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

Updated on January 7, 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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