Coloring Books are the big ‘thing’ these days.
I loved coloring as a child, and the Crayola box of 72 with the sharpener and the book of ideas was one of my favorite things… right along with my Spirograph. I used this set until there were nothing but little stubs left!
I was an only child and I had a lot of time by myself, so coloring was a common pastime. I would sit for hours and color away. A new coloring book was a huge treat for me and would keep me occupied for weeks.
In my teens I found Dover Publications and even back then they had coloring books that were more intricate than the normal ones you found at the five and dime stores. They also had paper crafting books that I loved…but that is a subject for another post!
These days Dover is just one of many that publish coloring books, but they still have an awesome selection of all sorts of books.
Coloring as a life-long hobby.
My fascination with coloring continued into my adult years. I would search out the few available selections in the bookstore ‘art’ sections (remember, there was no internet when I was young) and at one time I had every book I could find. For a while, I got away from coloring, but when I was pregnant with my first child at 23, I found myself drawn back to it – it calmed me and I would color for hours at a time. Of course at that point, (1983) I had given up crayons and began using colored pencils and markers. I loved geometric designs and flowers, but I also had books of real life animals and objects for variety.
Those few people who knew I enjoyed coloring thought me a bit odd, but that was somewhat normal for me. Being an only child, I had always been a bit ‘different’ than my peers, so it didn’t stop me. Although I didn’t tell a lot of people about it because they did look at me like I had two heads at times when I did.
So the baby came and I didn’t color much as I was much too busy raising children and working. However I never lost my love of it and would come back to it from time to time. The books and markers always remained part of my book collection through the years.
When I was diagnosed with cancer several years ago, I began coloring again. It again helped me stay calm and kept my mind and hands occupied through a difficult physical time when I couldn’t do other things that I loved. People were more accepting of it as I was using it as ‘therapy’, but it was still not looked at as ordinary.
Why do we love coloring? What is the fascination with something we learned to do as children?
So why has this hobby taken a tremendous leap in popularity? Why all of a sudden are coloring books the hottest trend out there?
Currently 5 of Amazon’s top sellers are coloring books. That is pretty amazing when you think about how many books you can find at Amazon.
I don’t need a psychology degree to understand what draws people to coloring. I can tell you from my own heart.
Something we all need these days is ways to decompress and coloring can do that for people who may not have other outlets. Coloring is a way of ‘creating’ even if you are not ‘artistic’. You don’t have to be able to draw, you don’t have to come up with ideas, you just have to fill in the blanks. The very act of coloring is calming as it is a repetitive act, and it takes some concentration to fill in those little tiny spots. Your brain, normally filled with stress and all sorts of worries, turns inward and focuses. It is much like meditation, or it can be if you allow yourself to just be in the moment of colors and lines and leave all your other thoughts behind. It is renewing and relaxing. We all know how bad stress can be for us, even if we don’t know the science behind it, and coloring reduces stress. I’m sure this is why during some of the most stressful parts of my life, I have returned over and over to coloring. I do many other creative things, but this is one I have always gone back to and will continue to keep in my creative arsenal.
While coloring you are also exercising the creative part of your brain – which doesn’t always get much use in the fact oriented society we live in. And you get to do it in a way that has no judgements. There is no right or wrong with coloring, you can do it however you want. You can use crayons, paints, pencils, markers, gel pens, or chalk. You can color a picture with 12 shades of blue or a rainbow of neon or glittery colors. You can color the same picture several times finding new expressions and patterns in each one. You can color the same picture as someone else and it will be a totally unique creation, because you are unique and your creations will reflect that. However you do it, you will have a beautiful finished product that is rewarding to look at, and that can bring feelings of pride and accomplishment.. again, things we don’t always get a lot of in the rest of our daily life.
Coloring can be a solitary pastime, keeping one company during alone time, or it can be communal. You can join with other coloring enthusiasts and color together in social situations, throw a coloring party, or just share finished pieces with each other. Seeing other people’s creations can inspire you to try new mediums, color combinations or styles. In reality, you are collaborating even when you color alone as you are completing the vision of the artist who did the design to color.
Even if you never show the pictures to anyone, the time you spend coloring is not wasted time. In a world where everything we do is supposed to be productive and benefit everyone around you, isn’t it refreshing that there is something you can do that is just for you and there is no one who cares if, how or when you it? Even if you choose to be social with your coloring, in the end, it is just for you. Tape your pictures to the wall, frame them, or put them in a box and never look at them again.. it is totally up to you! Very freeing isn’t it?
In the past couple of years, I have branched out from coloring to an art form called Zentangle and Zentangle inspired art – This is a way of drawing and creating lines in somewhat repetitive fashion and is another form of creativity that has the same effects as coloring. It is even used for therapy by health professionals. Zentangle is normally done in black and white, but it can inspire you to further art and you can even color in some of your creations if you wish.
Recently, I learned how to make some of my own designs to color – How cool is that. Most of the pages I color are from coloring books, or found on Pinterest, but now, I even make my own. Here are a few of my original designs for you to copy and color:
(right click and use ‘save image as’ or ‘save to desktop’)
Please enjoy these designs and if you have never tried coloring, I hope I have inspired you to give it a try!