Interest in colouring for grown-ups surges

Red Deer Public Library hosts monthly colouring program

  • Jan. 27, 2016 3:41 p.m.

Who said we had to give up the fun of colouring by the time we reached a certain age?

More and more grown-ups are snapping up colouring books these days – actually, it’s more like an exploding trend – and settling into something of a renaissance in terms of exploring a new artistic expression.

‘Colouring Time for Adults’ runs the first Thursday of each month in the Snell Gallery of the Red Deer Public Library (downtown Branch). Sessions runs from 7 to 8:30 p.m. But beyond that, folks are invited to drop by the branch up on level four anytime to colour.

Five of the top 20 selling books on Amazon are adult colouring books, said Kim Whiting, who facilitates the program.

“It’s almost not enough time – some people end up taking their work home with them,” she explains, referring to the 90-minute sessions.

Pencil crayons are provided, along with black markers and the colouring sheets from a particular book as well. “We try to have a theme for every colouring session,” she said.

“We tend to look at the popularity of books to see what we think our members might be interested in,” she said, of the program, which was launched last September. Right off the bat, about 18 people initially showed up.

“We were impressed with the good turnout – and then on the next date, we had 40.

“Now we have people bringing their own colouring books and their own pencil crayons,” she said. “There have been people coming to the group from the very beginning, and they are getting more into it. There’s something companionable about it – there’s some chatting but not much; they’re pretty quiet,” she added, smiling. “It’s kind of peaceful to be with a group of people.”

According to, “Johanna Basford, from Aberdeen, Scotland, is the biggest superstar of the genre. Her previous books The Enchanted Forest and The Secret Garden have sold millions of copies worldwide.

“Colouring seems to me to be the sedentary equivalent of taking a walk, a chance to preoccupy yourself on a basic level while your mind runs free, within parameters.”

Time and again, folks tell Whiting how relaxing they find the activity.

“You have to focus on the design, which I think is part of the reason it works for de-stressing,” she added. “You can’t really think of anything else. So for a period of time, your mind just goes to that zone and you just colour. It’s kind of a meditative form.

“People also tell me they can feel all their stress just wash away – so many people do it for that reason. Others also do it because they want to be creative – but they also want a starting point,” she said. “They don’t feel perhaps like they can begin with drawing a design. But if the design is there, they’re good with colouring it.

“Other people like to do an activity while they are doing something else. That surprised me, but there are a few who will colour while they are watching a television program. They are so used to multi-tasking so they will do this to kind of quieten that part of their minds while they are doing something else.”

Liz Craig said colouring is very relaxing. “A friend of mine had been talking about it. Then I noticed they were having it here, so I figured it would be worthwhile to check out,” she said, adding that colouring is also about focusing, which in turn helps with things like stress and depression.

Shirley Piro described herself as a “wannabe” artist. “Something like adult colouring feeds the creative soul in me – I really enjoy it. There’s no right or wrong either; I can use any colours I want. And if I colour outside of the line, I just make it part of the picture,” she added with a laugh. She said at the monthly sessions, sometimes everyone will colour the same picture and other times they are given different images to colour. With the extremely intricate designs, it’s also a rather time-consuming activity in the very best way.

Mavis St. Louis agreed that it’s a relaxing pastime. “My daughter introduced me to it,” she said. “With this, I can also express my creativity. I love playing with colour,” she said. “It’s fun. I also read a lot too, so this gives me a break.”

Janet Kruijer explained that she joined up because she saw St. Louis colouring in the library one day, so she thought she would give it a try as well. “She said how much fun it was,” she said, adding the social component of it is also a plus.

She is recommending it to friends.

St. Louis is as well. “They don’t know what they’re missing,” she added, chuckling.

Ultimately, it’s a welcome trend in an overly busy, often consistently stressed population.

“It kind of gives you permission to take some time,” said Whiting. “Because you are still ‘doing something’, you feel like, ‘I have permission to do this.’”

No registration for the Thursday night program is required.

For more information, check out or call 403-346-4576.

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