Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 September 2020

A look at the latest craze – colouring books for adults

Colouring for adults has become a trendy way to relax and unplug, with a variety of books dedicated to the pursuit becoming the new must-have.
Artist Archana R D is creating designs for a project that she says will produce the next generation of colouring books. Photos by Christopher Pike / The National
Artist Archana R D is creating designs for a project that she says will produce the next generation of colouring books. Photos by Christopher Pike / The National

The one lasting memory I have of using colouring books as a child is of my mum begging me to colour within the lines. “But I want to do it this way,” I’d say, while she would chuckle at the rebel in me. Colouring is something that most of us do as kids, as it helps us with various aspects of our development, including coordination and confidence. Now, however, it seems that adults also want a piece of the action.

Colouring for adults has become a trendy way to relax and unplug, with books dedicated to the pursuit being named the new must-haves. Sitting at No 9 on Amazon’s best-selling books list is Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Patterns, which features pages of intricate designs from a variety of artists.

“I like to colour after work, when I basically need some brainless activity time,” says Reem Al Shak’a, a 27-year-old Palestinian account manager living in Dubai. “For me, it’s enjoyable downtime, when I focus on nothing else but colouring inside the lines. I remember the times when I used to colour as a kid from the smell of the crayons.”

Seeing the current demand for adult-colouring books, the Abu Dhabi-based artist, doctor and certified advanced-energy healer Ashwin Pillai decided to put together a 50-page book with the help of other artists.

“The book was conceptualised during one of my travels, when I decided to spend some time offline. I wanted a new creative tool which was ‘old school’, so I researched this possibility and realised that there are colouring books for adults, too,” he says.

Pillai explains how the book, which has yet to be titled, will be different from those that are already on the market. Not only will the designs pose a bit of a challenge, he promises they’ll also be fun. “The book will take the participant outside the pages as well, because it will actually be a prelude to another exciting art project that I have in the pipeline,” he says. “The process of colouring these intricate patterns is meant to stimulate creativity and at the same time put the user in a state that’s almost meditative in nature.”

Archana R D, an Abu Dhabi-based artist who is working with Pillai on designs for the book, says that one of their objectives is to bring art into daily lives. “Like a yoga mat gives you the freedom to practise anywhere and anytime, you can take your colouring book with you whenever you want to experience its benefits,” she says.

She describes the book as the next generation of colouring books for adults. “I had to undergo training in professional energy-healing techniques to understand the effect that colours and patterns have on the brain. At first [the designs] may appear like mandalas, but they have symbols and elements that are familiar to the Middle Eastern eye. They are geometric and imitate natural patterns that one may find in micro photography or a molecule of an icicle,” she says.

So what has caused this newfound love among adults for colouring books?

Sara Powell, an art psychotherapist working at the Art Therapy International Centre in Dubai, says that busy adults need creative outlets, which is where the books come in. “Modern life has become more stressful, so adults are seeking constructive and healthy ways to manage their stress, while having fun,” says Powell. “Colouring books are associated with childhood, so it could simply be that adults are looking to get in touch with their inner child.”

One of the key selling points of these books is that they provide relief from stress, says Esther Watt, trainer at LifeWorks Personal Development Training in Dubai.

Colouring can help adults practise mindfulness, which, along with exercise, is recommended as a way to train the brain away from focusing on everyday worries.

“It allows you to get absorbed in the moment. The benefits of mindfulness practice and meditation are well-documented, and many of the same benefits are experienced with colouring,” says Watt. “The fight/flight response is reversed and we noticed that our breathing and heart rate slows down and that we are able to focus for long periods of time.”

Dona Daher, an avid colouring enthusiast, agrees that it helps relieve stress. The 38-year-old director of internal communications says she bought two colouring books earlier this year when she was going through some personal issues. “I had gone to the self-help section at the bookstore and I spotted one and thought it was a brilliant idea,” she says. “I normally paint to relax, but I’m not always feeling inspired, so the idea of doing some colouring to unwind was genius.”

Daher, a Lebanese-Canadian living in Dubai, bought Emma Farrarons’s The Mindfulness Colouring Book and Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Colouring Book, and got to work, colouring in the evening while watching TV, or at work when she had a writing block or needed to come up with creative ideas. “It is an extremely relaxing and fun exercise, so I’m not surprised they’ve become popular,” she says. “I find colouring to be very meditative and calming and it allows me to just be in the present by giving a break to my brain.”

Buy them in the UAE

• At Kinokuniya at The Dubai Mall, a spokesperson estimated that the demand for colouring books has increased by 85 per cent in recent months. “So we’re now ordering huge quantities of these books.”

Kinokuniya offers a wide range of colouring books for adults. Popular titles in store include Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Colouring Book by Johanna Basford and Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom – A Colouring Book Adventure. You can shop online and get your books delivered within the UAE at www.kinokuniya.com/ae.

• Magrudy’s also reports an increase in the sales of adult-colouring books as well as associated items from their crafts and stationery department. “Searches online for these titles and associated products have increased month-on-month, as have sales online at Magrudy.com,” says Bala Subramanian, chief officer of buying for Magrudy’s. “It’s definitely a growing trend that we’ve seen develop in Europe and the US, and one predicted to grow further in the next 12 months.”

Magrudy’s has a number of stores throughout the UAE, including at Al Wahda Mall in Abu Dhabi. Some of the popular titles at its branches include The Gorgeous Colouring Book for Grown-Ups: Discover Your Inner Creative by various artists and Birds & Butterflies: Colouring for Mindfulness by Alice Chadwick.

• Alternatively, you can download free colouring pages on the Patterns for Colouring website at www.patternsforcolouring.com.


Updated: June 7, 2015 04:00 AM

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