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Coloring for Grown-Ups (It's Not Just For Kids)

Updated on January 07, 2016

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

-Vincent Van Gogh

Question: What do artists all have in common?

Answer: They were all just kids who never lost their interest in coloring.

And what about you?

Oh, you're not an artist? So? When was the last time you picked up some crayons or colored pencils? Hey, coloring is not just for kids with fat, stubby, thick crayons. If you enjoy coloring, don't shy away from it simply because you haven't had the chance since you were little. Go ahead. Take back that pleasure that comes from filling in pictures. Don't worry, there are a multitude of coloring options for people who have grown out of their footie pajamas or training bra.

Why Should Adults Color?

Because it helps them relax! Concentrating on one section of a project at a time can be considered meditative, and this is how.

When a person concentrates their attention on a particular section of a picture or center of a circle, they organically take less notice of what is happening outside that section or circle. This process produces a general sense of relaxation in their body in the form of deeper breaths and a slower heartbeat. These physiological changes release the body's natural healing processes, and this (in a nutshell) is what meditation is all about.

What Should Adults Color?

Anything their hearts desire. Nothing is off limits. If you can find it, you can color it!

Weeping cherry tree in colored pencil
Weeping cherry tree in colored pencil | Source

Coloring Nature

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

Animals have always been a popular subject for coloring. There’s something about shading in the snarling face of an alligator or the shimmering wings of a hummingbird that never ceases to satisfy.

And it doesn’t stop there. Landscape scenes featuring flowers, trees and shrubs, sand, and different types of rock provide their own tinting challenges as you work to complete them. Create a garden that never requires watering when you choose this type of picture.

Landscape scenes can be found in many styles, as well. To the right is an image of a Japanese print (Ukiyo-e style) from 1832 (still in process), but if you prefer something more modern that will be easy enough for you to locate.

Coloring Geometric Figures

Lines and circles and squares, oh my!

Geometric figures tend to be a very appealing category of drawings for adults who may feel shy about starting to color again. Without realistic shading to "worry" about, this kind of picture is great for both men and women.

Coloring Fruit

Cherries and apples and pears, oh my!

Fancy a bite? Pictures of edible items like fruits and vegetables are also available.

Even wedding cakes have been known to make an appearance in coloring pages. Even if you're not getting married, have a little fun decorating that cake.

Geometric design coloring books
Geometric design coloring books | Source

Repeating drawings consisting of intermingled lines intersecting at points and angles can help someone relax as they follow the lines or shade in sections.

One particularly interesting thing about these types of drawings are that although they can be pretty designs on their own, within the designs themselves are an infinite number of images that could pop out at you as you spend time contemplating the coloring sheet. You could end up with an animal, rainbow, panorama, or anything at all in what was once just a mishmash of swirling lines.

Or, choose circles. The word "mandala" means "sacred circle" and inside that circle is a center spot, which will always attract the eye of an onlooker (or the person doing the coloring).

Focusing on the center spot will help you achieve a naturally calmer state of being, while also ending up with something nice to look at. Seek out coloring books featuring mandalas, or begin at the very beginning and draw your own.

Mandala with markers
Mandala with markers | Source

Coloring Fantasy Pictures

Fairies and goblins and lairs, oh my!

If you prefer the fluttering wings of fairies or the ferocious puffs of fire-breathing dragons to geometry, there is a niche for you too. Elves and other fantastical woodland creatures can also be found.

Or, copy black and white pictures of superheroes if you prefer. Change the emblem on their suits to something more personal, and voila! You, my friend, have just created your alter ego.

Fashion coloring book, circa 1980
Fashion coloring book, circa 1980 | Source

Coloring Historical Prints, Fashion and Architecture

Columns and carpets and stairs, oh my!

If you've ever wanted to choose the colors of Tiffany lamp designs, the fashions of a certain time period, or even the world’s best architecture, this is the category for you.

There are a plethora of historical prints rendered for coloring that are available. And never feel like you must copy the colors to match the original print. You can change the colors of great art masterpieces and make them your own.

Personally, I derive great satisfaction from coloring fashion outfits, but that's just who I am. There are some fabulous coloring books that highlight architecture, which can feel just as fulfilling.

Animal coloring pages in crayon
Animal coloring pages in crayon | Source

Cheap Coloring Books

Because none of us are millionaires, oh my!

And when all else fails, go back to the basics. However, do keep in mind two particular things about less expensive coloring books... the quality and color of paper they are printed on. They are sometimes made of softer, light beige-colored paper that rips easily and may shred if you feel the need to try erasing a mistake.

But don't despair. I was able to find some truly lovely BBC Planet Earth coloring books at my local dollar store, and maybe you can too. Don’t discount a picture because it looks babyish at first glance… with time, patience, and a good set of pencils or crayons you may be surprised what you can create.

Where to Find Good Coloring Books

There are several publishing houses that sell coloring books for adults (for example, Dover Coloring Books) that can help you along on your color journey. You can also find free coloring sheets online, depending what type of design you seek.

Or, consider personalized prints. With very little time or effort invested, you can find a variety of online sites to which you may submit your own pictures. From these, the publisher produces prints or coloring books that you buy.

Alternatively, ask an artistic friend to generate some custom coloring sheets using filters in Adobe Photoshop or another art program. If you’re very lucky, they may be willing to draw you some pictures, too.

Go Ahead, Color Your World

Everyone has some form of stresses in their life, and wouldn't it be great if those stresses could be reduced?

So give it a go... instead of playing a video game, why not try “coloring therapy” instead?

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    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Talfonso, thanks so much! I love your thoughtful comment and I love that Hulk cartoon! :^)

      I enjoyed coloring books as a child too, but I often drew my own pictures also. What's nice as an adult (at least for me) is the relaxing with colored pencils and a mandala. It's interesting to find out what colors I go to on a stressful day versus one that is less stressed.

      I'm definitely going to find that book! Thanks again.

    • talfonso profile image

      talfonso 4 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL

      Great article! I love the idea of adult coloring books! Have you heard about the one named COLORING FOR GROWN-UPS? Oh gosh - that coloring/activity book is funny. It has both open-ended art bits like drawing Halloween costumes for Obama and Romney. One of the pages is a maze that you should find your way from you with the laptop to you typing on it. Hilarious!

      This Hub reminds me of something. I have seen really funny pictures of coloring book pages/coloring pages (the kind meant to be colored in by kids) on the Web colored in by those late teen to college age. They did not just stayed in the lines, but they added their own details as well.

      I particularly love the one in which a person colored the Hulk and added a necktie, a pair of classes, a watch, and a briefcase. He added the captions in black crayon, "Hulk Late Again! Hulk Hate Mondays!" Then, he wrote "is late for work" over the words "on the move" using that same color crayon! I praise that guy for thinking outside the pre-drawn lines!

      I have heard a lot about the criticism about coloring books those days (Closed-ended thinking, allegations for creativity-stifling in kids), but I have been balancing between coloring in coloring books and drawing freehand since childhood and it had no effect on creativity.

      You serve up very good points. Sometimes coloring within the lines can be a good thing, and I love how you mentioned that it's meditative and improves concentration. Thanks for inspiring me to color in coloring books/pages with this Hub!

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hey, teaches! When a kid asks you to color with me, it's because they totally accept you, no matter whether they color inside the lines or out. I think that's wonderful. Thanks so much for stopping by, and for the votes. :^)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      You are never too old to color. I agree that it is so relaxing. I always love it when a kid asks me to color with them, it is my chance to be creative. Great hub topic and voted up!

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      "Opens up our vistas." I love that!!! Thanks Docmo, and I truly appreciate the votes. :^)

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      This is exactly my view too. coloring, sketching, painting anything we can lay our hands on enhances the brain chemistry , really opens up our vistas and gives a lot of energy and enthusiasm. Your hub captures this so well and I love the Van Gogh quote too. Well done!voted up and across, Rachel.

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hey, Keith -- and thanks! Crayons/pencils/marker coloring is one of my favorites... but paper tops the list. I plan to do a hub on that, too. Always great to see you, and I appreciate the thoughtful comment. :^)

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi, Silver! Thanks for the comment and compliment - I actually have the mandala hanging above my computer. :^) Stay inspired!

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      50p??? Wow, what a deal! I'll be visiting UK this summer and you can bet I'll be looking for that store too, Jools! Thanks so much for the comment and votes! :^)

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hey, Sunshine! Ohh, don't you just LOVE opening a fresh box of crayons? The new points on them are so compelling. :^)

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks so much, Natasha! There are lots of non-kiddie books out there, and it makes coloring so much more satisfying for adults. Appreciate the votes and the follow. :^)

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hiya, Ish!! :^) Thanks so much for your comment -- it really helps one relax, and although I truly enjoy being online, sometimes I must tear myself away from the screen, pick up those crayons, and enjoy myself that way instead.

    • profile image

      KDuBarry03 4 years ago

      In my opinion, anything that allows you to escape the world around you is relaxing. Any thing that deals with art, in my opinion, is definitely relaxing. Coloring allows you to think not of what bills to pay, when your kids are ready to be picked up from school, how many hours you got at your job; it allows you to think: Do I want red or blue? Very simple, and yet very relaxing :) Very well done!

      -KD

    • profile image

      SilverGenes 4 years ago

      I didn't know about the more grownup colouring books either - oh, the possibilities! That mandala is gorgeous! Thank you for the inspiration :)

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

      I was colouring in last weekend to de-sress and I loved it. I just spent an hour with my felt tip pens and my geometric patterns book which I bought in a cheap UK store called Netto, I paid 50p for it.

      Voted up and shared. Fun hub and I loved your own drawings.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Excellent hub! A fresh box of crayons and Strawberry Shortcake or Disney Princess coloring books and I'm lost in another realm for a couple of hours:)

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      I love coloring, but I'm glad to know there are non-kid coloring books available. Thanks! Voted up and useful.

    • ishwaryaa22 profile image

      Ishwaryaa Dhandapani 4 years ago from Chennai, India

      An extremely helpful hub! I am fond of indulging in artwork. You are right about the coloring therapy - they de-stress and helps in relaxing one's mind. You got a nice collection of coloring books by the way of your photos. Your lines "--- , oh my!" jazzed up your engaging hub! Well-done!

      Thanks for SHARING. Useful, Awesome & Interesting. Voted up and Socially Shared.

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi precy anza, great to hear another agreement! Thank you for commenting.

    • precy anza profile image

      precy anza 5 years ago from San Diego

      I totally agree, coloring aren't just for kids! And it is relaxing and a good way of de stressing. It's fun to do some coloring :)

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      ALUR, perhaps that is true. But I prefer to think of those colors as healing and regenerative.

    • ALUR profile image

      ALUR 5 years ago from USA

      If there is an opportunity to express oneself it is on an empty canvas allowing colors of hope and dismay to blend all together.

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks, winbo! I'm glad you liked it.

    • winbo profile image

      winbo 5 years ago

      nice! Voted up

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi, Shesabutterfly!

      I love that idea. I actually carry a coloring book with my laptop and a box of colored pencils. You never know when you need to power down your brain, am I right? :-)

    • Shesabutterfly profile image

      Cholee Clay 5 years ago from Wisconsin

      I absolutely love to color!:) In college, my roommate and I always carried around at least one coloring book and a small box of crayons in our backpack. People would make fun of us, but with the stress of school it was great to be able to pull that book out and just color away.

      Although I am partial to my box of 120 crayons paired with my box of 64 and that doesn't even cover my colored pencils or markers:) Coloring is definitely a project for sprawling on the floor and letting your imagination go wild.

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi, viking305! Thank you so much for commenting and the votes.

      I have painted with acrylics too, but I'm still learning dimensions and I often can't articulate my design ideas the way I want to. That's why if I identify with a certain picture, I'm liable to make several copies and try to re-try them with different colors until I'm satisfied.

      As for suggesting coloring while undergoing troubles with writing pieces, absolutely! "Relax while you wait for the answer." I love that!

    • viking305 profile image

      L M Reid 5 years ago from Ireland

      This is a very relaxing pass time. Coloring books for adults can be fantastic.

      I am a freelance writer and also paint with acrylics, so know exactly how it feels to get lost in your own world of colors and brush strokes.

      I would say this would be a good idea too for anyone who is having trouble with an article or fiction piece.

      Take out you coloring book and relax while you wait for the answer

      Thanks for SHARING. Voted up and Awesome

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      RTalloni - yes! One of my favorite things about coloring is that while your mind relaxes itself, decisions or solutions to problems seem to resolve themselves as you imagine pros and cons of how to handle them. Thanks for the comment.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      Hooray for coloring! Coloring is a wonderful way to give one's mind some r&r. People might be surprised at out-of-the-blue solutions to problems that come when they are doing some leisurely coloring.

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Dolores, I am definitely going to check out that hub! (I almost spelled your name "Colores"! Haha!)

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 5 years ago from East Coast, United States

      You can find some great coloring books at museums. We have one with famous paintings. I made a coloring books to give as gifts to family and friends (wrote a hub on it too) which was a hoot. It certainly is relaxing and I think it's good for your concentration as well.

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Definitely, flashmakeit. Sounds like a lot of fun. There are also categories targeted specifically at topics that I'm not even going to mention here!

    • flashmakeit profile image

      flashmakeit 5 years ago from usa

      I never knew there where adult coloring books maybe someone could become a millionaire by making adult coloring books and selling them.

      Just a thought

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