Not Just for Six Year Olds! (or, On Coloring Books and Why I Love Them)

Finished mandala from Color Your Mandala by Cassandra Lorius

It’s official.  Coloring books for grownups have become A Thing.  Try a web search for “adult coloring books”, and you’ll get over 3 million results (and most of them aren’t even naughty!).  News sources like the Associated Press and Huffington Post have been noticing with articles like this one here.  Joanna Basford  has been getting a lot of credit for starting a new trend. Her Enchanted Forest and Secret Garden are bestsellers (and rightfully so!), but to some of us, coloring for grownups is not new. Not new at all.

I started doing the “grownup coloring” thing years ago. I was newly married, stressed out by a difficult job and toxic workplace, and worried about money. I used to spend a lot of time online looking up random information that I thought might be of use to my writing (instead of actually writing).  I was reading one day about mandalas and came across a free, printable “color your own mandala” page, so I downloaded it. I colored it and found it to be truly relaxing -- the best de-stresser I’d found.  And I liked the end result enough that I made a cover for my journal out of it.

I found quite a few other places online with downloadable, printable pages.  It became a relaxing, satisfying way to keep my hands busy. Most of the places I found free resources were either from “coloring therapy” sites or from more New Age, meditation-oriented pages.  Both made total sense to me.  The repetitive motion and gentle focus of coloring a picture are wonderful for calming anxiety, and those same qualities certainly induce a meditative feeling.

From Color Your Mandala

These days, I sit with a coloring book pretty regularly.It’s a good way for me to take a break from a difficult piece of wire work; when I shift my focus from whatever’s frustrating me in my work to the simple pleasure of coloring in shapes, I find that I can come back to my workbench with a clearer perspective of the problem at hand and work out a solution.  

Coloring provides a different kind of creative outlet for me than wire work or writing.  It’s not something I feel any need to show to anybody else -- it’s always just for me. It feels whimsical and comforting, with zero pressure to “get it right.”  But it also enhances my other creative endeavors.  I sometimes choose a coloring page that has shapes I want to incorporate into a jewelry piece, and I can experiment with color combinations to create different effects.  Story ideas, too, just sort of “happen” when I’m coloring, or I’ll have a little flash of insight into how I want a character or plot to develop.

Plus, it’s just plain fun.

Finished Mandala from Color Your Mandala

And, as always, I’m curious:  do you color?  If you’re interested in trying it out, check out these pages:



Yay for coloring books! I

Yay for coloring books! I also love the look, the feel, the smell of a brand new box of crayons (and they have to be Crayola).

Yay, indeed!

It's the smell of childhood and snowy weekend afternoons. Give me hot chocolate and a fuzzy blanket with my coloring book, and I might as well be a six year old again!

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