Did You Know?

The trendy, new form of stress relief for all ages — coloring books

By Paul Viau | Jul 13, 2016
Photo by: Carol Viau COLOR ME CALM — Three members of the Viau family enjoy some quiet coloring time. Pictured, from left, are Sandi Viau, Serena Viau and Kathy-Ann Viau.

Once upon a time, I was an actual parent, and I remember very well what it was like taking the little ones out to dinner. If the restaurant provided the kids with a placemat and crayons, or better yet, a multi-page coloring book, my wife and I got to relax before dinner.

On the other hand, if the restaurant provided nothing whatsoever for the children’s amusement, it was a completely different story.

Gratefully, my late wife, Cindi, was a gifted artist, and could draw her own, whimsical coloring book pages, on a moment's notice — and she always traveled with crayons in her purse.

Fast forward five or six decades, and my teenage grandchildren are all equipped with iPhones attached to their bodies, and they live with the constant pressure to update their Facebook pages, Snap-Chat with their friends and text-message one another at 80-120 words per minute.

How do they escape this fast-paced media onslaught? The answer may surprise you — with incredibly intricate, multi-page coloring books that come in all shapes, sizes and themes.

A quick stroll through Barnes & Noble will reveal titles like, The Classic Comic Coloring Book, Color Therapy, Meditative Coloring, The Anti-Stress Adult Coloring Book, Coloring for Creativity, The National Parks Coloring Book, David Bowie ‘Starman’ Coloring Book, Doctor Who Coloring Book, The Aviary Coloring Book, Star Wars Images to Inspire, Wild Savanah Coloring Book Adventure, Don’t Worry, Eat Cake Coloring Book (very popular with Marie Antoinette fans,) Stained Glass Coloring Book, Mandalas for Mindfulness and the meditational masterpiece — Coloring for Creativity.

As you can tell from this brief list of titles, most of these coloring books are targeted to reach young adults, frustrated adults and even geezer adults like myself, and there is a coloring book to suit almost everyone.

For example, I’m intrigued with the imagery and sheer skullduggery of, The Night of the Living Dead, while my wife, Carol — a well-knows a cat fancier — favors the “Stress Relieving Cats” adult coloring book.

These coloring books can entertain a small crowd on a rainy day. Case in point was our recent trip to Indianapolis, when my wife, daughters-in-law and granddaughter gathered around the dining room table — to color.

These coloring books can also become a preoccupation. One of my friends from the golf course, Butch Franklin, once bought a “Night Before Christmas” coloring book to add to his wife’s collection. He wanted to color it before he gave it to her, so he painstakingly labored with colored pencils whenever he had spare time, and it took him four months to complete it.

That’s eight times a fortnight before he got to, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”

I clearly do not have the patience for that.

I’d prefer titles more like “The Get It On with Graffiti Coloring Book,” complete with spray paint in all the primary colors and a coupon for a large can of mineral spirits.

Did you know? — Five of the top 15 books on Amazon.com’s 2015 bestseller list are coloring books, and the genre didn’t exist three years ago. The people into this craze calmly call themselves, “colorists,” and they often frame their creations and/or post them to online galleries.

Some of the colorists’ medium of choice is marker. Others, like my granddaughter, prefer gel pens. But most coloring is done in the readily available, larger-spectrum medium of colored pencil.

In Waynesville, we are privileged to be the home of the official ‘Artist of the Blue Ridge,’ Teresa Pennington, who has mastered the art of colored pencil. You’ll find no coloring books at her studio on Main Street, but T.Pennington does have individual coloring sheets for sale to calm and inspire you.

If you are a colorist, you will especially appreciate T.Pennington’s attention to detail and the spiritual way she captures the wonders of nature.

Every one of her drawings represents hundreds of hours of concentration — time spent in what she calls, ‘in the zone’ — where she is focussed so intently on her art that she forgets all cares, concerns and the myriad of life's other distractions.

T. Pennington's art is quite literally an ‘illustration’ that colored pencil can be a calming media of peace, quiet and contemplation.

Want to give it a try?

Coloring books for teens and adults can be found — in abundance — at bookstores, Walmart and Amazon.com.

Let your inner-artist calm and inspire you as you color away.