Coloring Books for Grown Ups – do we really need them?

Why would you buy a Coloring book for Grown Ups? Do grown ups really need silly activity books, don’t we have more important things to do? Or said in another way: what could be the benefits of trying this trend out for yourself?

Coloring books for Grown Ups, blog post on this trend from iHanna

In my dream world there are activity books and coloring books readily available in book stores – for grown ups as well as for kids. Wouldn’t that be just wonderful? Oh wait, that is reality these days! I think coloring books for grown ups, as seen just about everywhere, is (a very small) step in the right direction.

The right direction you ask? In the direction of cultivating creative thinking, beyond kindergarten and artist’s studios. In the lives of everyday grown ups, and their kids…

Having coloring books marketed towards grown-ups is not just a way of selling more coloring books as I see it, but a way to give the sad, gray grown up (who often have forgotten how to be creative) the permission to do something as “silly” or “childish” as coloring. This gives them, and all of us creatives too, the permission to sit down, maybe with a glass of wine on a Friday evening, to color in a pattern or a cute image of a mushroom. To buy pens, play with color, listen to our own thoughts, to experiment… That is: taking time for yourselves. Taking time to do something creative, as an act of self-respect and self-love (two of my favorite things).

Taking time to enjoy colors, patterns and practicing choosing what colors to use next. It might seam silly at first, but with a closer look it’s not. It’s as healthy as meditation and mindfulness.

My coloring in trial in Hanna Karlzon's coloring books for Grown Ups called Daydreams #creativity

It’s kind of sad that we need a publisher of coloring books to tell us it’s allowed to play in this way. Maybe we do need even more things like this, and spaces where play is allowed? The saddest part to me is how many grown up women, and men, can’t see themselves playing with colored pencils or pick up a coloring book, because OMG, how silly wouldn’t that be?! What will “others” say? Instead they will paint their nails and ask the kids to not to get mud on their clothes when they play outside.

IE: they’ve forgotten how creativity makes life better, brighter and more awesome. I must pity these people and I write this blog to help cure the boring, sometimes stale grownupness.

In this stressed out society, in this sad political environment, we all need more color, more play, more mindful creativity, and more time to sit with our thoughts in silence. Coloring in a coloring book for Grown Ups is one of many ways to embrace this mindset. Knitting is another, embroidery, or doodling. Cooking can be creative and fun too, or so I’ve heard.

If you ever tried coloring, you know how calming, fun and relaxing this activity can be, right?

Daydreams Coloring Book by Hanna Karlzon, Sweden I got a coloring book from my friend Maria a few years ago. I discovered that even if I’m not the kind of person who “needs” a coloring book to enhance my creativity (I’d rather draw my own figures), I love this particular coloring book, mostly because it has the prettiest book cover ever and such sweet illustrations. It’s by a Swedish artist, and I love that fact too.

I love the few things I have colored in, and I adore that it has been used as inspiration more than as a canvas. At one of our art dates in the garden this summer, I brought it with me and my mom used it as inspiration in her own doodle/idea book. She copied some of the designs into her own book, and I was totally impressed with how pretty her drawings where – free hand in black ink from scratch. Finding inspiration in the drawings is another way to use a coloring book. I think my mom has an artist hidden within her, that will come out of hiding if allowed. Maybe you do too?

Here’s Peta Hewitt’s Colouring Book Video Review of the book I mentioned above, Day Dreams (Dagdrömmar) embedded (with tips and coloured pages as a bonus) so you can take a closer look at it:

And maybe that is what a coloring book can be? A tiny stepping stone for our creative adventures? It is a perfect way to practice your sense of blending, coloring and just using your pencils or ink pens in a fun way. I also believe it can be an end within itself, especially if you have a coloring book that you really love and want to fill to the brim with your own coloring style.

What a piece of art it will be when you finish that book! I’d suggest dating your pages when you finish one, and taking notes on scrap paper or in the back about what mediums or combinations you use and like best. I also challenge you to try other colors than the “correct colors”. Use what you have, or experiment with a green sky and a purple ocean…

I think a coloring book is a beautiful gift, especially to someone who is not as creative as maybe, say, you are? Give one away to the people in your life that needs a push, maybe it’s your mom, sister, brother, aunt, nephew, or some of your co-workers – or your boss?

So even though the trend of specific coloring books for grown ups might seam silly at first, I dare you to give it a try. To give it a try together with a few friends that never take the time to create anything with their hands. To give your creativity a chance. I dare you.

And if you think the activity of “coloring in” is childish and silly, I suggest you to take it to the next step. Again, I learned so many new things from Peta Hewitt on YouTube. Here’s her Colouring Tutorial on Using Light and Choosing Colours for Dynamic Results in the same coloring book as mentioned above:

Who knew there were so much to learn, huh?

Do you have any favorite coloring book pencils or tips, or are you boycotting it all? I would love to know what your opinion on this growing trend is – leave me a comment below, since I’ve already told you what I think of Coloring Books for Grown Ups in this post!

I’m also collecting black-and-white images in the pinterest board B/W – perfect as inspiration!


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10 Responses to Coloring Books for Grown Ups – do we really need them?

  1. Rachel says:

    I have a few colouring books but I honestly prefer children’s colouring books! The adult ones are just too finely detailed and intricate for my poor eyes to cope with!!

    • iHanna says:

      Good point Rachel, some of the adult coloring books are crazy detailed and makes me a bit dizzy too. I’m a fan of the mandala books though, they’re beautiful.

  2. Faigie says:

    I have quite a few things to say about coloring books :). I was a preschool teacher and director for a number of years and am now an elementary school art teacher.(and and a newly minted mixed media artist) For children I find that coloring books are creativity killers. I know there are big debates out there about the merits of coloring books but, I also give workshops to preschool teachers who don’t have a clue about kids creativity in art and they give them these copycat art projects to do which includes coloring pages, because they dont know how to help them be creative. (sorry for the rambling this is a real pet peeve of mine)

    For adults I think the coloring is a different thing. Coloring with creamy crayons, markers and other utensils and filling in all the spaces fits into the same therapeutic effects as all other hand work. Its relaxing and therapeutic.

    However, coloring is NOT creative. Creativity is creating something new and thats not what coloring is.(Unless you create your own coloring pages)

    So though coloring may have its market (also for adults who would love to use art materials but, just don’t know what to do with them) let’s not confuse it with creativity.

  3. Annie Peters says:

    I think you really summed up the advantages of coloring books for adults very nicely. I will also add that I think coloring gives me a place to experiment with new supplies and get a feel for how to use them without the fear of “messing up” a project of my own. Also, I find that my mind seems to loosen up as I color and I find creative thoughts popping up more readily.

    I don’t have a favorite coloring book (yet! ;) ), but I will say that I think I prefer ones with more open space as opposed to too much really fine detail.

  4. Debi says:

    I love coloring and do have an adult coloring book [which I’ve had for nearly a year and still haven’t used it … but I will someday! lol]

    Also I bought some small cards about the size of 3 x 4″ and they’re to be colored and I have been using them [I like to enclose them in cards I send sometimes.]

    And, last but not least – I just bought a journaling bible last week and it is filled with images to color in and I love it! Now if I just had more time … there never seems enough time to do it all, ya know?

    Have a nice day, Hanna!

  5. peggy coffey says:

    Faigie, I have to disagree with you about coloring books not being creative. No, they are not original drawings, but for someone who hasn’t picked up a colored pencils or crayon since childhood, it’s a first step. It enables a person to try out watercolor and crayons and pens in ways they may have never considered. Their new found creativity may enable them to experiment with color and shading progress to other mediums. To say it’s not creative to color in an adult coloring book tells me you have never done it. For some it’s a first step, and that is something we need to encourage and nurture, not slam them with “its not creative so it’s not really art.” Everyone has to begin somewhere, most of us weren’t born with a paint brush in our hands, and I hope you are less critical with your students.

    • Patricia Houston says:

      I agree, Peggy. I think coloring books do allow us to be creative. The decision as to what media and the colors we use are creative choices. You might just as well say that crocheting something isn’t creative if we don’t make up our own pattern.

    • Faigie says:

      I’m sorry this came across as critical , but it happens to be a pet peeve of mine as its all you see in many preschool and kindergarten classrooms. It can be fun and soothing(and you’re right I do love to color , but do it in my journal not in coloring books) and if you take it a step further then maybe it can lead to creativity but if you look up the definition of creativity it doesn’t seem to fit.

      • iHanna says:

        I get where you all are coming from here, and think it’s lovely that my blog post on coloring pages got you thinking and talking about the definition of creativity….

        I agree with you Faigie, that it does not seam that kids could learn anything about creativity from a coloring pages – they’re so free and creative in themselves. It’s indeed the grown ups who “need” the coloring to get started. Kids migh have fun with a coloring book, to play in and learn to stay inside the lines I guess, but not for learning about creativity.

        I myself do not define coloring as the most creative thing you could do with your time, as I wrote in this post. Instead I think of it as a gateway drug to heavier creativity! ;-) Although I think there is always a danger in defining what’s creative and what’s not, for others.

        Everything that we create does not need to be innovative – just innovations themselves!

        To be creative on a coloring page is what I describe above; where there was “nothing” (as in black outlines that you can color within), now there is blending, colors, mistakes and trials, and a play with how it all will create this new picture that wasn’t there before.

        To say like Faigie that “coloring is NOT creative” can be true, but also very false. It all depends on your definition of creativity and how you approach it – and what you will define as creating something “new”.

  6. Kathie McClendon says:

    I have been coloring for 9 or 10 months and have quite a collection of coloring books. It is the most soothing, relaxing activity I’ve found in a long time. I like both the detailed, intricate subjects and those with lots of open space. I enjoy figuring out elaborate color schemes …or paying little attention to color choice. There is even a practical use for all of those colored pages. I make postcards and envelopes out of them. And, as someone mentioned, it is a great way to try out new techniques and art supplies.

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