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Coloring for Adults: What's Behind the Craze?

Updated on September 29, 2015
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I am Diane Brown, an artist and illustrator living in Texas. I enjoy all phases of the creative process. Enjoy!

People from all walks of life have embraced the coloring phenomenon

The Adult Coloring Craze!

You would have to be living under a rock to not have heard or seen reports on the incredible popularity of coloring for adults. Coloring books for adults have exploded onto the market and have gained a spot on the list of most popular books published in the recent past. The question is, what has made this activity so popular, and why have adults embraced it so wholeheartedly?

The answer to this question is probably a combination of things. One, certainly, is nostalgia. Aging baby boomers and adults of all generations are nostalgic for their youth, a time (from their perspective) that was simpler, less demanding, less "connected" to technology. These adults remember coloring as a child as being a fun, quiet activity. Over-stressed adults yearn for a way to relax and unplug from a world of constant demands on their time and attention.

Another possible part of this great coloring revolution is creativity. While the image is provided to the person doing the coloring, how and what to color is left entirely to the individual. Our modern world bombards us with images, but leaves us with little outlet for our own unique spin on what we see. Adult coloring allows the participant to express his or her own aesthetic within the confines of the blank coloring page.

Studies have shown that the activity of coloring does have a health benefit for most individuals. Both heart rate and blood pressure drop when engaged in this activity.

Coloring in Groups Fosters Community

Coloring in groups is a great way to strengthen the bonds between people in the community. These groups are usually organized by local institutions (libraries, community centers, etc.), and are currently very well attended. These get-togethers are easy to host, with minimal investments of time or money. These gatherings are uniquely enjoyable because little is demanded of the participants. There are no instruction requirements (everyone knows how to color!), nor do the participants feel pressured to socialize in the traditional sense. Conversation is optional. This makes an event like this perfect for the shy, introverted person who wishes to extend his/her social network.

What makes a good coloring page image?

You only need to look around the bookstore or on Amazon to see the abundance of coloring books for adults. There are several niches that are readily apparent. One is the garden theme, with many images of intricate floral gardens. Another popular theme is animals, birds, and insects rendered with fanciful designs on their wings, fur, etc. A third, very popular genre is the nonrepresentational mandala type of illustration that consists of a circular design incorporating repeating shapes.

The common denominator of all of these popular designs is their complexity. The coloring sheet for an adult must be much more intricate than the usual coloring page designed for children. Adults require more complexity to keep their interest level high.

Example Coloring Page

This drawing has adequate complexity and realism to satisfy adults who color.  "Sea Turtle" pen and ink, copyright Rural Girl Graphics.
This drawing has adequate complexity and realism to satisfy adults who color. "Sea Turtle" pen and ink, copyright Rural Girl Graphics.

Final Thoughts

The popularity of coloring for adults is undeniable. What this phenomenon means is up for debate. What is apparent is that this activity fills a need in people to express their creativity in a quiet, peaceful atmosphere. It is clear that today's adults yearn to reconnect with simple, productive pastimes with little or no interference from modern technology. This coloring craze is, I believe, here to stay. It provides artists with a fertile ground to produce meaningful, beautiful, and engaging art to satisfy this burgeoning market for imagery.

I encourage you to explore the experience of coloring for adults. When done either alone or in a group, I think you'll find it is a fun and relaxing way to connect to and enrich your inner life.

A Question

Have you joined the Adult Coloring Craze?

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