- Associated Press - Monday, June 15, 2015

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - Tracey Forrest loves to color.

That might seem odd, considering Forrest is a stay-at-home mother of three. People like her, adults who color in their spare time, are becoming increasingly common, however.

Coloring books marketed for adults represent a growing industry, one supported by people such as Forrest, those who use coloring as a stress-reliever and a way to escape the pressures of everyday life.

“I’ve been doing it forever,” Forrest said about coloring. “And then, my mom just died in October, so I’ve really gotten back into it a lot to try to kind of keep me from being stressed and depressed. Then, I got on Facebook and saw all the coloring sites, and I decided to make one.”

She started her page, “Coloring Isn’t Just for Kids,” on Facebook a little over a month ago, and in that time, close to 600 people have “liked” it. This large group of coloring enthusiasts is no surprise to Forrest, who believes in the restorative power of the activity usually associated with children.

“It’s fun to do; it keeps you entertained; and mainly just relaxes you,” the Bloomington resident said. “And you make friends, you meet a lot of people that like to do what you like to do, even if it’s just going to the bookstore and meeting someone you pick out a coloring book with.”

Book Corner, at the intersection of Kirkwood Avenue and Walnut Street in Bloomington, is one such place where coloring artists may meet to select new canvases. The book shop carries hundreds of coloring volumes for adults and children, priced anywhere between $4 and $10. The display that houses these books is located immediately inside the front entrance, so it is one of the first shelves visitors see upon entering the store.

Book Corner owner Margaret Taylor says she has long carried coloring books, but they have been flying off the shelves over the past few years. She says the purchases are not restricted to any age group or either gender. People of all kinds like the coloring books, she says.

“Women buy them; men buy them. I had one gentleman in here who bought probably 20 or 25 at once one time. I thought he was buying them for his grandchildren because he was in his 60s, but he said, ‘Nope, these are for me.’”

Some of the coloring books Book Corner and other stores sell are still the children’s variety, but others are specifically made for adults. The latter are the kind Forrest uses for most of her creations, and those are the ones seeing growing sales in recent years.

Forrest specifically recommends the works of illustrator Johanna Basford for those wanting to color interesting and intricate designs, and she is not alone in doing so. Basford’s first published book, “Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Colouring Book,” topped Amazon.com’s best-selling book list in April, and her second effort, “Enchanted Forest: An Inky Quest and Coloring Book,” ascended to the No. 2 spot on the same list.

Basford’s books don’t feature the simple cartoon scenes and superheroes adults may remember from their childhood coloring days. As the title suggests, “Gardens” shows backyard scenes of plants and animals. These are far more intricate than children’s coloring books and often laid out in geometric shapes, requiring more advanced motor skills than a child would possess in order to stay within the lines.

Basford’s success illustrates the exploding popularity of coloring as a tool for relieving stress. The trend is recent, but it does not seem to be going away. Psychologists and therapists have helped this trend blossom by using coloring as a way to help their patients.

“A lot of people find coloring soothing; I think it’s the sensory aspect,” said Marti Faist, an art therapist in Indianapolis who has helped people with mental health and chemical dependency problems. “When someone is coloring, their mind and body are operating in a more integrated way. It’s almost a meditative process.

“I’ve watched people under acute stress, almost panic-attack level, color and have their blood pressure go down very quickly. It’s cathartic for them.”

With the popularity of coloring for adults rapidly growing, Forrest hopes her next step can be to organize meetings of adult coloring enthusiasts.

“I need to find enough people around that would be willing to go to a coloring group,” said Forrest, who colors between one and three hours on an average day. “We could go to the library and have groups and color, and I would love to do that.”

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Source: The (Bloomington) Herald-Times, https://bit.ly/1JsK7ut

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Information from: The Herald Times, https://www.heraldtimesonline.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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