Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

New Year, New Hobby ... Adult Coloring

I don't need a new hobby... craft ... past time ... creative endeavor!  You can use any label ... I don't need it.

But this fall a new past time captured my attention and apparently I am hooked.  And it seems that I am late to the game on this particular activity.

My first completed coloring page.

Adult Coloring

Come on, guys.  You remember coloring - coloring books and wax crayola crayons!!  For me coloring last happened about 60 years ago.  A new coloring book with a fresh box wax Crayola crayons and I was set.  By the time I was 12 years old I had moved on to Barbies.  I never considered for one second that I would cycle back to coloring books and colored pencils at age 68.

My second work in progress

To start with ... these are not your childhood coloring books.  These adult versions of coloring books are works of art in the form of line drawings.  Beautiful drawings ... almost a shame to add anything to them.  As most articles on the subject mention, adult coloring books were not on the merchandising radar 3 years ago.  Now all the books stores, craft stores and even some gift stores carry them.  This holiday season, the adult coloring book displays are mostly empty in my area.  Totally amazing to me.

Prismacolor Premier Pencils.  This isn't the largest set.
But someday I might spring for their biggest selection.
Then there are the coloring tools.  Yes, you can use Crayola crayons if you want, but these adult coloring books are generally not designed for stubby wax crayons.  Color pencils are preferred, or color markers.  As you can see from the samples I have posted here, the pictures are filled with small details.  You need a point to fill them in and wax crayons won't work well for that.  So color pencils or gel markers are almost as remarkable in the complexity of offerings as the coloring books.  And let me tell you, some of those colored pencils sets can be pricey, pricey, pricey.  But oh so pretty.

Johanna Basford's Enchanted Forest
You are seeing the face of the slip cover for this book.

Of course, there are many extra tools that can be used - like blending pencils, and special erasers, and pencil sharpeners and fancy cases to carry your tools.

Here is the actual book - the brown cover with only pen art work on the cover.
Under the book is the inside of the slip cover.
Every detail of these books are beautifully executed.
They are very appealing without adding any color.

And, yes, I have outfitted myself with everything.   I am the "tool queen" when it comes to any hobby.  Anyone who knows me personally will not be surprised.  But you can get started with very little in investment and have a satisfying experience.

But the real question is "Why?"  Why color?  Well, there is a psychology connected to this past time. You can read more about it here in this link.  But from my perspective this is what I know:
  • The most often heard reason is that it reduces stress.  I can confirm that is true!  Just like knitting, mediation or any mindful activity that refocuses and/or distracts your brain - it relaxes the mind.  I can also pick up, do a small bit and easily put it down again. 
  • I love the artistic part of selecting colors and blending them without worrying about the quality of the underlying drawing - I am happy to leave that to the professional artist.  And I am challenged to improve a beautiful artist's black and white rendering by adding color. 
  • Playing with color feeds that area of my brain that I always felt was deficient!  My artistic efforts were always limited to pencil or charcoal.  I could produce a level of realism in a drawing using line and shading.  But when I attempted to layer color onto my own work, it was an epic fail.  This activity allows me to play with color once again.
I struggle with the question of what to do with the completed colored page.  For me a hobby or craft is satisfying when it results in something I can enjoy - a product - something beyond the process of creation. Would I sit down and look at my colored books once they are filled?  Would I frame and hang something I colored on the wall?  The answer is most likely no. 

Recently, however, I came upon some coloring books that seemed to answer that question.   Beyond the simple pleasure of coloring with a child, a fully colored adult book would be a great thing to look at with child - sort of like sharing a picture book.  For example:
  • Coloring books by Johanna Basford - (Secret Garden, Lost Ocean, and Enchanted Forest) have hidden items in each picture.  Kids and adults enjoying hidden object picture books and games.
  • Coloring books by Daria Song - (The Time Chamber, The Time Garden) actually tell a story in pictures - with a small amount of words to flesh out the story.  The artist's pages tell the story of a tiny fairy that lives inside a cockoo clock who has adventures.  A very charming idea presented in a high quality publication - that just happens to be aimed at Adult Colorists.
So I am prepared for a year of coloring - to go with all my other hobbies.  

In fact, coloring is one of two new hobbies for 2016 - beyond knitting, spinning, weaving and coloring ... but that is for another blog post!

So what fun things will fill your new year?


  1. I haven't thought about the new year yet...I guess I should get going on that.

  2. I have never stopped coloring which probably won't surprise you. : )
    I got two new coloring books for Christmas.

  3. I thought you had stopped blogging, turns out your blog is just one of many yahoo mail won't deliver to me. I've subscribed with my gmail account now so hopefully I'll be kept up to date from now on.

    I love adult coloring books. Almost two years ago I bought a mandala coloring book to work on with the oldest granddaughter who is quite the artist. We selected a few of our favorites and decoupaged them onto canvases which we hung. Because she had so much fun I went looking for another coloring book for her a year ago for Christmas and found the Secret Garden. What a joy that book is, so many lovely details that went into the making including the line drawings on the slipcover.

    My daughter-in-law spotted the book and remarked about how she would love one so I purchased a second for her. Did you see there is a Secret Garden post card collection you can color too?

    This year I purchased the Flower Nook which was designed by a fellow blogger ( which is a whimsical book I planned to use to decorate the granddaughter's bedroom with when completed. I've completed a few but already my granddaughter spotted it and pulled out book and pencils to work on a few pages herself this week, she long ago grew out of children's coloring books and is only seven.

    So the funniest thing is that my daughter-in-law having enjoyed the Secret Garden so much bought me an adult coloring book for Christmas. :-) I do agree, they are very relaxing to work on and something I plan to continue to keep on hand.

    1. Hi, Lois. The same thing happened to me with your blog. A few months went by and I didn't remember seeing a post from you in my in-box. So I did a search - you were still blogging but for some reason the link was broken. So I resubscribed! The wonders of the internet!

      My blogging had dropped off dramatically this past year. I think my whole life in 2015 was just one major adjustment after the death of my mom and the transition to non-caregiver status. I find myself blogging a bit more now.

      I do have Secret Garden - and it is a beautiful book as well. In fact, my own daughter gave me coloring supplies and books this Christmas to 'feed' this new hobby of mine. Ha! To be honest, coloring seems almost like a closet activity. People don't talk much about it - and it feels a little funny to be doing it, but when you do talk about it - adult coloring seems more common than you would guess. I have a cousin-in-law who never stopped coloring. I guess she was ahead of the trend!! Far ahead. I personally think it is part of a larger reaction to our fast culture and over dependence on tech- electronics. People are moving back to analogue ways of doing stuff. My Bullet Journal is also part of that 'step back' - away from on line planners and expensive commercial planners. I blogged about that recently. It has helped me greatly the last two month - getting me back to a more productive live.

  4. I love your pictures. I was very lucky to get two new coloring books and pencils for Christmas too!! Fun days ahead for us!! Happy New Year Elaine


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