Adult coloring books are a fairly new phenomenon, but one that’s quietly taking the nation by storm. In fact, as of this writing, three of the top eight Amazon Best Sellers are adult coloring books, beating out blockbusters like Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See and The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins. That’s not all—14 of the top 20 books in Amazon’s Crafts, Hobbies, and Home section are adult coloring books, as well.
"Coloring is a rhythmic, absorbing, and accessible activity and that is why people find it so relaxing," says Debra Matsumoto, the U.S. Press and Marketing Manager at Laurence King, a top publisher of adult coloring books. "It doesn't require much artistic ability or specific talent. … It is not expensive. It can be done alone or with others, while still holding on a conversation. It is rewarding because you complete something and then have something to show for your efforts in the end."
Read on for more on adult coloring books, plus our top picks.
Titles: Secret Garden andEnchanted Forest
Artist: Johanna Basford
Thanks to grassroots support, Scottish illustrator Basford’s gorgeous compendiums are consistently ranked among the top-selling books—never mind coloring books—in the country. "The popularity of Secret Gardenand then Enchanted Forest grew by word of mouth—the greatest compliment," says Matsumoto. "Everyone from tweens, their mothers, and grandparents are coloring in our books." Outdoorsmen and women will love the focus on leaves, trees, flowers, and nature, while the casual colorer will be absorbed by the detailed patterns and arresting scenes. Basford’s next book, Lost Ocean, is due October 27.
Titles: Art Masterpieces to Colorand Art Noveau Animal Designs
Artist: Marty Noble
Florida-based artist Noble is one of the most prolific adult coloring book illustrators around, tackling every subject from Medieval Tapestries to traditional Indian designs with characteristic excellence. Art Masterpieces is among her most popular works, giving fans the opportunity to color famous paintings from Van Gogh, Botticelli, Cassatt, and more. Art Nouveau Animal Designs consists of Noble’s own, original drawings, based on the illustration-oriented style popular in the early 20th Century. Both books are wonderful opportunities to learn about different eras in art (and relax, too).
Titles: Balance and Centered
Artist: Angie Grace
Symmetry and balance are major themes in Grace’s beautifully detailed books, offering page after page of pretty, precise circular designs intended to calm stressed colorers. Hundreds of fans have submitted finished works on her Facebook page, and you can see some of Grace’s own completed art on her website,AngieGrace.com. Bonus: For those looking beyond circles, she’s also illustrated dozens of additional pattern-based tomes, all of which are worth a gander.
Books: Splendid Cities andSecret Paris
Artists: Rosie Goodwin/Alice Chadwick and Zoe de Las Cases
For those looking to get away without paying for a plane ticket, these metro-based coloring books are the way to go. Splendid Citiesevokes international flavor through stylized patterns specific to global destinations, including European architecture and Middle Eastern textiles. De Las Cases’ works, on the other hand, are less pattern-based and more whimsical, reminiscent of the best children’s illustrations; she’s also published books based on New York and Tokyo. Either book is a great buy, however, for those needing a vacation.
Titles: Creative Cats and Owls
Artist: Marjorie Semat
Short, sweet, and inexpensive, these wildly popular and well-reviewed books by Chicago-born artist Semat include 30 illustrations each. Every page is filled with the animals of note, as well as dozens of smaller patterns—perfect for artfully whiling the time away. Kids will especially appreciate the cute critters, and the finished products are potentially frame-worthy.
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