Would You Like To Color?


How old do you have to be before you find yourself saying, “I’ll show you mine, if you’ll show me yours?” I remember from the vantage point of early childhood, I had an interest in knowing how my skill set at coloring compared with others. From my earliest memories, I remember my resolve to color inside the lines. I wanted to get it right. I wanted the pictures I colored to more closely resemble art rather than a hodgepodge of overlapping colors and an effort at futility.

The attention span of a three year old is fairly limited, but if anything can capture the imagination and attention span of a toddler, a coloring book and box of Crayola’s is a good way to start. I’m not sure I’ve ever met a kid who didn’t have an interest in coloring. Sometimes the challenge is helping them understand the importance of keeping the Crayola on the paper and off the table, floor, or walls.

One of the defining characteristics of my childhood was an interest in arts and crafts. I don’t think it was simply by default because I had absolutely no athletic ability. After all, some could argue, “You’ve got to find something to do”. It was more than that. It was something I really enjoyed doing.

Truthfully, with the exception of tennis (and that came much later), I had absolutely no interest in sports. I couldn’t walk and dribble a basketball. I couldn’t catch a baseball. My ability to connect with the ball when I was holding the bat was non-existent. Don’t even get me started describing my lack of prowess related to football. I never dreamed of making it to the big league. For better or worse, I didn’t want to “play ball”. Truthfully, my disdain for sports was in my best interest. Can you imagine the heartache of wanting to play and not having the capability or skill set?

I hadn’t thought of it in years, but as I completed the previous paragraph, I thought about the “log-like” lamps we use to make out of coffee cans, a couple of toilet paper rolls and a mixture of Plaster of Paris and a light kit. As a nine year old who didn’t make the First State Bank Little League team, I gravitated toward being an entrepreneur peddling plaques, wall hangings and log-like lamps made of Plaster of Paris throughout the neighborhood. From memory, I think the stuff looked pretty good. Yet, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. From the perspective of a nine-year-old, the stuff looked pretty good. For whatever reason, I made a lot and I sold a lot and that’s as close to “sand-lot baseball” as I got.

How long has it been since you wondered how your skill set at coloring compared with others? Adult coloring books (The answer is “No” if you’re thinking that means they aren’t family friendly) – Adult coloring books are becoming increasingly popular. Perhaps that is even more so with baby boomers that have exited “stage right” out of the workplace. However, adults of all ages have taken to coloring.

Maybe the nostalgia and sense of calm associated to rediscovering one’s creative side and artistic abilities is therapeutic. For whatever reason, coloring books for adults has become the new rage. Instead of Crayola’s, colored pencils seem to be the medium of preference, but the complexity and detailed drawings lure the participant into hours of detailed coloring.

There are now parties and gatherings for the expressed purpose of adding a splash of color to coloring books designed for adults. Kristian Wilson expresses it this way, “Coloring books for adults have become the latest trend, and, unlike some fads, this one is actually really good for you. According to clinical psychologist Ben Michaelis, ‘coloring is a stress-free activity that relaxes the amygdala — the fear center of the brain — and allows your mind to get the rest it needs’. But coloring has other indirect health benefits as well. Even if it didn’t make us healthier, many of us would still probably be coloring as adults. It’s true, of course, that the inherent fun of coloring might be linked to its de-stressing properties, but I think the activity’s helpful qualities are really just an added bonus. At the end of the day, coloring is good for you because it’s fundamentally fun”.

The Secret Garden is an interactive coloring book that features delicate and highly detailed pen-and-ink illustrations – all waiting to be brought to life by color. The book, written by Johanna Basford, has sold over two million copies and has been translated into fourteen different languages.

Did I mention that Johanna Basford is really young? She was born in Scotland and grew up in Auchnagatt in Abeerdeenshire. She graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design with a degree in Textile Design in 2005. She continues to live and work in Scotland.

A quick Google search reflected the following from the publisher of The Secret Garden:

“…a coloring book even adults will want to use.” – MaMarthaStewart.com

“There are few art forms as meditative, nostalgic and all-around blissful as the coloring book. Consider trading in your yoga mat for a set of markers and peruse the gorgeous gardens of Basford’s imagination.” – Huffington Post

“Artist Johanna Basford is at the forefront of the grown up coloring trend. Her whimsical artwork just makes us want to drop all our responsibilities and color forever.” – Hello Giggles

“…this book has multigenerational appeal. It’s not just a coloring book, by any means. Some pages have space where the garden is incomplete so kids (and adults) can create a little flora and fauna of their own.” – CoolMomPicks.com

I like the way Ken Fund, CEO of Quarto Publishing Group USA, expresses the interest adults have developed in coloring books designed for them:“I think people are looking for ways to help them keep calm and stress-free,” he says. “These appeal primarily to the female market, but it’s crossed over into the male market, too, with tattoo images, skeletons, Day-of-the-Dead stuff. Part of the appeal is the low-tech nature of the activity. You don’t have to charge batteries as you recharge your soul. No instant messages or ads for discount furniture stores pop up while you’re working. It’s a pleasant, comforting distraction for our media-addled minds”.

This may surprise you, but I’ve got a lot of other reading I want to do before I gravitate to coloring books. But whose to say? One day I may pick up a coloring book and color my way to stress-free living. After all, if it’s “good for the goose, it’s good for the gander”. The General has rediscovered that she likes to color.

All My Best!




2 thoughts on “Would You Like To Color?”

    1. I am going to color outside the lines with my answer. I think it is relaxing because it re-connects the adult with the inner child left behind. For most, childhood is a time of nurture and support. The very act of coloring transforms us back to a time with life was simpler and less complicated. In addition, color adds dimension and creativity.

      Liked by 1 person

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