As someone who studied to be an art teacher, I was wary when the adult coloring book trend hit. I had learned that the best art supply for children was blank paper with crayons or pencils, and I tend to agree. Kids' imaginations run free, and they don't need coloring books.
By the time we're adolescents, though, the idea that we're not good enough to create art has taken hold of most of us, and we stop trying to develop our drawing skills. So most adults feel they can't draw.
You know what? As long as you're happy with your life, drawing isn't a requirement. Adult coloring books bring the joy of using color to you whenever you want, in an already structured environment.
Benefits of this hobby include lowering stress, reducing anxiety, and having your brain enter a meditative state. It's also satisfying to see the results on the detailed pages. Every person's color choices are unique.
I do remember when I was an older kid, I loved coloring with markers on complex posters that were all line art. Back then, psychedelic design still had some commercial presence, so the pages were quite fantastic, with rainbows and unicorns done in a fantastic and not at all ironic way. These posters helped get me through the rough patches in my home life. I also drew my own pictures, but I loved focusing on the little details and juxtapositions of colors.
Adults have greater hand dexterity than children, so grownups can color using markers colored pencils, gel pens, and even paint on their adult coloring pages. They just need to watch for bleedthrough. You can layer colors. You can leave white space. It's your page, and you can do whatever you want!
There's a great economy to it, too, as one coloring book has so much to do it in that it could take up months of the average adult's free time, a commodity most precious. To me, sitting and coloring could rival taking a bath--and takes less time. Having a creative project to pick up and put down really feels good. Perhaps it's like knitting--not something I know how to do.
Coloring book creators such as Joanna Basford are well known. She creates lavish underwater fantasies, secret gardens with Victorian floral flare, and hidden passages. There are also more irreverent ones, such as "Calm the F-- Down," which hits the ironic note so popular today. Men are in it, too--there are books of intricate animal designs by Dan Morris. Creating these books is a great way for artists to showcase their talents.
Choosing colors is a talent and skill, but it's also an intuitive one you may not know you have. There are Web sites that will help you choose a palette. You can pick a premade color collection, or upload a favorite image and click a button to create a palette from the image's colors. you like to create palettes out of them.
Or you can stay low-tech and pick palettes by hand. Even if you DON'T pick colors that officially go together, you're sure to end up with something you could at least say "that's interesting" about. And you don't have to show them to anyone.
Adult coloring books are the ultimate in "me" time. They're a healthy indulgence that's good for the mind. They stimulate creativity. And who knows, maybe they'll lead to you to creating your own designs.
Nancy Robbins is an artist and writer. She has taught drawing to children and adults.