art is relaxing: grown up coloring books

Making stuff is therapeutic, relaxing. For years, I’ve been crafting in a variety ways for entertainment, relaxation/anxiety management, and the pleasure of producing stuff to give people. I’m not much of a visual artist–I never learned to draw worth a damn–but there are plenty of things to make that don’t require any difficult-to-develop talent: friendship bracelets, knit or crocheted things (I can make scarves, fingerless gloves, and amigurumi)…you get the idea.

But all those things still require some skill and have some startup costs. The most simple art-ing I do for relaxation doesn’t generate a particularly useful or gift-able final product, but it is simple, cheap, and satisfying, and you can do it anywhere.

I color.

a completed design from my "coloring mandalas" book.

a completed design from my “coloring mandalas” book.

My high school roommate (yes I had a roommate in high school, for my junior and senior years. I went to a public residential high school for gifted kids and lived in a dorm on a college campus. Yes, I am strange) got me into coloring books during the first week we lived together. It was something we could do while chatting and binge-watching  whatever TV series she had on DVD at the moment, and most importantly, it cost us less than $10 each to pick up a huge book and a box of crayons. It was lovely, and the lazy afternoons/evenings I spent getting to know my roommate while coloring cartoon characters are some of my favorite memories from high school.

I tend to go through periods where I color a lot, and periods where I don’t color at all. Every time I come back to it, I wonder “why did I stop? this is so soothing!”.

The biggest problem I had for a long time was finding good coloring books. Eventually I got picky, and I didn’t want to color ANOTHER disney character on crappy-quality paper.  But thanks to the internet, that is no longer an issue. There are more complex, intricate coloring books intended for older children or adults. The tradeoff is that they usually require more detailed work than is reasonable to do with crayons, but colored pencils and skinny markers are also lovely.

a work in progress. this design I made myself for a group art project I'm participating in, but it was all done with tracing, nothing free-handed

a work in progress. this design I made myself for a group art project I’m participating in, but it was all done with tracing, nothing free-handed

Anyhow, I’m mostly posting this because I was absentmindedly browsing for coloring books this morning, and I ended up making a huge list of grown-up coloring books, in case anyone else might enjoy them. They are mostly abstract/geometric pattern designs, as that’s what I mostly do these days, but I might make an exception for old school biological drawings
or dragons.

Obviously, googling for “coloring pages” or “tessellations” will easily find you nifty things to print and color as well, and is particularly useful if you have very specific subject matter in mind or need something in a hurry. For instance, are you a Game of Thrones fan? You’re welcome. If you ARE in the mood for disney characters or cartoon animals (nothing wrong with that!), Crayola has quite a selection. And hey, google image search will even sort coloring pages into categories for you, that’s so nifty! Damn it, now I’m on a roll… the afternoon may get lost to coloring. 😛

Before I go, here are a few good options for colored pencils, markers, and crayons in case you intend to follow me into this craziness.

1.Crayola colored pencils, 50 for ~$7 (decent quality, great price)
2. Prismacolor Colored Pencils 24 for ~$17 (a splurge…artist-quality tools, eh price. larger sets climb up in price really fast)
3. Crayola “supertips” markers 50 for ~$10 (damn, that’s impressive. Regretting ignoring crayola last time I bought markers… they didn’t use to make them with sturdy fine tips.)
4. Stabilo Markers, 20 for ~$13 (worth the added cost if you need something for REALLY fine detail work. Less awesome for coloring large areas. I bought mine for the half-completed project pictured above.)
5. BIC permanent colored markers,Ultrafine or Fine,36 for ~$15 or ~$17 respectively(never used BIC markers for coloring, but they’re between crayola and stabilo on price and have fantastic reviews.)
6. Crayola Crayons, 120 for ~$12 (the only crayons you will ever need, unless you require a telescoping crayon tower)

Anyhow, I think my silliness is now complete. If you have any favorite coloring books or drawing media that I missed, or if you do other nifty stress-relieving art things, do share in the comments!


  1. Pingback: On Stress, Research Papers, and The Need for Play | Parkour Chronicles

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