforated pages...breaks down the barriers of the viewer, the participant, the art and the artist.”

Although Young recently has been awarded the Paseo Volunteer of the Year award and her organization continues to gain prominence, McKnight hopes to additionally promote SixTwelve’s operations through NUVEAU.

Artist Tiffany McKnight

“I think it’s going to be a great opportunity to show people in the community that SixTwelve not only does workshops for children and urban gardening for the community, but they’re also willing to employ and invest in artists that can enhance a space,” McKnight said.

McKnight’s modernized designs act as a psychedelic slide into a pool of ever changing movement. Readers will discover that adding color to the vast maze of NUVEAU will offer an inner reflexive experience that breaks the traditional definition of “artist.” Plus, it’s all for a good cause.

“Universally, people like patterns, finding meaning and beauty, and they like truth,” Reynolds said. “And if you like all of those things, you’re going to love Tiffany’s book.”

The newly launched Penny Candy Books and its imprint Penelope Editions plans to partner with a nonprofit annually.

Sharpen your coloring pencils because advance copies of NUVEAU: The Future of Patterns will be available on December 2 at SixTwelve during the First Friday on the Paseo. The full run is available January 10th.

SixTwelve, 612 NW 29th St. sixtwelve.org + pennycandybooks.com