I am what you’d call a “Type-A” personality. Well, to clarify, I am a Type-A personality excluding the overly organized, highly functioning part. Ok, maybe I am more of a over-stimulated, stressed-out workaholic … but you say tom-AY-to, I say tom-AH-to.

The fact remains, I am in need of relaxation. I have crushed candies and wasted hours “farming” on iPad apps — all in the pursuit of distracting my overactive mind so I can attempt to unwind. I own a business, I am a mom, I have a dog, and a husband (you know, one of the male needy kind). My gears turn from sun up to… well, they just turn.

You can imagine my delight in tripping over the Huffington Post article by Pricilla Frank suggesting that coloring could be the new meditation. You see, I am a “creative” that was bestowed no actual artistic ability or talent, but I CAN color! Color combinations, shading, creating texture… you name it. I am the bomb.com with a coloring book. Given permisson to spend time coloring as an adult, I immediatley rushed out and bought Johanna Basford’s newly released second coloring book, Enchanted Forest. I flipped through the beautifully drawn black and white pages and couldn’t wait to get coloring.

But there was a hiccup.

I didn’t own any “adult” coloring paraphernalia (see earlier mention of no artistic talent) and this was obviously work for specialized tools. I polled some artist friends and headed for Michael’s.  

First try? Fine Tip Gel Pens. This was advice from a friend that thought they would be easiest to use in the small spaces. While they did give the boldest color, they were tricky. The gel doesn’t dry quickly so it’s easy to drag over a section and cause a smear. You also cannot blend the gel pens for different tones. I tried both metallic gel pens and flat color. They were comfortable to color with and aside from the few challenges above once I adjusted my methods they worked well. The results are bold and pretty.

Adult Coloring: The New Meditation? - (cool) progeny

Next material: colored pencils. I bought both a cheap set and a nicer Prisma Colored Set. This was by far my favorite coloring tool. The pencils allowed me to shade and blend new colors which is a perk when coloring these complex patterns. The depth of color was not as dramatic as the other instruments but overall still a satisfying result. The pencils require the most amount of elbow grease, so I took some breaks for cramping fingers. Be sure you have a pencil sharpener on hand and avoid my misstep with the cheaper pencils. Although the colors looked great the points broke off easily and didn’t sharpen back to the nice factory points.

Last experiment: markers. Garden variety fine tip markers (inexpensive ones because I was $40 into my coloring exploration by this point). Markers presented the same difficulty shading but do give you versatility to mix colors for new hues. The paper in the better coloring books is thick enough that you don’t have to worry about bleeding through to the image on the back {bonus!}. The results were bright and fun and the markers were comfortable to color with for the lengthy amount of time the intricate pages required.

But the real question: am I more relaxed? Adult coloring served the same function as the mindless iPad games but with one major upside: at the end, I had something that gave me creative satisfaction instead of the feeling of wasted energy that I normally battle after time spent in distraction. I really enjoyed the process of selecting the colors and creating.

I am not alone, at a recent retail tradeshow it looked as though the only books being offered were variations of the adult coloring book. Book sellers explained that titles were sold out at wholesale but recuts were in works to keep up with insane demand around the country. It’s definitely a craze. Amazon currently offers 41 books in its adult coloring books category and articles about its popularity and benefit continue to pepper my social media feeds. I guess the good news is that I am not alone in my overstimulated little world. No one thing works for everyone but adult coloring turned out to be a more satisfying, enriching way to drive myself to distraction.

Give it a try and let us know what tools you like best. Happy Coloring!


Photos by Laura Black


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