- Associated Press - Sunday, September 27, 2015

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - Whitney Arnold cradled a sharpened pencil in her hand, adding flourishes of color to sheets of paper containing geometric patterns and — her favorite — intricate floral designs.

“I love coloring,” said Arnold, of Dubuque, swapping one bright, long and slender colored pencil for another. “I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember. There’s just something so therapeutic and relaxing about it. It brings me back to childhood.”

The age-old pastime of putting color to paper is enjoying a resurgence — but not necessarily among little tykes. Grown-ups recently have taken to picking up coloring books and colored pencils in favor of a trend that’s scribbling the globe — adult coloring.

Arnold said she discovered it several years ago as a way to let stress subside during her final exams. She’s kept it up ever since.

“During the week of finals, I would carry around stacks of coloring books with me,” said the Loras College grad. “People would join me, and we’d just sit and color. It just allows you to zone out. You’re completely immersed in what you’re doing.”

Though Arnold might have been ahead of the curve, within the past year, enthusiasm has grown noticeably for adult coloring. A plethora of coloring books, templates you can download and other coloring supplies have hit the market.

Additionally, several adult coloring groups have been organized, enabling those who enjoy coloring to make it a social affair.

Carnegie-Stout Public Library recently offered an adult coloring session, complemented with cookies, tea and light classical music, the Telegraph Herald (https://bit.ly/1Lz9pHY ) reported.

“It’s so soothing,” said Amy Muchmore, an adult services librarian with Carnegie-Stout. “And, you don’t need to be an artist. There are no rules and no skills required. Anyone can do this.”

Nearly 30 turned out for the inaugural event.

For Susan Caldwell, of Bellevue, Iowa, it marked a new experience.

“I’m not sure yet if I’m any good at it,” said Caldwell, who attended with her friend Lorri Regan, of Dubuque. “I do a lot of crocheting at home. This just seemed like it would be meditative — that it would provide a lot of the same things.”

“It’s fun to do,” Regan chimed in. “And, it’s relaxing. You can just socialize with your friends and lose yourself in the mindset of coloring. It brings you into the moment.”

Another local coloring group met throughout the summer at Panera Bread to take in good food, good company and a whole lot of coloring.

“It started as a group of about four of us who teach at Washington Middle School,” said Elaine White Klein. “But people would constantly come up to us and ask what we were doing. I’ve since taken 8-10 names of people who were interested in joining us to color.”

Klein said she discovered the trend while shopping for a birthday present. She since has found adult coloring options of all kinds, as well as an international Facebook community.

“I love the creative aspect of it,” Klein said. “I also think it’s a great opportunity for a social outing. You wouldn’t think it would be relaxing since you’re concentrating. But it is. It just takes your mind off of everything else.”

To the contrary, words like “relaxing,” ”soothing” and “meditative” aren’t far off when describing how this childhood activity can benefit adults. And, the health perks go beyond relaxation.

According to doctors and psychologists, coloring exercises fine motor skills and helps the brain focus.

Doctors have been aware of the benefits since the early 1900s and continue to recommend the activity to combat anxiety.

In addition to coloring, some also have taken on activities such as doodling and Zentangle.

The latter is an abstract, patterned drawing created according to the tenets of the Zentangle Method and is used as a template in many adult coloring models.

The practice uses only black ink and integrates repetitive patterns. There are no rules; no preconceived plans; and no stencils, rulers or graph paper used.

Joann Wright, of Dubuque, combines Zentangle with adult coloring.

“It makes me so happy,” she said. “It’s so intricate and fascinating.”

Betty Bahl, of Dubuque, found an outlet through a doodling class at the Roberta Kuhn Center at Mount Carmel. She combines that with adult coloring.

“I’m not an artist, and I like that there is no right or wrong way to do it,” she said. “You can just do it and create something beautiful.”

___

Information from: Telegraph Herald, https://www.thonline.com


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