All the credit for inspiring this post goes to my “Outer Circle” friend Pat, who piqued my interest in learning about the Adult Coloring Book genre. (Who knew it existed? Not I. Now I do.)
A quick check of Amazon and other sites revealed a myriad of themed adult coloring books to complement a wide variety of adult interests. A common thread in the advertising message: coloring helps to reduce adult stress.
Although I have never owned (nor thought to own) an adult coloring book, reading about them reminds me of the paint- and color-by-number drawings I enjoyed doing as a teen, and my mother did later in life in retirement. In fact, come to think of it, I still have one of my mother’s paint-by-number drawings adorning a wall. I had forgotten she had done those, finding one after she died.
Eighteen days (who’s counting!) into retirement, I admit that at this moment, the idea of being constrained by any predetermined limits (as in: color within these lines) feels unduly stressful, no matter how much stress it purports to relieve. I think I’ll pass on Adult Coloring Books for today; who knows for tomorrow.
On the other hand, looking into the Adult Coloring Book market reminded me of another type of “coloring book”—one I had totally forgotten about–that does appeal to me! It’s the kind of “coloring book” I was introduced to about eight years ago, thanks to a PTA mini-grant for our elementary school library.
Always on the lookout for different kinds of writing prompts and visual formats to spur students’ creativity to express their reader-responses (including via art), I was totally captivated by a “coloring book” that offered inviting prompts, both written scenarios and artistic background fields and contexts. Some pages were more generic than others, giving me a sense that students (and now we adults) could write or draw within the provocative spaces in response to many different kinds of stories or circumstances.
Although I didn’t realize it at the time I purchased a couple of the titles, in doing research for this post, I was surprised to learn that these particular “coloring books” have a long history of popular success going back to 1978. Maybe you were blessed to use them as a child—or to share them with your own or other children!
Even though these “coloring books” have been marketed to children, I have every confidence that adults—particularly those in transition (e.g. retirement) will find the relaxation benefit of the coloring activity, plus the catharsis benefit of expressing thoughts and feelings creatively in response to prompts. In that way, the exercises can serve as a kind of artsy journal or diary. (Adult reviews for these titles corroborated my thinking.)
If you think you’re up for coloring both in- and out- side the lines; if you’d like some prompts with room to respond in your own way (sometimes surprising yourself by what you think and how you create and relate), you might enjoy the innovative “coloring book” I’m so partial to—drum roll!—
The Anti-Coloring Book by Susan Striker and Edward Kimmel
True, with its open-ended, creativity-evoking responses, it will put both sides of your brain to work, but in non-taxing, satisfying kind of way that–I pray, since I’m recommending this kind of coloring book–will reduce stress as effectively as does the conventional pre-determined what-, where-, how-to-color coloring book.
(I hope this makes sense. If not, please check out the description of the Anti-Coloring Books on the author’s site. Incidentally, I noticed there’s an app version, too, in case you relax better digitally.)
No matter which kind of coloring book you prefer (traditional coloring or anti-coloring), have fun—no apologizing to anyone of any age. Coloring ain’t just for kids anymore. Color your stress away. That’s the latest word!
Speaking of coloring: color me sorry for not knowing about this phenomenon sooner, and color me happy that retirement is opening me up to some many new adventures, even if some of them feel like a step back into childhood. ..Hey, that’s a good thing! Plus this coloring craze isn’t crazy (as were some of the other childhood fads we might remember!). Another good thing is having hip (or—better: hep) “Outer Circle” friends. Thank you, Pat! Color me lucky.
‘Fess up. Do you spend time relieving stress thanks to a coloring book? Think you might even give anti-coloring a whirl?