r By Belinda Bringhurst
You may have noticed something interesting stuffed in the magazine racks at the store: coloring books for adults. Their popularity has grown so fast that the pencil company Faber Castel in Germany had to open more shifts just to handle the load. An ad from Michaels art stores calls it the ”fastest-growing trend in the U.S.” So what’s the draw? While it may leave some to wonder what our country is coming to with our adults participating in something normally relegated to childhood, it does have its benefits.
According to clinical psychologist Scott M Bea, Psy.D., ”It has everything to do with refocusing our attention.” It may look like a simple activity, but focusing on color choice, patterns, darks and lights, texture and movement has the ability to make “the difficulties of life evaporate from our awareness …. It is very much like a meditative exercise” that keeps your attention in the present moment which, when done regularly, can improve your overall health. So when you’re feeling a little antsy, stop, check in with yourself and pull out the colored pencils.
Besides giving your brain a break, you have something to show when you are done. In 2012, a worldwide study called “State of Create” revealed that there is quite a gap between where we are and where we want to be creatively. Many felt their jobs focused more on production rather than creation. The school system was also thought to be stifling creativity. Coloring can satisfy the need to create no matter what your skill level. With myriads of ways to color, you will always have a unique piece. And when you are done you can say, “Look what I did!”
Utah coloring book artist Jeanette Siufanua was immediately drawn to the first adult coloring books, recognizing how fun they were. She also has a great love for temples with all their rich symbolism. “Temples: Drawing on Symbols” is the result of combining the two. To promote the social aspect of coloring and to talk about the symbols in her book, she goes to coloring book parties hosted by bookstores, libraries and assisted living centers. Coloring is the new knitting circle or painting group. It does not require expensive supplies or drawing skills. Just turn off the electronics, add music, share some treats, and you have a great party. Already she has had an overwhelmingly positive response from people. One woman said it helped her child who has ADD. Another mom said that was exactly what she needed for church. You can take a peek or learn more about her book at www.drawingonsymbols.com.
With all they offer – portability, social connection, stress relief, beauty, creativity and more – coloring books for adults may be here for a while. So go ahead, turn on the music, make some mint-alfalfa tea and settle in for some coloring time. And, maybe next week, make it a party.