Art · Growing Up

Are Adult Coloring Books Necessary?

As a child, one of my favorite pasttimes was coloring. The hardest part about it was staying inside the lines. Well, that and maybe deciding what colors to use for the picture.

During my freshman year of college, my roommate and I used to spend time coloring pictures and making cute little nametags for our door like the RAs. We made signs for our door too to count down to vacations and holidays. It was always fun, and we colored the most during final exam week.

See the thing about coloring is that it is a great stress reliever. Maybe that’s why kids tend to be extremely relaxed and laid back. Or maybe it’s because they don’t have to pay bills.

Interestingly enough there is a new trend out there: adult coloring books.

I noticed them the first time at Barnes and Noble. Not long ago I saw them at Michael’s too, and it made me think about them again. I was in a mood to color, so I thought they’d be perfect. I picked them up and looked through them. The flower version was pretty much all circular and paisley patterns. The others had intricate patterns too. One even had a fully colored version on the left for you to copy on the right.

Clearly there must be a market for these things, but do adults really need complicated patterns with tiny areas to color inside of? Honestly, it seemed like that would just take the fun out of it.

I wasn’t coloring to do something complicated and intricate. I was doing it so I could enjoy some creative time in a low stress situation and my mind could take a break in order to more or less reboot itself. For that reason, I left with a wintry coloring book that was no doubt intended for children and headed home where I opened my Sesame Street fall coloring book to enjoy some time with The Count and Cookie Monster. The other coloring book will be my friend once winter hits, but I’m not trying to encourage its early arrival, hence the fall book.

Cookie Monster Wants Cupcakes!
Cookie Monster Wants Cupcakes!
How many pumpkins? Lets count them. One ah ha ha. One pumpkin.
How many pumpkins? Let’s count them. One ah ha ha. One pumpkin.

Do adults need these complicated coloring books to relieve stress or do they only cause more stress? Has anyone tried them?

Your Turn
What do you think about the adult coloring books? Have you tried one or thought about it? Do you have an opinion on whether they are any better than children’s coloring books or do you think children’s coloring books are for adults too?

I love hearing your opinions! Feel free to take the conversation in a different direction if something else sparks your interest!

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23 thoughts on “Are Adult Coloring Books Necessary?

  1. Hey! What a novel thought? I did try painting many-a-times but somehow the patience wasn’t there. I think adult coloring books would be an awesome idea, which can range from thought provoking images to mood-based coloring. Sitting in a bar, some would probably like to use more of darker shades, while relaxing at a beach it would be opposite.

  2. I hadn’t thought about coloring books for adults until a recent post “It’s My World” by The Secret Keeper — — and I think it’s a pretty cool idea. I don’t think it matters if the book was intended for adults or children if engaging provides what one is seeking. Knowing myself, it wouldn’t be much of a stress release, rather one more thing to take way too seriously. But if it works for you or anyone else, that’s cool. I would also think it would be cool to see a collection of the same picture and how the adults decided to color it.

    1. Thanks for the link. I’ll have to check it out!

      I meant to snap a picture of what one looks like inside. To me, it’s just too busy.

      I agree that it’d be interesting to compare the different color choices of adults. I wonder if I could do something like that on my blog as an event!

  3. Totally with you here!
    I like coloring books, but I don’t like the adult ones that have been showing up. They’re too busy like you say, you can’t go for big strokes which is what makes it relaxing, I think 😉 And the kid s pictures are so much funnier 🙂

  4. I love this post! Here to say that adult coloring books stopped me in my tracks and now I know why. I thought nothing of indulging my inner frou-frou child with crayons and coloring books with princesses, fairies, and mermaids. Nothing better than the smell of a newly opened Big Box with all the points intact. (My daughter once referred to a new box of crayons as “sharp and ready.”) Then I picked up my first adult coloring book a few months ago and out came the Prismacolors and the expectations of SERENITY NOW. Then another. And another. I started concerning myself with symmetry and balance and form — No more randomly diving into the colors; I would set aside the pencils in order to know exactly which ones I’d used on any particular design. My serenity started leaving a mess where the saved pencils would fall out of the books where it had become more of a mission to complete than a form of relaxation. I put it all away.
    Until yesterday when I’d gone to the art supply store for something completely different and they had an entire display devoted to adult coloring. Found one called “Fanciful Faces” and couldn’t resist. See the connection? Ha! Back to my inner frou-frou. And just like with the fairies and princesses, I can play with the hair and the eyes and whatever-else and then leave the rest of the design and move along.
    That said, back when I taught at-risk youth, I collected these “design” books (same thing as “adult” way before adult became a thing). The kids and I would fill these designs while we talked and created a fabulous wall of art. When my grandmother developed cancer, I spent hours every day in waiting rooms. Stumbled on one of the design books and took it with me. I couldn’t make sense of magazines or tv or any of the myriad distractions available, but I could lose myself in those designs. Unaware at the time, the intensity of my coloring left deep impressions on the pages. Pulled out those pages and used them in mixed media, effectively destroying my so-deeply-embedded symmetry and form.

    1. There is definitely a need for coloring books. As you say, they do wonders for people. How do you like the complicated designs of the adult ones though? Do they still let you relax as much or just the “Fanciful Faces” one?

      1. For me, it seems that the expectation of relaxation kills it. In other words, I can’t pull these out after a stressful day and just unwind. I prefer regular coloring books and crayons for that — somehow less intimidating maybe? Meanwhile, the complicated designs are useful for helping me block out external stimuli and/or clear my head of the anxious clutter that accumulates in stressful situations like waiting rooms.

  5. I love coloring books! They are a great stress reliever for me. I don’t mind using kids’ ones (I have a How To Train Your Dragon one and a Taro Gomi one which are both fun!) but I also have Secret Garden by Johanna Basford which is one of those trendy “adult” coloring books––and I love it, too. Yes, it is a little overwhelming––like, I’ve put probably 10+ hours into working on it total, and I haven’t even made it through two pages! But on the other hand I do like filling in all the tiny details and it’s very pretty. 🙂 So I guess it just depends on what works for you.

    1. 10+ hours! Wow. Coloring is fun. Wish I had a How to Train Your Dragon coloring book. Perhaps I will buy an adult one and give it a try.

      Thanks for visiting, commenting, and following by the way. 🙂

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