Adult coloring sessions are exactly what most would imagine they’d be — a group of adults sitting around tables with coloring implements in the center, quietly coloring in pre-drawn pictures.
Well, it’s mostly quiet. A table of friends and co-workers at LSU’s School of Education — Corinne Bergeron, Hillary Eisworth, Stan Barrera and Amber Salvadras — get a little rambunctious from time to time, they admit.
For all those confused about why anyone would want to color, as an adult, Salvadras said a lot of parents get hooked again while coloring with their children, but that doesn’t mean they have to stick to less challenging projects.
Louise Hilton, the East Baton Rouge Library employee who decided to experiment with an adult coloring program, said a booming industry has sprung up around the surprisingly popular activity.
“It’s a thing. It’s definitely a thing. I keep up with trends on Instagram, and that’s where I started noticing the hashtag ‘adult coloring,’ ” Hilton said.
Adult coloring books have their own section now, she said, and artists offer editions of specialty coloring books that often sell out.
She wasn’t sure it would draw any patrons, she said, but the first night she offered the program 33 people showed up.
“The room was full, and it’s been full every time we’ve offered it since,” she said.
And it’s not always the same people coming back from week to week, she said.
She said she thinks the appeal is probably a mix of factors.
It’s soothing activity that doesn’t require much active attention, it’s, to some degree, a way to tap into the creative side of the brain, and it’s often a springboard to memories from childhood, when life was more unplugged, and simpler.
“We’re all meant to be creative,” Hilton said, and express ourselves through nonverbal means, though while all children start out drawing pictures and coloring, eventually, only those who have a drawing talent continue to do so, she said.
“Everyone else sort of feels they can’t continue on because they’re not good enough at drawing,” she said.
That doesn’t diminish the need for a creative outlet, she said.
Dawna Hamilton said initially came to find a way to relax in her time off, but she keeps coming back because it’s so easy to be there and be completely present.
“The rest of life can be full of judgment, but everyone here is just paying attention to what they’re doing,” she said.
Salvadras said she and her friends have been to every weeknight event the library has offered since the sessions began in July, and is not ashamed to admit she loves it as much now as she ever did as a child, though now, they are old enough to drink wine while they color.
“We have all talked about getting together one night and doing that. Corks and Coloring,” she said.
Art therapist Hollie French said she wants to be careful not to equate coloring with art therapy, which is a much more in-depth use of art as part of therapy with a mental health professional. She does like the growing popularity of adult coloring books and other comparable businesses like Paint with a Twist, which have made art less intimidating.
“I think it’s safe to say that for many people, this is a healthy option to add to their stress reduction or self-care toolkits, but it is no substitute for actual psychotherapy/art therapy,” French said in an email.
The next adult coloring programs are set for 2 p.m. Aug. 22 and 7 p.m. Aug. 31 at the Main Library at Goodwood.