Frank Phillips Library Columns

” Color Me . . .” by Frank Phillips

In this fast paced world of instant access and communication of all media, drone flyovers (official and unofficial), and a sub 24 hour news cycle, personal time and what we do with it has become a precious commodity. The Heartland Library Cooperative’s shelves are laden with volumes encouraging, teaching, and supporting a myriad of subjects that can be embraced and practiced to our personal satisfaction. These subjects can be researched at the libraries’ catalog computers that will then direct you to the particular book, e Book, DVD, or VHS item that will hopefully satisfy your quest for specific information regarding the endeavor you choose. As an example, my better 2/3 has begun the pursuit of watercolor art and after a couple of local classes has turned out 3 products that I think are great. I was able to research and easily find a book entitled Building Brilliant Watercolors by Judy D. Treman that provided another excellent level of reference and instruction for her to enhance this activity. Our personal time activities often reflect our personalities and our time of life. As an example in my younger years I read to learn, to explore, and to be entertained. Now I read to read. It provides a tranquil respite from whatever events are circling at that time and offers a reset button for my mind. I am able to join the writer and the characters of their story in an interlude of escape and vicarious effort to be part of the words and pages that move forward. I am confident that whatever things people pursue with their personal time are targeted for the sheer joy of escaping from the norm and injecting themselves into an enjoyable world where they get to be the sole occupant for a period of time. This brings us to a discussion of one of the latest areas that spare time fun seekers have discovered, the world of adult coloring books.

The Little FolksAs defined by Wikipedia, a coloring book “is a type of book containing line art to which a reader may add color using crayons, colored pencils, marker pens, paint or other artistic media. The McLoughlin Brothers are credited as the inventors of the coloring book when in the 1880s, they produced The Little Folks’ Painting Book in collaboration with Kate Greenaway. They continued to publish coloring books until the 1920s, when the McLoughlin Brothers became part of the Milton Bradley Company.” Coloring books have been employed over the years for educational, health, therapeutic, and even for political uses such as the John F. Kennedy Coloring Book created by Mort Drucker and Paul Laikin in 1962 which sold 2.5 million copies.

My personal memories of coloring books is tinged with childhood frustration. Besides not being able to stay consistently within the lines, even on a full page duck or bunny, I had the penchant for pressing so hard on the crayons, that my crayon collection was replete with 2 inch stubs. Had there been a coloring school, I’m sure I would have been sent off. Instead I was blessed with a new box of crayons and admonition of, “Frankie, you don’t have to press so hard to make the color come out.” I was actually thrilled when I became old enough to view coloring books as a child’s activity and below my station in life at the time. This allowed me to move away comfortably from the world of junior arts and crafts.

The current adult coloring book evolution can be traced back to 2011 when a British publishing house solicited a children’s coloring book from an artist more popular for her commercial illustration work such as hand-drawn black and white patterns for wine labels and perfume bottles. The Scottish artist, Johanna Basford, asked instead to create a coloring book for adults. She based this on her knowledge that adults enjoyed coloring in her black SECRET GARDENand white labels. Since its release in 2013 her effort “Secret Garden: An Inky  Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book” has sold more than 2 million copies worldwide. The trend has mushroomed, aided no doubt by social media which presents an electronic canvas for “colorers” to post their finished products on Facebook and the like. The nostalgic nature of this fad is certainly appealing to adults perhaps due to the well-publicized belief that a calming and quieting benefit results from this creative activity. Testifying to the increased popularity of adult coloring is the revealing statistic that at the end of June 2015, 5 of the top 30 titles on amazon’s best-seller list were adult coloring books, with over 2000 titles of the genre, now in print.

Your local Heartland Cooperative Library offers a comfortable environment for your coloring activity. In addition, there are many internet sites offering free copies of a myriad of pages to color which can be printed at the library for a nominal fee. As this trend continues, your library will be shelving the many instructional and topical books that are sure to follow the coloring books themselves. Who knows, the library might even sponsor an adult coloring contest! So if you’re already into adult coloring, enjoy. If not, it’s worth looking into for the many personal benefits it offers. I might even try to stay in the lines this time, helped along by the use of colored pencils instead of crayons.