By Joseph Robertia
Coloring, once considered a fond pastime from childhood, is no longer viewed as a frivolous venture restricted to the youngest members of society.
“Adult coloring is becoming popular nationwide and at libraries across the country, so we thought we’d try adding it to our programming and seeing what the community’s response was,” said Reilly Selmser, a clerk at the Soldotna Public Library.
The library’s first adult coloring class was in November, and there has been half a dozen people coming each week since.
The designs are also not the simple outlines of cartoon characters, as is common with children’s coloring books. There are elaborate nature depictions, complex fantasy scenes and circular mandalas, just to name a few. And rather than crayons, colored pencils or narrow-tipped markers tend to be the medium of choice.
“They work better on the fine lines and intricate details,” Selmser said.
Jamie Morton, of Soldotna, was one of the participants in last week’s coloring class. She said that after a long day dealing with the responsibilities of adult life, it is therapeutic to come color for an hour.
“I like coloring for the anti-stressing part of it. It’s very relaxing,” she said.
Morton said that she was not an avid colorer as a kid, but has been making up for the lost time now that the library has been offering the program weekly.
“My 12-year-old daughter and I frequent the library and I brought her to one and we really enjoyed it,” she said.
While not yet adult, Morton’s daughter, Briley, has outgrown interest in kids’ coloring books. She’s also enjoyed the calmness that the adult coloring program brings.
“It’s a good way to work stuff out in your head,” she said.
The Kenai Community Library also has recently added an adult coloring program to its monthly lineup of weekend events. Amy Murrel-Haunold, an aid at library, agreed that many participants use the activity to unwind after a week at work. Like knitting or crocheting, it keeps hands busy while letting minds wander.
“It’s relaxing because you don’t have to think about anything, and you’re around other adults who are open and approving of the idea of sitting around coloring,” she said.
Murrel-Haunold said that being creative into adulthood should be encouraged. Coloring is a way to recapture the creative spirit, especially for those who might be out of practice.
“Our first rule is there are no rules, which helps with people feeling anxious their first time,” Murrel-Haunold said.
She said the goal is just getting people to come try something new at a time of year when they might be feeling the effects of the season.
“Sure, coloring is something they could do at home, but this gets them out of the house, away from phone calls and emails, in a nice, quiet place where they can relax. We’ve been getting about four to five people per month, which isn’t many, but the ones who come have really liked it, so as we get into January, February and March, when cabin fever can really kick in, we’re hoping to see an upswing,” she said.
Murrel-Haunold said that the library also is working o make it possible for people to check out coloring materials in house, so they can find their own space within the library to work on a coloring design.
For more information on upcoming adult coloring programs, check out the libraries’ monthly calendars on their Web pages.