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Grown-ups find relaxation in filling in adult coloring books

| Friday, June 26, 2015, 5:58 p.m.
'Nature Mandalas' coloring page from Dover Publications
'Nature Mandalas' coloring page from Dover Publications
One of the paisley drawings by  Teresa Roberts Logan
One of the paisley drawings by Teresa Roberts Logan
An 'Incredible Insect' coloring page from Dover Publications
An 'Incredible Insect' coloring page from Dover Publications
Jan Basford's 'Secret Garden' coloring book
Jan Basford's 'Secret Garden' coloring book
On of several offerings in Dover's Creative Haven Coloring Book series
On of several offerings in Dover's Creative Haven Coloring Book series
Asuka Satow's 'Where in the World is Koneko Cat?' coloring book
Asuka Satow's 'Where in the World is Koneko Cat?' coloring book

Roll up your yoga mat, cancel your massage appointment and pick up a crayon.

An ever-increasing selection of adult coloring books offers a fun and creative way to relieve tension for about the cost of an average bottle of cabernet.

Softbound books with titles such as “Posh Adult Coloring Book: Art Therapy for Fun and Relaxation” or “Color Me Calm: 100 Coloring Templates for Meditation and Relaxation” are filled with page after page of intricate, detailed and just plain beautiful design patterns that promise to clear your mind and help you to relax and unwind.

“Part of the appeal is that people are looking to be unplugged,” says Ken Katzman, vice president of marketing for Dover Publications.

Unlike the simple line drawings you filled in when you were a child, the images in these books are packed with black-and-white inked curlicues, spirals, swirls and paisleys that invite people to begin embellishing with pencils, crayons or felt-tipped pens. It's easy to lose track of time while filling in the multiple sections of a peacock's full-spread tail or the circuitous circles and rays of multiple flower petals.

“The great thing about coloring books is that you don't need glue or scissors. You can toss everything you need into your purse or a briefcase,” says Teresa Roberts Logan, a Washington, D.C., artist who is creating a coloring book of paisley designs for Andrews McMeel Publishing, to be released in early 2016.

Coloring someone else's inked-in images offers rewards to those frustrated by their failed attempts at drawing, Logan thinks.

“The pressure of pen and blank paper is stressful for people. To sit down with markers and a coloring book is (easier),” Logan says. “No one is going to critique it or grade it. There's no pressure to come up with an image.”

Some of the books are filled with a random selection of flowers, complex geometric patterns, fantasy creatures or whimsical buildings.

Others, such as Johanna Basford's mega best-seller (1.4 million copies and counting) “Secret Garden” or Asuka Satow's recently published “Where in the World is Koneko Cat?,” send you on a journey punctuated by mazes, hidden objects and visual surprises.

“Most people are looking for something with intricate detail,” says Patty Rice, senior editor at Andrews McMeel Publishing. “Pretty designs outsell everything. People like pretty floral designs.”

Coloring books that appeal to adults are hardly a new phenomenon. Dover has been publishing them since the early 1970s, Katzman points out.

But this latest swell of interest has certainly created a tidal wave of new titles and buyers.

• Dover has sold 3 million books from its Creative Haven Coloring Book series of 20 books designed for adult colorists since launching the new line in 2013.

• Two years after its 2013 launch, Basford's “Secret Garden” holds the No. 3 spot on Barnes & Noble's best-seller's list.

• Adult coloring books hold eight of the top nine places in Amazon's list of best-selling arts and photography books.

The trend shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

In the coming year, Andrews McMeel Publishing plans to add adult coloring books with inspirational quotes imbedded among the flowers and flourishes.

In October, Marvel will launch a line of adult comic books with its “Age of Ultron Coloring Book,” the first of three titles planned for release this fall.

Not to be outdone, Dover Books recently took the trend full circle with “Spark,” a new series of coloring books aimed at those ages 7 to 10.

Alice T. Carter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7808, or via Twitter @ATCarter_Trib.

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