August 14th, 2015

Eileen Treasure, Fine Art Consultant

I stopped in Barnes and Noble yesterday, and one side of the entry was filled with coloring books for adults. I’m an artist, I’ve taught art and I work in an art gallery, and I have missed this phenomenon going on — apparently, they are all the rage. I snatched one up for myself, “Scandinavian Folk Patterns,” and one for my 26 year old son, “Mandalas.”

I remember the warnings “professionals” stated about coloring books when I was young. “Coloring books limit your potential creativity!” It bothered me for a second, but I loved coloring, so I filled dozens of books, and I gave them to my children who all turned out to be very creative and artistic. All coloring is good just like all drawing and doodling is good — “Keep at it!” I would tell my students.

Here is an excerpt from a recent article posted on Artnet News:

Experts Warn Adult Coloring Books Are Not Art Therapy

Sarah Cascone, Friday, August 7, 2015

An adult coloring book.
Photo: Passion for Pencils, YouTube screenshot.

Experts are questioning the therapeutic benefits of adult coloring books, one of 2015’s biggest and perhaps most-unexpected art trends, widely touted for its stress-relieving benefits.

According to Jo Kelly, president the Australian and New Zealand Arts Therapy Association, however, adult coloring books are no replacement for an in-the-flesh art therapist.

“An arts therapist is a qualified, trained individual who helps people and uses creative processes,” insisted Kelly to ABC. She admits that by encouraging people to set time aside for their own enjoyment, adult coloring books have their benefits, “but to sort of suggest that it’s a sort of creative art expression, you’re actually using other people’s designs—why not make your own?”

It’s the same argument they used decades ago, but honestly, it’s just plain fun.

Art therapy—if we have to call it that—happens when we look at a piece of art, talk about art, doodle in a meeting, color in patterns in a coloring book or sit at an easel and paint.