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Colouring in for grown ups

Reviews — Posted 26/08/15

Here's why adults are picking up the coloured pencils to spark creativity, practise mindfulness and de-stress.

Who remembers colouring in as a child? Those absorbing hours spent concentrating on nothing but the image you were slowly bringing to life in front of you. While much more elaborate in their outlines, the growing range of adult colouring books aims to evoke the same soothing, calming mood in adults as a basic set of coloured pencils is used to create sophisticated pieces of art. 

Adult colouring is a simple way of aiming to restore a sense of balance, confidence and relaxation in your life. Mindfully focusing on one task, thinking about harmonious combinations of colour, working with your hands and taking a breather from all things digital are just a few of the ways this new form of art therapy helps achieve this. 

Whether you’re exploring how colours work to complement, contrast and create different moods, playing around with a looser, freer style of doodling or bringing to life rhythmic, geometric patterns and designs, these books offer a new way to experience that sense of calm that comes with focusing on a simple task. 

Already in high demand in the UK – at the time of writing, Amazon UK has four adult colouring books among its Top 10 best sellers – this activity is set to become increasingly popular in Australia. To give it a go, we took a look at Hardie Grant’s three new colouring books, Creative Therapy, Colour Therapy and Art Therapy.

Art therapy in practice

We tried the Colour Therapy colouring book, spending about an hour out in the sun working on the decorative pineapple. While you can go down any colour path, the colour wheel at the beginning was a useful way to learn what colours complement each another and what mood each one represents. The drawing we chose was in the ‘yellow’ chapter, so we stuck to using yellows, purples and green pencils. 

One of the main reasons it felt relaxing is that you’re working within defined shapes, and building up the overall design section by section. The tiny sections can be as detailed as you want to make them, and as you start to see it all begin to take shape, it feels quite calming. 

Working with limited colours, you start using each colour in different ways, softly shading or pressing more firmly to vary the tone. It feels oddly resourceful creating these different shades out of the one pencil. As the images are so pretty, it’s hard to mess up – which is sort of soothing in itself, and you can just focus on applying the colour as you move across the work. 

While nice solo, this would definitely be a fun group activity. Colouring in party anyone? 

Creative Therapy, Colour Therapy and Art Therapy are now available from Hardie Grant Books

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