Daniel Mitsui  ~  Coloring Books




COLORING BOOKS from ORIGINAL ARTWORK by
DANIEL MITSUI





I am the artist and author of a series of coloring books published by Ave Maria Press. These are marketed as coloring books for adults, but I hope that they will be enjoyed by both adults and children; my own kids like them, and I think they would be put to good use in religious education classes and Catholic schools. I do not think that there ought to be two different types of coloring books, one with sophisticated artwork for adults and one with insipid artwork for children; I think that everyone, no matter what age, deserves detailed, challenging artwork.

I believe that a true restoration of sacred art can only begin if there is a widespread participation in it by both professionals and amateurs. The popularity of adult coloring is, to me, an encouraging sign; too many adults have the idea that art is an activity for children, and that they are incapable of improving their own ability to draw. But drawing is an attainable skill; anyone who can write his name legibly can learn to do it. Coloring books are a fine, unintimidating way to prompt artistic activity among people of all ages and all levels of current ability.

Please see also the coloring sheets that I have made available for free download.

MYSTERIES of the ROSARY
The SAINTS
CHRISTIAN LABYRINTHS
ORDERING INSTRUCTIONS & GENERAL INFORMATION



MYSTERIES of the ROSARY



Mysteries of the Rosary: An Adult Coloring Book was published by Ave Maria Press in 2016. It measures 8 1/2" × 11" and contains thirty coloring pages: reproductions of three larger drawings of the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries; fifteen pages with individual mysteries surrounded by decorative or symbolic borders; and detail images of the four Major Prophets, the four great Latin Church Fathers and the four winged creatures representing the Evangelists.

You can purchase a signed copy of the coloring book from me for $9.95.

Price including shipping:



This is my introduction to the book:
Catholic tradition maintains that the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary was given to St. Dominic by the Blessed Virgin in the thirteenth century. The devotion became especially popular in the late fifteenth century, following the preaching and writing of the Dominican Alanus de la Roche. The first Rosary Confraternities were founded, and the first devotional books dedicated to the Holy Rosary were circulated. These included both illuminated manuscripts and books made on the newly-invented printing press.

By that time, the Holy Rosary had attained its familiar modern form: 150 recitations of the Ave Maria, divided into 15 decades, each preceded by a recitation of the Pater Noster. Each decade was associated with an event in the life of Jesus or Mary. The selection of events varied somewhat; for example, some of the faithful prayed the Last Judgment as the final mystery, others the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin. Certain works of art from the late fifteenth century illustrate events that correspond exactly to the now-familiar Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries.

This coloring book is formatted to resemble one of the early devotional books dedicated to the Holy Rosary. A German volume printed in 1483, which surrounds each illustrated Mystery with a border of ten roses, was an especially strong influence on its design.

The illustrated mysteries are taken from a series of three large (9" × 12") drawings that I made in 2011. The original works I drew in ink of calfskin vellum; these are now held in a private collection. Many of the decorative borders and ancillary pictures are taken from other drawings, rearranged into the compositions here in the manner of printers’ blocks; all of the artwork originally came from own hand.

DM




The SAINTS



The Saints: An Adult Coloring Book was published by Ave Maria Press in 2016. It measures 8 1/2" × 11" and contains thirty coloring pages, each featuring a different saint. These are based on drawings in a variety of styles. The Blessed Virgin Mary, John the Baptist, Peter and Paul are included, as are less familiar saints such as Gobnait and Drogo of Sebourg.

You can purchase a signed copy of the coloring book from me for $9.95.

Price including shipping:



This is my introduction to the book:
The images in this book are details from ink drawings that I made to illustrate the lives of saints. Some of the decorative borders and lettering are taken from other drawings and rearranged into the compositions here, but all of the artwork originally came from own hand.

As an artist, my preference is to draw saints from the Apostolic age, the age of the Fathers, and the Middle Ages. The task here is to construct an iconographic likeness of the holy man or woman - a different (and to me at least, more interesting) task than to represent a physical likeness known from photographs or portrait paintings.

When drawing saints who lived after Biblical times, I refer to the traditional hagiographies, those wonderful accounts of their miracle-filled lives. The Golden Legend is usually the first reference book that I pull off my shelf. It is a thirteenth-century encyclopedia of saints’ lives compiled from liturgical lectionaries and patristic writings. It represents the entire tradition better than any other single book.

When I first read The Golden Legend, I was impressed by the enormous wealth of information, and by the intellectual seriousness with which its compiler, Blessed Jacobus de Voragine, approached his task. He readily admits when a story is based on a doubtful source, or when different versions of it exist. Yet his attitude to the hagiographies is generous; he gives them the benefit of doubt whenever possible.

This starkly contrasts the attitudes of so many Christians of modern times, which are derisive, dismissive, or at best patronizing. It is cute, they may say, to draw St. Brendan celebrating Mass on the back of a whale, but of course we know that that didn’t really happen. Well, really? We do? What evidence is there against it? This is a very strange assertion for those who professes faith in an omnipotent God and in His revealed Word.

For St. Brendan’s whale is no less plausible than Jonah’s; the miracles of St. Nicholas are no more fantastic than the miracles of Elijah. The dragon defeated by St. Sylvester is no stranger than the dragon defeated by Daniel (a demonically-possessed crocodile would fit the description of either, although heraldic dragons are more fun to draw). No hagiography is stranger than the stories of the Old Testament and the stories of the New. What could be stranger than the Resurrection of Jesus Christ?

Of course, the Resurrection is an article of faith, something that a Christian is simply not permitted to disbelieve, and the words of the Old and New Testaments are inerrant; hagiographies are not (as Blessed Jacobus would be the first to admit). But our attitude toward the legends of the saints reveals and affects our attitude toward God, toward His creation, and toward His revelation.

We either live in a world in which these sort of things happen, or we do not.

DM




CHRISTIAN LABYRINTHS



Christian Labyrinths: A Celtic Coloring Book was published by Ave Maria Press in 2017. It measures 9" × 12" and contains thirty coloring pages. Some of these display labyrinths that connect different scenes from the Old and New Testaments; others spell out the Pater Noster in stylized block letters; others imitate the cruciform carpet pages in early medieval manuscripts. There are two different puzzle challenges in the book: that of finding a single deliberate mistake in the ornament on each page; and that of deciphering a coded message at the end.

You can purchase a signed copy of the coloring book from me for $10.95.

Price including shipping:



This is my introduction to the book:
One of the most distinctive and beautiful styles of Christian art flourished in Irish and Northumbrian monasteries from the sixth to the ninth centuries. The style is usually called Celtic, although some of its finest examples were made by Saxons. It is notable especially for its intricate, labyrinthine patterns of knots, spirals, keys and animals.

Its greatest masterpieces are sacred manuscripts, such as the Lindisfarne Gospels and the Book of Kells. Although this style of art fell into disuse, the surviving manuscripts continued to be held in the highest esteem. In 1185, Gerald of Wales wrote: You will make out intricacies so subtle and delicate, so exact and compact, so full of knots and links, with colors so fresh and vivid, that you might say that all this was the work of an angel, and not of a man.

Today, Celtic knots remain popular decorations, although they are more commonly encountered on knickknacks than in churches. I want to reconnect this style to the purpose that occasioned its greatest works: not to decorate bits of paddywhackery, but to honor the Holy Gospel.

A different tradition of Christian art places labyrinths on the floors of churches, usually at a large enough scale that their paths can be walked. This kind of labyrinth was inherited from Classical culture and given new use and meaning by the early Christians. In some churches, the labyrinth is a symbol of escape from the spiritual death of sin; in others, the center represents a destination of pilgrimage, such as Jerusalem. The most famous examples are in the Gothic cathedrals at Chartres, Reims and Amiens.

In recent years, there has been a revival of labyrinth-walking, whose promoters are influenced by New Age spirituality. This has made some Christians leery of labyrinths altogether. My belief is that labyrinths are well-established within the artistic tradition of orthodox Christianty, and that they only become dangerous if taken out of their rightful context and assigned some dubious mystical meaning in themselves.

My intention is to restore Christian labyrinths to their rightful context: biblical, patristic and liturgical, the same that they had in illuminated manuscripts and in Gothic cathedrals. I hope to demonstrate that the beauty, the mystery and indeed the fun of these things properly belong to orthodox Christianity.

In this book, I have taken inspiration from both the manuscript and architectural traditions. All of the illustrations and ornamental elements I designed myself, first drawing them by hand in ink on calksin or paper.

DM





all works copyright Daniel Mitsui / danmitsui at hotmail dot com