Colouring books now all grown up


People are no longer just turning to yoga or mediation to feel zen. Adult colouring books are the latest trend in stress-relief.

Susan Beniston, Art Fundamentals professor and professional art therapist thinks that adult colouring books, like yoga, are related to mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) and the new resurgence with colouring books is connected to people’s interest in finding new ways to relax.

“Because the speed of things is very intense or packed, I would say that things that slow us down are probably a good thing,” said Beniston. “Colouring can return us to a sense of joy. It’s usually something that young people enjoy but we take away some of those things as we mature. It’s a reconnection to something that is not only soothing or calming, but also joyful.”

Nary Weis, 24, Art Fundamentals student started colouring this past year and does it at least a couple times a week, or whenever she has down time.

Weis says that she will choose colouring over other leisure activities such as playing video games or going on her laptop.

“It’s sort of mindless. You get to make a pretty picture without having to think really hard about it,” said Weis. “It’s nice to have something creative to do but at the same time it’s less pressure cause you don’t have to create something from scratch.”

Nary Weis filling in a page from her colouring book. Photo by Olivia Little.

Nary Weis filling in a page from her colouring book. Photo by Olivia Little.

Art students aren’t the only ones exploring colouring as a way to relax.

Art Fundamentals Co-ordinator Peter Palermo said, “They’re getting business people in their offices colouring away. Here we get to do that all the time, but now business people and accountants can do that as well.”

Palermo said that his sister and his niece, who are both accountants, are using them.

“I mentioned it to them and they ended up buying them. They keep it in their desks to fill in whenever they’re under stress,” said Palermo.

Beniston says that there is a range in the quality of what is available, in terms of different adult colouring books.

“I was looking at some of the ones available online and some of them have actually been designed by art therapists. And then there are some that are considered art therapy but are not actually designed by an art therapist,” said Beniston.

“I think there are levels in these things. In the same way there is levels in books. There are those who are highly accomplished and have particular approaches and then there are ones that are just there to provide another distraction.”

Beniston suggests Colouring to Calm by art therapist, Lacy Mucklow and artist, Angela Porter for those who are serious about using colouring as an art therapy.

“This is different from some of the other books. Because she is an art therapist she knows of some of the benefits of what the patterning, is, etc. She’s going to also say that different colours have different meanings and things like that,” said Beniston.

Colouring to Calm, along with other adult colouring books include images and shapes such as mandalas, geometric patterns and patterns of nature that are universally known to evoke even more serenity in the individual using the colouring book.

As well, Mucklow and Porter include colouring tips to let readers know what colours will have a more calming effect.

Although colouring is a creative way to de-stress Palermo does not consider it to be right for everyone.

“It’s a nice way for people who can’t get away from their desks, who can’t climb a mountain, to relieve a little stress,” said Palermo. “Is it better than anything else? No. Cause some people need to scream and yell and run around, and throw things and punch bags, and then some people just need to colour.”

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