The recent explosion of coloring options for adults does not surprise me one bit. Coloring books for adults, sometimes pricey coloring options, seem an overnight sensation. However, many of us have known for a long time, coloring is not just for children. But saying that, I am amazed at the variety of options I see in stores and on websites. In a recent trip I made to Barnes and Noble, as well as a trip to Walmart, I saw adult coloring books with religious and spiritual pages to color, coloring books with a variety of nature options, including one just on birds and one just featuring flowers, and coloring books with a host of other themes.
I think I know some reasons why coloring books are enjoyable for some adults. We can remember coloring as children, moving a crayon around on the pages changing dull backgrounds to bright colorful one. Beyond recreation, many of us colored worksheets dutifully in schools and during our religious instruction as we tried to learn concepts. As parents, some of us sat with our children and held conversations about what would be a good color to use for a variety of objects. To me, coloring is entrenched in childhood memories, my own and my daughter’s. The honest truth is, I just like to color, and I think there are other folks like me.
Those in the coloring “industry” are using their marketing to entice us back to a less stressful time. Many adult coloring books advertise their “calming” influence. As a matter of fact, it is not unusual for college counselors to encourage stressed out students to go to the web and get a few intricate pages to color as a stress reliever. I am not naïve enough to think coloring can take care of problems or make stress go away, but I do think a few minutes just concentrating on something that is not graded and critiqued must feel good to a college student.
I admit I have colored in times of stress. Twenty two years ago while cleaning out my sister Alison’s house after she had passed away, I came across a stash of coloring books. My sister had health problems, and she was often at home trying to fill her time. Her coloring books were of the Dollar Store variety, but each page she colored was very pretty. I spent some time looking through the pages. I remembered the last day she and I sat down side by side and spent some time coloring. I soon found myself getting out that box of 64 crayons and beginning to color. Coloring that day was calming, joyful, and fun even though it was shadowed by sadness. I found some peace in the stillness of a room moving a crayon around on paper.
So when I see all the adult options to color, I smile. I can see some folks laughing at the simplicity of using coloring to cope or to have fun. However, I think those of us who remember a happier time, and maybe even a calmer time, may seek comfort and pick up a crayon.