I now do it while waiting in the doctor’s office or at the car repair shop. After four decades hiding my passion in the closet, I’m doing it in broad daylight. We have come a long way, baby—coloring for adults is now legal! To paraphrase Barbara Mandrell’s 1981 hit country song, I was coloring before coloring was cool.
I was stunned when I first noticed signs at Michaels Arts & Crafts and Barnes & Noble Bookstore last year advertising coloring books for adults. “What?” I thought, “Is this for real?!”
Not that I don’t enjoy doing the Disney-theme coloring books, but working the current adult versions with intricate illustrations makes me feel, well, like an adult. But, wait, the task is not made simple because there is a plethora of coloring books to choose from, such as books of mandalas, flowers, animals, mystical, nature. The selections are infinite. Some are quite involved and the details can be very small, which is why we need gel pens and good eyeglasses.
This brings me to the next challenge—selecting coloring pencils. This is harder than it used to be. We now have bright, watercolor, gel, pastel, intense and soft coloring pencils from several makers. Of course, why should this be simple? I’m sure some of you out there are wondering how I managed to make these decisions, some of the hardest in my life.
Thankfully, public libraries are joining in the trend by offering mini-workshops where adults get together to color for about an hour or so on a Saturday. The library provides all the materials. The participants offer fellowship. I know what you are thinking, that you have so many errands to run that you don’t have time to color. Think again.
Focusing on coloring reduces sensory overload—the distress that partially comes from a fast pace of life. The keyword is focus. This means no TV, no phones, no computer—in other words—no technology. Neurologists argue that coloring may improve cognitive abilities, such as memory, decision-making and problem-solving skills, by enhancing the firing of neurons in the pre-frontal cortex. (I can use all the help I can get in my pre-frontal cortex).
And consider this, if Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, can find time to color, so can you. I read that the “Secret Garden,” illustrated by Scottish artist Johanna Basford, is the duchess’ favorite coloring book. (Guess which book I’m getting next.)
Coloring is about expressing ourselves through color. Thus, let us review what art therapists tell us about the meanings associated with colors. Pink is associated with femininity, while red may imply passion or anger. Blue is associated with a sense of peace and spirituality, while green may imply growth and nature. Purple is associated with royalty and wealth, and black tends to imply feelings of loss.
Creativity is a wonderful and healthy way to cope with loss, not just the big losses in our lives, but our multiple everyday losses, such as saying goodbye to a neighbor who is moving miles away or losing one’s ability to drive. You get the drift.
Maybe you didn’t have a good day at work, or maybe you fell down and hurt your knee, or perhaps the car didn’t start this morning. These are the times that I reach out to my coloring book to center myself. If this is something you can identify with, I would be eager to hear from you and explore the possibility of forming a coloring book club for adults. Let’s make coloring a New Year’s resolution!