Coloring books a new, fun holiday activity for both young and old
Published 11:00 am Saturday, November 7, 2015
By Cathy Hay
Step aside, cartoon characters and Crayola crayons. Make way for sophisticated designs and Prismacolor pencils.
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Coloring books have grown up with intricate patterns, bold prints and detailed images.
The latest artsy trend has hit the Albert Lea Art Center with materials for sale in its Art on Broadway shop, and time to color during open studio on Wednesdays. Over a recent lunch hour, Art Center members Leo Held and Ruth Olson colored “Whimsical Prints” while visiting and sharing hints over coffee.
“This is all it takes to be an artist,” Held said. “You can color.”
Held manages the Art on Broadway shop for the Art Center on a volunteer basis, stocking supplies for artists and classes, along with special ordering.
“The quality of the pencil makes a difference. You can blend them; you can smooth them,” Olson said as she used Prismacolor pencils to make a flamingo stand out in vivid pink. “And there are no lines. It looks natural.”
Coloring books are an easy and inexpensive way to try different media. Artists of any abilities can smear or blend oil pencils with cotton balls, Q-tips or their fingertips to create different colors and effects. Held noted that wax pencils blend the best. The Prismacolor sets include a colorless pencil for blending and smearing colors.
Water color pencils offer the options of using the pencil dry or adding water to create paint. Olson, who paints with watercolors and oils, likes to touch a brush to the pencil tip to pick up color.
Artists can also color with paint, markers and traditional crayons.
With adult coloring books, people can create frame-worthy pieces relatively easily. One idea is to coordinate colors or prints and then frame and/or hang them together to create a mural effect. One could also create a multi-generational art piece by having each child or grandchild color a sheet for display.
Coloring books and media are portable and make an enjoyable way to pass the time while traveling, whether waiting in an airport, riding in a car or lounging by the water.
The “Whimsical Prints” coloring book is by artist Holly Sue Foss of Minneapolis. The prints are simple enough for children to color, while adults can use patterns and other effects to make them more detailed. Art on Broadway sells the books for $15 each or two for $25. Each book includes 22 pages, 11 by 16 inches in size. The shop also sells Prismacolor pencils, a set of 12 for $20, 24 for $40 or 48 for $80.
Amazon, along with Barnes and Noble, offer adults coloring books starting at about $6. They’re often billed as mindfulness or anti-stress art.
“Coloring can calm a child,” Olson said.
The same goes for adults. It gives people of all ages something to do with their hands. The repetitious motion is soothing, yet the creativity is stimulating.
With the upcoming holidays, adult coloring books make a fun gift idea and a great activity for all generations at gatherings.
Held recalled spending an afternoon coloring with his grandchildren, ages 10 to 14 at the time.
“We sat all afternoon,” he said. “We were talking and coloring. We thoroughly enjoyed it.”
If you go
What: Coloring books for adults and other art activities
Who: Albert Lea Art Center members; note you need not be an artist to be a member
Where: Albert Lea Art Center, 226 W. Clark St.
When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays
Materials: Bring your own or purchase coloring books and other art supplies at the Art on Broadway shop