Coloring Is Finally Cool!

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Years ago my Grandma taught me coloring is fun, relaxing, and even therapeutic. The recent explosion in the popularity of coloring books tells me the rest of the world has figured out that she was right.

When I was a kid, I had the usual simple coloring books – Barbie, Garfield, and Rocky & Bullwinkle. I actually still have them and do occasionally indulge in a little childhood nostalgia by coloring one of the few remaining blank pages.

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My old childhood coloring books. Bullwinkle and Rocky was my favorite.

However, as I got older the need for a challenge and creative inspiration lead to the discovery of Dover coloring books for adults. Intricate images of botanicals, animals, geometric design (everything from Turkish tiles to stained glass windows), mandalas, and even Medieval Tapestries kept my colored pencils endlessly busy.

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Some of my favorite coloring books. I will happily spend hours and hours on a single page.

Not only was coloring a great stress reliever throughout college and beyond, it was something I did with my Grandma and sister. We shared coloring books, colored pencils, and the best conversations. As we sat and colored in teeny tiny spaces, we talked about everything, laughed, and had an all out wonderful time together.

We also created a few masterpieces along the way …

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Both of these came from the Decorative Tile Designs coloring book. Grandma’s is on the left and mine is on the right. 

When Grandma started having small strokes, we immediately saw a difference in her motor skills and speech. Yet, we still pulled out the coloring books. It turned out coloring was an amazing source of physical therapy. Holding colored pencils and having some control over where the color went made it possible for Grandma to retain a bit more dexterity. Not to mention the mental exercise of maintaing focus.

Coloring helped hold her together a little bit longer, even after dementia began to set in. Towards the end colors started going a bit outside the lines, but she was still with us – sharing laughter and stories.

One of the more meaningful things I inherited from my Grandma was her stack of coloring books. I keep them safe along with my own. Every once in a while, I’ll pull one out and color a page or two. It brings back beautiful memories and makes all my stress melt away at the same time.

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Grandma’s Coloring Books. In particular we all loved working the Floral Alphabet book.

At my local bookstore, what started as a small display of coloring books has grown into three entire shelves. People are flocking to it and actually buying coloring books filled with fancy shmancy designs. It makes me smile and I hope they find the same joy I do every time I open a coloring book.

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The coloring book display at my local Barnes & Noble. I’ve got my eye on the travel book. That looks like fun!

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c.b.w. 2015

Favorite Thing Friday: Hand Turkeys

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I haven’t thought of a hand turkey in years, but for some reason the memory of those ridiculous five-finger turkeys hit me this Thanksgiving. This wonderful memory made me laugh and brought back the feeling of childhood fun.  That fun feeling was so strong, I grabbed a box of crayons and got to work.

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Remember these?
This amazing piece of art was created by: c.b.w.

I gave him some fancy feathers and imagined a reason for the turkey to gobble. Red, orange, and brown turned my turkey into an autumn leaf for a moment. But then, his beak and feet set the record straight. He looks pretty good, don’t you think?

Go ahead and make one. You know you want to. 😉

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2013

Scribble Diary: It’s Hot

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It’s been a long time since I dug into my Scribble Diary, but a recent heat wave inspired me to pull it out again and have some fun.

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Scribble Diary June 30, 2013

The wheel of “possible scenarios” reflects the varying degrees of a summer day in Arizona. From Friday to Sunday of last week, I’d say we were stuck in hell. At the time, I was reading The Inferno by Dante Alighieri, which is probably what inspired my interpretation of the weather. I’m still chuckling at how spot on perfect my reading choice was in relation to real life.

As for the “yet to decide” square, I’m still on the fence. One theater is playing the newest film version of Much Ado About Nothing, but driving 20 miles on a freeway full of potential heat stroke victims does not sound like fun.

The fact that I don’t have to work in the summer made the “ups and downs” chart a little tricky. I’m basically on vacation everyday, which means I’m in a constant state of “up.” However, once I took the heat into consideration it was easier to find the “downs.” For the record, I got my chocolate home before it melted thanks to smartly bagging it together with frozen peas.

Happy Birthday to my sister, who I love so much!

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c.b.w. 2013

For You, Mom

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I’m hoping this will make you smile, as it is a little joke based on something you said last week.  The coloring book is brand new and I colored a page just for you, (and so did my wonderful sister).

Love you a lot, Mom!

You’ll get the real thing, along with a cup of coffee and a cookie (all my treat) when we get together for our usual writing session.  You’re an amazing mom and incredible best friend.  Thank you for being such a powerful and loving presence in my life.

Happy Mother’s Day from your perpetual little girl. Love you!

p.s. I still have my original Care Bear stuffed animal from 1983.  And, of course, that’s the bear I colored!

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c.b. 2012

Coloring Isn’t Just For Kids

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While paging through my Wreck This Journal, I came across the “Test Page” where there are instructions to use the space to test out crayons, paints, and other art supplies. The test page reminded me of something I always did in my coloring books as a kid and now as an adult. As a five-year-old and a 34- year-old, I’ve always created color swatches on the inside cover before coloring anything on an actual page.

Scribble, scribble!

Yes, I still color.  Even though it’s an activity mostly reserved for children, I find immense joy in the practice of filling blank spaces with color whether it be Garfield or an intricate Medieval tapestry.  I love how the image changes when color is added, the smell of crayons and colored pencils, the swishing sound of a crayon going back and forth, and the feeling of accomplishment when the page is completed.  The process is very relaxing and cathartic when real life threatens to turn everything black and white.

My drawer is filled with at least twenty coloring books.  Some are brand new while others have been with me since I was a little girl.  The oldest one I have is a Bullwinkle and Rocky coloring book I’ve had since I was about eight years old.  My juvenile scribbles scrawl across half of it, right beside the pages I colored just last week.  Yup, I still color Bullwinkle and all his friends! The inner child in me rejoices, (and she really giggled when I bought a new Smurfs coloring book a few months ago).

Garfield, Barbie, and Bullwinkle are relics from my childhood, but I still color in them on a regular basis. The Smurfs coloring book is a brand new addition to my collection!

Last week’s coloring creation.

When I’m looking for a challenge, I delve into my collection of Dover coloring books which contain highly artistic plates ranging from intricate tile patterns, butterflies, Egyptian art, and complicated geometric designs.  My muse is always challenged to come up with interesting color palettes to fill in all the blank spaces.

Dover coloring books offer unique and artistic images.

From my Medieval Tapestry Coloring Book. It probably took a total of 4 hours to complete.

I stock a wide variety of coloring supplies and I’m always a sucker for something new.  I have everything from crayons (regular, glitter, metallic, variegated,), colored pencils, markers (fat, skinny, classic, bold, and bright), Twistables, glitter glue, and metallic gel pens.  Every time I sit down to color, I make a huge mess and lay out all my coloring utensils.  The possibilities are endless and I love the sense freedom that comes from all those colors.

Part of my collection of coloring supplies.

Once I’ve chosen what coloring book to play in and what image to color, I set about finding the color combinations.  That means making color swatches on a piece of scratch paper or on the inside cover.  After a while, the swatches make for an interesting piece of art in and of themselves.

With all the colors chosen, I let myself get lost in the moment.  If the image is particularly complicated, two hours (or more) will easily fly by without my knowledge.  I’m totally absorbed and the outside world just disappears.  All that matters is color.  No one is ever too old to bask in shades of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.

Go ahead and grab some crayons.  You know you want to.

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c.b. 2012