Have You Been Coloring Lately?  Adult Coloring Books Are Trending

I loved coloring. I can’t ever remember a time when I didn’t color. Sitting on my brick stoop in Brooklyn, usually with a magazine underneath our bottoms, a request by my grandmother who thought it would discourage “dysentery.” Her word, not mine. But, I colored every page, neatly too, rarely going outside the lines. If I did, I’d just extend the picture to match my erring ways.

When I was sick, home for a few days from school, there was no better medicine then a spanking brand-new coloring book and a sharp set of crayons. I would be feeling better in no time, and busy for the long, sniffly afternoons. The neater the coloring, the better I was feeling. When I had my own kids, I brought them coloring books and new crayons for as long as they’d let me. I’d sit beside them, sharing the greens, blues and oranges. I still colored inside the lines, and we sat side by side, my daughters and I, I was in my happy place.

Maria Shriver

A few years ago, I began seeing little coloring books for adults in the book stores. It was like, one day there weren’t any, and now they’re everywhere: arts and crafts shops, book stores, drug stores, five and times, dollar stores. Though adults now, my two daughters each got a few this past Christmas along with fine-tipped, multi-colored sharpies, making those tiny shapes easy to fill.

They are now taking a step forward with the books morphing into new uses, and mediums. Two come to mind: Color Your Mind (A coloring book for those with Alzheimers (and the people who love them) which was recently released by Maria Shriver. It’s a tribute, of sorts, for her deceased father, Sargent Shriver, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2003 and passed in 2011. This book is something she wished was available during her father’s illness, an opportunity for the family to do an activity together. The pages are not simply outlines to color, but offer conversation prompts on eating right, and exercising the body and the mind through memory games.

Kristy Rice

In the Cutting Garden, seasonal watercolor books by Kristy Rice, each page is watercolor paper, thick enough for painting. For Rice, these books “sprouted” from the gardens her father tended while she was growing up. She calls the book, “a safe place,” to discover and perhaps spark watercolor painting in short spurts, whether you have an hour, or five minutes.  Rice provides tips on painting techniques and a suggested supplies list.

These kinds of activity books are nicely packaged, and make great gifts for those who’ve not had a lot of experience coloring in their youth, or wish to remember a simpler time with those who’ve passed on. For me, coloring reminds me of my grandmother, and of being cared for when I wasn’t feel well, and a “go to” activity when bored during long winter nights.  Even in the age of cell phones and the internet, coloring is something my two daughters are drawn to as they maneuver the increasing responsibilities of adulthood. Yes, we could be coloring on a tablet or laptop, but where’s the interaction? You can’t share markers, or have instant hand-created artwork.

In the mental health community, coloring is being compared to meditation for its ability to refocus our thoughts, shut off parts of our brains, and reduce anxiety. In a story on the topic on CNN.com, Marygrace Berberian, a certified art therapist and the Clinical Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator for the Graduate Art Therapy Program at NYU, said, “Coloring definitely has therapeutic potential to reduce anxiety, create focus or bring [about] more mindfulness.”

What it has also done is boost the sales of books at Barnes and Noble who credits the coloring books for profits in the last three quarters of 2016; both WalMart and Target have increased their inventory and devoted valuable shelf space to adult coloring books.

Gee, my grandmother would love this!

Photos by MJ Hanley-Goff

About MJ Hanley-Goff (139 Articles)
MJ Hanley-Goff has been contributing to Woman Around Town since its inception in 2009. She began her career at Newsday in the early 90’s and has continued writing professionally for other New York publications like the Times Herald-Record, Orange Magazine, and Hudson Valley magazine. Former editor of Hudson Valley Parent magazine, she also contributed stories to AAA’s Car & Travel, and Tri-County Woman. After completing her novel and a self-help book, she created MJWRITES, INC. to offer writing workshops and book coaching to first time authors, and college essay writing help to students. MJ is thrilled and honored to write for WAT for the amazing adventures it offers, like reviewing concerts, people, authors, events, and tourist attractions in New York, and around the world. “I enjoy drawing attention to the off-the-beaten path kinds of stories,” she says. “It’s great big world out there, with so many talented and creative artists, doers, and thinkers.”