Fifty shades of coloring happiness

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People are coloring! Of course children color, but grown-ups are reigniting their love for picking up a marker and lessening tension and feeling their stress levels drop. Why?

“It makes me happy!”

“Makes me feel like a kid again.”

“It feels like I’m working my creative juices.”

“It stops me from thinking about my pain.”

It’s very relaxing and better than meditating.”

“I can do it with my little girl (or boy or grandchild).”

As a child, you may have spent hours with coloring books that had animals, cartoon characters, holiday scenes, fairytale scenes. I must have gone through dozens of books and colored my way through days of happiness and sad. Coloring books for grown ups are more abstract. Nature books have complicated mazes with intricate floral designs and they take a fair amount of attention to stay on task.

This past summer Parade magazine’s cover featured “The New Joy of Coloring: Cheer up, chill out, and get your creative juices flowing with this summer’s hottest trend” by Hillari Dowdle. You can download parade.com/coloring for free pages ready for you to color. Parade tells us you can instagram your creativity with #colormeparade. Pinterest has loads of boards for coloring. There’s a Facebook page called “Coloring for All!” which has more than 4,000 members.

Coloring books are inexpensive, ranging from $6, $11, $13, and up. Coloring instruments can be fairly pricy or you can get a box at a Dollar Store. You can’t use the crayons we once used. They are too thick for most of the slim-line art books of today. Many pages are fairly sophisticated. The first one I bought last summer was a book of post cards called Secret Garden, reminiscent of the dreamy book My Secret Garden by Francis Burnett.

In mid-October I counted 36 different coloring books on one table in Barnes and Noble. Titles ranged from Enchanted Forest, Color Me Happy: 100 Coloring Templates that will Make You Smile, The Day of the Dead, Barons Beautiful Copycat Books to copy, which had a colored picture on the left, and then you can color in the same “look” on the right. There is Zen Doodle, Secret Paris, Color Me Calm, Fantastic Cities, Japanese Designs, Art Nouveau, the Anti Stress Coloring Book. Mandalas are very popular, as are architecture, fanciful animals, botanicals. A book called Stress Less Coloring: Paisley Patterns gives you a “hypnotic variety.” If you like Mary Engelbreit, look for the Color ME Coloring Book. Of course the internet will offer you choices galore. Animal Kingdom published by Lark Crafts has sold over a million copies worldwide. There’s a “Game of Thrones” coloring book too. And a mindfulness coloring book.

Workshops at New York’s Omega Institute are led by P.C. Turczyn, a mandala artist who encourages students to color as a way of opening up creativity. But places right here in town offer coloring opportunities too.

I was at a senior center when I noticed that members could pick up coloring books and pens in at the art room. I was in a rush, and I didn’t have a chance to see what they had. The next time I was back there, they were all gone. Jump on the coloring train, color, and watch your stress disappear.

The winter glums are still around some of the time, so while you’re waiting for spring, try a coloring project. You might also enjoy it during the doldrums of summer days when it’s too hot to go outside.

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