Contributed by Ed Sholty
Most of us did lots of coloring as kids. You know, taking preprinted pages of ornamental designs and applying color to them. (Personally, I didn’t do much of it. Mom was an elementary school art teacher. Her thing was creativity. Coloring books were anathema in the Sholty household.) So, when I caught word of plans to sponsor an afternoon of putting crayons and colored pencils to preprinted drawings, I was skeptical … until arriving at the Bath House to assist with the set-up.
There was free admission, a table spread with cheeses, crackers and fruit, a wine bar and lots and lots of things to color and stuff to color them with. Nobody knew just how many guest artists to expect, as this was a first-time event. Before we were finished, more than 60 had arrived. Lots of adults, women, mostly, huddled around the tables, talking and coloring like crazy (keeping, for the most part, within the lines.) Later, similar events featured Día de los Muertos themes, Christmas motifs and Freida Kahlo portraits.
I get that the Bath House events were simply tapping into the current interest in adult coloring. Apparently, it is approaching a craze stage. Even Saturday Night Live has begun spoofing the phenomenon. Just recently, NPR reported that of the top 15 best-selling books at Amazon, five were coloring books for adults. Our sister group, Friends of the Dallas Public Library, published a coloring book for adults that sold 1,500 in the first ten months.
Dover, a publisher known for its titles of public-domain works, has long maintained a line of adult coloring books. They didn’t call them that, but looking back on it, they were in the vanguard in this field. Now, artists are self-publishing their own line drawings to be colored by others.
I can’t imagine what Mom would think of this development.