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Got Stress? Get Relief on National Coloring Day

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Politics got you down? How do you spell "relief"?

Coloring lowers stress! National Coloring Book Day is August 2 and you can relax by coloring, just like you did as a kid, except with more appealing designs. You can print out a mini coloring book, enter a coloring contest or find a coloring party to join on the event site.

Adult coloring has become a huge craze, and no wonder, coloring is a fun, relaxing, meditative respite from the stresses of the day. According to the WaPo, "Nielsen Bookscan estimates that some 12 million (adult coloring books) were sold in 2015, a dramatic jump from the 1 million sold the previous year."

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(Image by Dover Creative Haven Coloring Books, used with permission)   Details   DMCA

According to, neuropsychologist Dr. Stan Rodski "says 'coloring elicits a relaxing mindset, similar to what you would achieve through meditation. Like mediation, coloring allows us to switch off our brains from other thoughts and focus on the moment. Tasks with predictable results, such as coloring or knitting, can often be calming -- Rodski was even able to see the physical effects they had on our bodies by using advanced technology.

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"The most amazing things occurred -- we started seeing changes in heart rate, changes in brainwaves," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, adding that part of this neurological response in 'colorists' comes from the repetition and attention to patterns and detail associated with coloring."

Dover Publications offered the first coloring book aimed at adult colorists, Antique Automobiles, in 1970. Today their "Creative Haven" coloring book series is one of the most popular on the market. You can sign up for their free coloring newsletter and also for their weekly email sampler, which offers free downloadable coloring pages

(Image by Dover Publications)   Details   DMCA

The popularity of coloring books for adults has exploded in the last year... In Washington, D.C., one meetup group has 190 members, and their weekly events often have waiting lists. -Jorge Ribas/The Washington Post.

Christine Doyle is a freelance editor specializing in the editing of craft instructions for books and online classes. She shares tips on sewing, quilting, and coloring in her blog. I asked her a few questions about her process, and about one of her mandalas.

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(Image by Christine Doyle, used with permission)   Details   DMCA

Meryl Ann Butler: I love this mandala you colored, especially the fact that you left some white space as part of your design. Was your selection of colors inspired by BB-8?

Christine Doyle: I loved the color scheme of BB-8 as soon as I saw him, well before The Force Awakens came out. And I loved him even more after I saw the movie. I started coloring this kaleidoscope (from the book Kaleidoscope Designs by Martha Day Zschock) with the yellow, but once I had placed the orange and the first gray, BB-8 came to mind and I went from there.

MAB: Thanks for sharing it, Christine! In your blog, you offered a great way to get started on a new coloring page, can you share that with us?

CD: Yes--my process is to pick a color and use it in three spots in a design. Then I pick another color and use it in three spots. I keep going like that, without a real plan of what color I'll pick next.

MAB: Thaty's a great method, it makes it easy to get started! Thanks for sharing, Christine!

CD: You're welcome, it's been fun!

See photos of Christine's step-by-step process here, on her blog.

I often use a variation on Christine's method, but sometimes I color in an entire section first, and then once i have all the colors worked out, I repeat the sequence on the other sections:

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In addition to geometric designs, coloring books include spiritual designs such as The Shakti Coloring Book, and popular licensed designs such as Laurel Burch's popular depictions of horses, cats, and mermaids, and Mary Englebreit's well known images.

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Engelbreit is a superstar graphic designer whose popular images on greeting cards and in children's books as well as host of other products are loved around the world. OEN asked her about her new coloring books.

(Image by Mary Engelbreit)   Details   DMCA


Meryl Ann Butler: Thanks for visiting with us, Mary! I've been a fan of your art for many decades, and I have always appreciated your very positive messages. And I was thrilled to find out that you have now entered the world of adult coloring books with "Mary Engelbreit's Color ME!" and "Color ME, Too." What did you love best about creating them, and what do you hope colorists will gain from it?

Mary Engelbreit: To create the coloring book, I used existing drawings that we happened to have black and white line art for; I didn't do any new line art for the book. So it will be fun to see how people re-interpret my drawings in their own style! I explain how I color in my drawings on my website,, so if anyone wants to try it that way, they can. But I'm interested in seeing them colored in with other mediums---- maybe it will even get me to try something new!


As exciting as the coloring books are, the most important item in your collection of coloring supplies is the pencils. School-grade pencils don't have the rich color that some of the artist-quality brands offer, so they are not nearly as much fun to use. And pencils will last a long time, so I always recommend investing in good ones (with a discount coupon when available!) In our project, five colorists used several brands. They really liked Tombow and Prismacolor.

(Image by Tombow)   Details   DMCA

Tombow pencils have rich color, and can be used in conjunction with Tombow brush pens for blended effects and rich colors. On their website, they also offer tips and and free downloadable coloring pages.

Prismacolor is also a popular choice, it has a soft lead which produces saturated color.

Your other best friend will be an electric pencil sharpener.


Several adult colorists shared their work to inspire us! Each was given a selection of coloring books to work with.

(Image by Genevieve Crabe, used with permission)   Details   DMCA
Amy Schreiner (Pennsylvania) especially liked Genevieve's Mandalas: Adult Coloring Book by Genevieve Crabe, noting, "There is an inherent flow to Genevieve's mandalas; they give me the impression of always being in motion; as if they are in a dimension of their own."

(Image by Genevieve Crabe)   Details   DMCA

Karla Humphery (New Mexico) is a teacher who colors in-between grading papers.

(Image by Meryl Ann Butler)   Details   DMCA

Joy Haywood (Virginia) journaled about her feelings before she started coloring her image. She wrote that she was feeling annoyed, and overwhelmed by her task list, and even frightened about some possible bad news. Then with a little focus on the process of coloring, she wrote, "life is seeming more colorful!" She noted that as she colored, she felt that her anxiety was being soothed, and she began feeling inspired to create more art.

(Image by Dover Creative Haven Coloring Books, used with permission)   Details   DMCA

Jane Doss (Virginia), Morgaine Beck (Massachusetts) and Amy all selected images from Sue Coccia's books. Coccia's art is filled with indigenous symbolism, each creature is made up of many other scenes or creatures, imparting a dreamlike, spiritual quality to the images. And her coloring designs are printed on 80 lb watercolor paper, which is sturdy enough for markers, watercolors or other water-based paints.

(Image by Sue Coccia, used with permission)   Details   DMCA

(Image by Sue Coccia, used with permission)   Details   DMCA

(Image by Sue Coccia, used with permission)   Details   DMCA

Morgaine also chose a giraffe mandala from Dover's Creative Haven series.

(Image by Dover Creative Haven Coloring Books, used with permission)   Details   DMCA

Coloring books with positive affirmations are available from Louise Hay's Hayhouse Publishing, including Mike Dooley's Notes from the Universe: Enjoy the Journey coloring book. (Mike also is the author of New York Times bestsellers Infinite Possibilities and Leveraging the Universe and his free Notes from the Univers e e-mailings.)

(Image by Hay House)   Details   DMCA

So go get yourself a coloring book and some nice pencils, you know you want to! And have fun, de-stress, and come back to life's other projects, refreshed and renewed!

(Image by Dover Creative Haven Coloring Books, used with permission)   Details   DMCA

"The Shakti Coloring Book: Goddesses, Mandalas, and the Power of Sacred Geometry" is available on Amazon, the Shakti Coloring Book Facebook page is here.

"The Art Of Laurel Burch Coloring Book" is available on Amazon and at Laurel Burch's website.

READERS: Feel free to post images of your coloring projects in the comments section!


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Meryl Ann Butler is an artist, author, educator and OpedNews Managing Editor who has been actively engaged in utilizing the arts as stepping-stones toward joy-filled wellbeing since she was a hippie. She began writing for OpEdNews in Feb, 2004. She became a Senior Editor in August 2012 and Managing Editor in January, (more...)

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