The adult coloring craze! According to Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coloring_book, 2012 and 2013 was
when adult coloring books began to be successful.
But it would be 3 years later that their popularity just exploded! And believe it or not, yours truly even published a coloring book in 2012 just before it became popular titled, “Coloring for the Joy of It” (discussed later).
Some may say the trend is “dead” or flattened out. But in the course of my travels, people are still coloring and showing me their pictures with pride.
This article will discuss some of the benefits of coloring and provide suggestions for choosing a book along with six great adult coloring books on the market for your consideration.
Also, if you’re an artist reading this, I’ll discuss how coloring may benefit you as well if you haven’t already tried it.
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Why is Coloring So Popular?
When adult coloring first came into popularity, it soared so quickly that it seemed like surely it would be just a fad that would fade away in time. Well, although it may be no longer “trending”, I think adult coloring is still popular.
But why? What is so appealing about coloring?
The Benefits of Coloring
Well for one thing, it is widely marketed as and known to be stress-relieving and relaxing. There have been studies that seem to bear that out and some say it can even reduce anxiety as well.
Particularly, there seems to be more potential for this with mandala designs from what I’ve read. I can’t say for sure about that claim, but there’s plenty of information regarding the studies on the internet if you would like more detailed info on that.
What I can say with certainty is, for many folks, adult coloring is a very relaxing and creative activity.
It’s fun as all get-out, too!
There is just something so peaceful about moving the pencil or other coloring utensil back and forth on the paper. It feels soothing and zen-like.
My guess is the repetitive nature of moving the pencil around tends to help us unwind, kind of like the repetition of crocheting or knitting.
Certain colors can be energizing or soothing.
Reds, oranges and yellows are bold and be a nice pick-me-up. Blues, lavenders and greens can be very calming to look at.
Colors can also be just plain pretty to look in general, too. (For more on how to choose colors, be sure to read my post on the Color Wheel and Color Theory basics.)
Also, I think it hearkens us back to our childhoods when life was simpler, where coloring was fun and expressive. Did anyone really NOT like to color?
Even if you weren’t artistic, you could still color and make something very pretty or stunning in your coloring book.
And you most likely had great satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment as a child making an attractive coloring.
Well, frankly, it’s no different as an adult. We all love the feeling of accomplishment, am I right?
And completing a coloring is a fair amount of work, I must say, and you should feel that a sense of accomplishment!
My class participants loved being able to practice the techniques learned in my colored pencil classes in my coloring book. (For tips on colored pencils, check out my post, Basic Colored Pencil Techniques). Indeed, coloring can get more sophisticated artistically if you know how to shade and blend!
My book was initially inspired by a sweet lady in one of my classes who asked back in 2011, “Is there such a thing as a coloring book for adults?” At the time, google results produced next to nothing–either a few pages or “x-rated” “adult” coloring books! Then, a light bulb went off in my head to create one, and I self-published, “Coloring for the Joy of It” in 2012.
To sum up, once adults realized it was fun, relaxing and NOT childish to color, so many people jumped on board the coloring train and now enjoy coloring as a hobby or pastime (just as they did when they were kids).
The initial surge may have “plateaued” but it sure seems as though it is here to stay.
Choosing a Quality Coloring Book
Choose Inspiring designs – choose designs, themes or subjects you like or you could get bored easily
Quality thicker paper – that will accept brush pens without bleeding through and won’t tear easily
(Read my post for advice about best watercolor brush pens that are fine to use in most coloring books)
Designs on just one side of page – to allow for removal and framing (if that’s important to you) and not be wasting a design on the other side
Perforated pages – to allow for ease of removal, if you wish
Some bigger design spaces – to allow for some shading and blending if desired. Avoid designs with a gazillion tiny spaces, that would just be an exercise in tedium!
Avoid heavy black lines – they may distract from the beauty of your work and just, well, look awful.
Tip: If you coloring book has larger areas in the background and you’d like ideas to fill it in, check out my post “How to Create Background in Drawings”
6 Great Book Choices
I’m sure you will have no problem finding a coloring book you would like in your local arts and crafts store. But in case you need a few suggestions, here are some books that are worth taking a look at.
Birdtopia Coloring Book by Daisy Fletcher
70 pages fill this coloring book that features all kinds of birds from all over the world mixed with flowers and other plants life, too. 12 1/4″ x 9 1/2″ size.
Fantastic Planet: A Coloring Book of Amazing Places Real and Imagined by Steve McDonald
If you love all things nature, then this book may be just what your’e looking for with a variety of different settings, from deserts to jungles to underwater life, trees, flower fields and even some mandalas too. Pages are bigger – 11 3/4” x 11 1/2”, 60 pages.
The Flower Year: A Coloring Book by Leila Duly
If you love flowers during all seasons – this was created for you! 104 pages to color will keep you busy as you enjoy coloring flowers as they go through the seasons. Illustrations also incorporate butterflies, birds and more to round out each picture. 9′ x 7′. This book is hard-covered and you will love the amazing price, too. Check it out!
Just Add Color Series Coloring Book by Lisa Congdon, Sarah Walsh and Jenn Ski.
This is a series of coloring books offering different themes. The above link will take you to a selection called
Just Add Color Series Coloring Book – Mid-Century Modern Animals
Birds of Paradise: A Therapeutic Coloring Book for Adults by Lorna Scobie
Another great book to get your fill of birds! This 96 page book contains bird drawings and patterns galore on 40+ pages and includes metallic stickers as well. Size is 9 3/4″ x 8″.
Please note, if the design being on one side and removing is a priority to you, the last three would be your best bet since they specifically stated that in the description.
Do Artists Color?
So, if you’re an artist reading this and haven’t tried coloring, was it because you thought, well, it’s beneath you? Or maybe couldn’t possibly benefit from it in any way so why waste the time?
Or, are you thinking, if other artists aren’t coloring, then you shouldn’t either?
– It’s a great way to practice your techniques – blending, shading, different strokes, etc.
– A coloring book is a great place (and a fun way) for you to try out a new brand of colored pencil or brush pen set and get used to its characteristics before going to your professional art surface.
– A coloring book is also a great place to try out your color mix ideas.
– Sometimes, you may not have the time to draw a design, using a coloring book is a great way for you to get in some color practice without needing to draw too.
– At times, we can get so busy with other life commitments that we don’t have much time for art creation. Coloring can prevent us from getting “rusty” during those art “droughts”. It’s like going for a walk if you don’t have time to go to the gym.
Relaxation and Fun
– It’s a great way to relax and get the creative juices flowing if you’re feeling stressed and need to get your head in the right place to do art – kind of like a “warm up” if you will; like stretching before strenuous exercise.
– Last but not least – It’s just plain fun to do! For me as a professional artist/instructor, I consider coloring a hobby or pastime of mine.
Sometimes, it’s just fun to color without the pressures that comes with creating fine art to sell or doing a commission.
Adult Coloring Books Are Here to Stay
My opinion is that adult coloring books are here to stay. The trend may have leveled off for sure. But people find coloring to be a wonderfully enjoyable pastime and a way they can express themselves artistically. Also, with life being more stressful than ever, you can’t beat the relaxation of the activity.
What is your favorite thing about coloring? And do you have a favorite coloring book? Please let us know in the comment box below. Your email address will not be published.
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Have a colorful day!