- Associated Press - Saturday, December 13, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Twice a week or so, Amanda Ghiloni pulls out a coloring book and gussies up an animal, a Disney princess or a simple scene from a dollar-bin tablet.

Her coloring utensils of choice: “I love crayons.”

Not any type of crayons will do, however.

“I’m only a Crayola girl,” she said.

Ghiloni is 27.

She keeps her crayons organized in a plastic container and nicely sharpened - ready for use when the urge hits.

“I have a good 100 or so that cover the whole rainbow, plus black, grays and browns,” she said. “I probably have 10 different shades of each color.”

The occupational therapist, of Pataskala, sees coloring as mindless fun - or stress relief.

“It’s repetitive, and it doesn’t require a lot of thinking,” she said.

Apparently, the enduring childhood pastime isn’t just for youngsters and their parents.

Many other central Ohio adults also acknowledge a passion for coloring. (A recent Dispatch query about the topic on Facebook quickly drew more than 60 responses.)

Because of its therapeutic benefits, some mental-health professionals endorse the activity.

“I encourage any executive to say, ‘I’m going to spend the lunch hour coloring, doodling,’” said Leslie Marshall, a licensed professional clinical counselor with Directions Counseling Group in Worthington.

Coloring, she said, opens the frontal lobe of the brain - the home of organizing and problem solving - and focuses the mind.

“It allows us to not be too regretful of the past or too anxious about the future,” Marshall said. “It’s not that we want people to forget what it’s like to be in reality, but, for 20 minutes … we can push aside that stress.”

Such a notion probably explains the range of coloring books geared toward adults.

Included are books and websites devoted to geometric-shaped designs called mandalas; humorous options designed by comedians (Coloring for Grown-Ups and The Hipster Coloring Book for Adults); and posh alternatives - priced at $160 no less - sold by the French fashion house Hermes.

Earlier this year, Scott O’Brien - a Euclid, Ohio, native and Los Angeles resident - raised more than $23,000 on the crowd-funding site Kickstarter to create Why Is Daddy Sad on Sunday?

The coloring book depicts disappointing moments in Cleveland sports history and allows adults to share the moments with children. (Recently released is a companion coloring book, Why Is Daddy Happy on Sunday?)

Three months ago, central Ohio illustrator Katie Barron released a 98-page coloring book with scenes from Downtown, the Clintonville neighborhood, German Village and the Short North.

She had started the project in the spring of 2013 as a senior at the Columbus College of Art & Design, viewing it as an effective way to share her art without having to sell originals or produce commissions.

“Coloring - it’s kind of interactive,” said Barron, 24.

Her book, sold on Amazon.com and at eight area shops, includes activities, too.

Because of the intricate drawings, she said, she doesn’t recommend the book for anyone younger than 8.

“Adults do jigsaw puzzles,” she said. “There isn’t anything nerdier about coloring than (there is about) doing jigsaw puzzles.”

One day recently, Barron hosted a “coloring night” with a retailer, State & Third, that stocks her book.

Diane Lazor and Susan Brown, friends from Grove City, were among the 10 people at the event - with wine, colored pencils and a few pages from the book.

“I’ve always loved to color,” Lazor, 56, said as she shaded the leaves of a tree in an Ohio Theatre scene.

“We’ll color when the guys are watching football.”

Brown, a 48-year-old mortgage-company employee, receives crayons and a coloring book each year for Christmas from her family.

“It does relieve stress,” she said. “No two pages are ever the same.”

In recent weeks, New Albany resident Susan Clark has worked in a 368-page activity book called Scribbles by Japanese illustrator Taro Gomi.

Coloring books take the intimidation out of creativity, the 43-year-old said.

“When I’m coloring, I’m not thinking about anything but what’s in front of me,” said Clark, who has “quite the arrangement” of crayons, markers and colored pencils.

“It’s nothing earth-shattering, but it allows my mind to calm down.”

Some people don’t easily appreciate the simplicity of coloring, psychologist Craig Travis said.

“It gets you out of your adult mind, where you know nothing but problems,” said the director of behavioral sciences at OhioHealth Grant Medical Education.

“It breaks from the patterns and habits we have.”

Adults who color, Travis said, might like how they are carried back to their carefree youth and the age of wonder.

Even the smell of crayons, clinical counselor Marshall said, evokes nostalgia.

Chris Blanton of Columbus looks forward to Crayola releases of new colors and the accompanying clever names.

For the holidays, the 32-year-old has asked his family for crayons and coloring books - preferably with Disney and comic-book themes.

Coloring, Blanton said, relaxes him after long days of work as an account manager for a cleaning company.

“It’s soothing,” he said. “I can go be a child again. And all the problems of the day - I don’t have to sit and think about them.”

___

Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com

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