Inside The Lines, Outside The Mind


Emilie Ma

Having just finished her Marine Biology test, Palo Alto High School senior Claire Krugler reaches into her backpack to pull out the newest addition to her book collection. Krugler, however, does not begin to read. Instead, she begins to color. As her creative instincts strike, her colored pencils follow the lines and curves of the image, slowly but surely filling in the blank jungle scene in front of her.

In the past years, the popularity of adult coloring books has risen rapidly, so much so that they have even earned themselves spots on The New York Times Best Sellers List.  But why have coloring books become such a sought-after pastime? One reason why the books have become so successful — at least in the eyes of some Paly students — is due to presumed mental health benefits from daily activities some say the books provide.

Senior Nicole Cox says that, for her, coloring is a relaxing pastime that helps her de-stress and unwind from her hectic schedule. Cox also appreciates that coloring allows her to bring seemingly flat and dull images to life.

“They [the books] are very relaxing and fun, it’s kind of crafty … and it’s a good feeling afterwards, too,” Cox says.

Sophie Swezey, another senior, agrees with Cox.

“I like coloring because it’s therapeutic; it’s simple yet fun,” Swezey says. “Once you finish it, it all comes together and every mistake is unnoticeable. Everything just works and you get to appreciate it.”

Swezey actively promotes coloring books by regularly hosting coloring parties for family and her friends. The get-togethers first started when Swezey, trying to find something to do over winter break, turned to coloring.

“We just said, ‘Let’s color!’” Swezey says. “It’s really fun because you get to socialize, and it’s just really calming.”

With all of the adult coloring book options there are, it is hard to find the best ones on the market. Both Cox and Swezey agree that Scottish artist and illustrator Johanna Basford’s books come out on top.

Basford arguably has the most popular coloring books, her collection including “Secret Garden,” “Enchanted Forest,” and “Lost Ocean.” According to a New York Times article, Basford has become extremely popular in South Korea, where her “Secret Garden” book has sold over 430,000 copies. The three books consist of hidden objects, mazes, endless numbers of intricate designs unique to each book’s theme and even blank spaces where Basford allows the colorer to add his or her own drawings and ideas. Other books offer popular images, such as mandalas, which are circles detailed with complex patterns.

While some people might still view coloring books as an activity reserved specifically for kids, Swezey disagrees with this sentiment.

“Don’t pay attention to the stigma that surrounds coloring because once you try it you’ll really love it,” Swezey says. “Coloring is usually thought of as a juvenile pastime, but I think that we’re transforming that one coloring book at a time.”

Print out the coloring page below!coloringpage2 coloringpage2