By Kim Robson:
I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz lately about these intricate coloring books for grown-ups. Recently I broke down and got one, and it is just delightful. I had an old box of 48 Prismacolor art pencils, so I was ready to start immediately. It’s a great way to detach from everyday distractions and unwind while doing something more productive, creative and inspiring than just plopping in front of the TV or computer.
The coloring book I chose was Enchanted Forest, drawn by Johanna Basford. It interactively guides the artist through pages of forest full of charming creatures to discover what lies in the castle at the end. Similar to her first coloring book, Secret Garden, this book also features hidden objects and fun mazes.
Beginning at the entrance to a fairytale forest, the journey progresses through highly embellished woods and through intricate flora. Castles, treasure chests and other magical elements add a fairytale narrative to the designs. Special features include a gate-folded two-page spread and a colorable jacket. In fact, the entire book, including the front and back covers, is colorable.
I’ve just added to my wish list Basford’s latest coloring book, Lost Ocean. The antediluvian images inside look gorgeous.
Of course, Basford isn’t the only artist jumping on the adult coloring book bandwagon. There are all sorts of creative options, including stunning images inspired by traditional henna designs, mandalas, and paisleys. These detailed images feature elaborate designs and patterns of the ancient Mehndi (henna tattoo) patterns of Africa, India and the Middle East. Images in this book vary from minimally detailed to highly detailed, making it perfect for beginners to work toward more advanced coloring.
Another book features stylized animal patterns, with creatures great and small from jungles, seas, sands and savannahs all around the world. Yet another simply features pleasing eye-candy abstract designs.
There are so many lovely things about coloring. First, it brings us back to our childhoods, when filling a coloring book might have been the only chore required in your day. It’s a feast for the senses: the tactile sensation of the heavy pages, the scent of the wood and wax pencils, the deep saturation of color, the satisfying scrunching sound of a pencil being sharpened, the soft swishing of the pencil on paper. It requires concentration, but in a relaxing, mindless sort of way.
Don’t have a lot of time? That’s okay; there’s no deadline to meet. It’s not a race.
Don’t consider yourself artistic? No worries; all the hard stuff has been done for you. You just get to decide which colors to use. Want to do a purple owl with blue eyes sitting on a red branch with pink leaves? Well, why on earth not?
Accidentally go over the lines? Relax. No one is judging you. No one is looking over your shoulder. There are no grades being handed out. This is about carving out some “you time.”
Feel a little silly sitting and coloring like a five-year-old? These complex designs aren’t for children. Trust me, you’ll get over feeling silly in about two minutes. In fact, I’m thinking about starting a coloring club in my neighborhood. A few of us ladies could sit around a table together, sharing pencils, gossiping, drinking wine and eating snacks, while quietly coloring. Sounds like a wonderful way to spend a winter afternoon.