No doubt you have heard of the adult colouring in craze currently sweeping the globe. It has adults and teens once again reaching for their coloured markers and pencils; only this time the pictures are a bit more complicated. Lets face it, no one knew exactly what adulthood was going to be like when we were kids but it looked like freedom and we couldn’t wait to get older. We now know different and sometimes a quick escape into our childhood isn’t a bad thing.
So what motivates people to pick up the past time of preschoolers? Studies have shown that the simple act of colouring between the lines can lower stress levels. As we colour we focus solely on what is in front of us (on staying within the lines, of picking the right colour) and less on the multitude of problems that we all face in the real world.
Colouring, or art therapy, isn’t a new concept; Carl Jung used it as a relaxation technique back in the early 1900s. As the father of analytical psychology, he advocated that art has the power to “alleviate or contain feelings of trauma, fear, or anxiety and also to repair, restore and heal”.1 By allowing ourselves the time to be still and focus on a simple, achievable task, we give our subconscious time to process information. It allows us to reflect in calmness on our past, present, and future while building skills and creativity.
The fine motor skills required to colour some of the more complicated images can increase dexterity while the designs and colour can stimulate our creativity; a skill that will translate across any discipline and improve problem solving. Psychologist Gloria Martinez Ayala states that
“[colouring] involves both logic, by which we color forms, and creativity, when mixing and matching colors. This incorporates the areas of the cerebral cortex involved in vision and fine motor skills (coordination necessary to make small, precise movements). The relaxation that it provides lowers the activity of the amygdala, a basic part of our brain involved in controlling emotion that is affected by stress.” 2
We can also use colouring in pages to visually get into touch with how we are feeling, since we tend to pick colours that reflect our current state of mind. You will also find that the way you apply the medium to the page is symbolic of how you are feeling – whether you use a light touch or you are heavy handed can be a handy tool for self-reflection.
Or you might just really like colouring like me! 🙂
I have a growing collection of colouring books with a wide range of subject matter, so depending on what I feel like colouring at the time I always have something in my pile to suit my needs.
I can highly recommend:
Her images focus mainly on ambiguous shapes and repetition; they rarely contain recognizable images so you don’t have to stress about it looking right/real. Every page has a flow to the patterns and they always look good.
She has many books (46!) available, some even feature large spaces and line work for use with children, wide tipped markers/crayons or for those who struggle with fine details due to disability, arthritis etc. Angie even has a sampler book with a page from every book she has published so you can find the style that suits you. You will find these easily on her website or Amazon.
There is also a Facebook group you can join to share your work, inspire and/or be inspired. It is a very supportive environment and provides inspiration through their colour-alongs – for when you want to colour but just don’t know which and with what.
Colouring books I own:
Angie Grace: 50 pages in each book.
A page from any new books released after the Sampler’s publication are available online for download as well as other web exclusive designs.
Paper is average; markers bleed a little and a blotting page is essential to protect the image behind. I recommend gel pens and markers (the alcohol based markers such as Bic Mark-its and Sharpies even out nicely and you wont notice pen strokes). Pencils and crayons will require a bit of effort due to the slight texture of the pages.
Creative Haven: Fanciful Faces – 30 pages
Faces surrounded by abstract shapes and imagery.
Average paper with a smooth texture, ideal for all mediums.
Diabolically Detailed Double Pack – 60 pages
Finely detailed imagery, generally floral in nature but some abstract line work.
Average paper with slight texture. Ideal for pens and markers, pencils would be ok (if you have the patience!).
Detailed Designs & Beautiful Patterns – 20 pages
Images are distinctly floral in nature.
Average paper with a slight texture. Ideal for pens and markers, pencils would be ok.
Outside the Lines – 120 pages
This book has rather contemporary/odd pictures, some of which I find uncolourable, but that’s my taste.
Average paper with a very smooth finish. Ideal for all mediums.
Colour me happy – 100 pages
This book is arranged into 6 categories, each category/image was chosen because it universally “evoked a joyous or upbeat response”.
Good paper with a very smooth finish. Ideal for all mediums.
Creative Haven Floral Designs – 31 pages
Obviously, floral in nature.
Good paper with a slight texture. Ideal for all mediums.
Books on order…
Creative Haven: Dream Doodles, Entangled and Dreamscapes
If you are just starting out and are either not sure of what you would like to colour or your budget doesn’t allow for an expensive colouring in book, you can use these links to find free printables (keep in mind that copyright may restrict these for personal, at home use only):
If you are a fellow colourer, join the Randomnous initiative “A Colouring In Infatuation” Facebook group and share your creations.
- (n.d.). Retrieved August 29, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Jung
- Santos, E. (2014, October 13). Coloring Isn’t Just For Kids. It Can Actually Help Adults Combat Stress. Retrieved August 28, 2015, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2014/10/13/coloring-for-stress_n_5975832.html?ir=Australia