Being a single parent is stressful! It’s pretty much akin to working in a three-ring circus but you’re the goofy clown running around with the fire extinguisher trying to put all of the fires out. And that is exactly what I call my daughter’s little mischief-making excursions…”toddler fires.” The other day, I left the room for a minute to put away some of our laundry and our entire living room was covered in paper towels. Oy vey! In retrospect, it was kind of funny but in the moment it makes you want to put your head through a wall. Am I right? This is just an average day, not taking into account the million other stressful events that tend to pop up. At the end of days like these, it is really great to have a creative outlet to throw yourself into. Que up the Adult coloring books!
So why adult coloring books? Everyone from researchers at Johns Hopkins to Yoga Journal agrees that coloring can be just as effective at combating stress as meditation. As someone who has indulged in practically all forms of artistic practices, I have to say that I completely concur. By just setting aside an hour or so to work on a sheet is enough time for you to practice mindfulness and clear your thoughts from the day. When I color, I work through what is upsetting me or stressing me out and it gives me the time to meditate on them and find real solutions. And bonus!!! When I’m done I have a really cool looking picture, many of which are completely frameable or I am able to use as a coffee table book.
Feel like taking the Adult Coloring Book plunge and becoming a stress relief colorist? Below I have listed my favorite books and tools currently available on the market for you guys. I tried to include a good variety from every price point so that anyone could indulge without breaking the bank. I’ve also listed some links to completed pages so you can see what other colorists have done with their books. *Spoiler Alert: There are some really talented colorists out there!*
Suggested Adult Coloring Books:
This was the first coloring book that I bought for myself and it still remains my favorite book that I have ever bought. It is spiral bound and has beautiful large perforated pages so you can remove your page easily once it is completed. The tooth of the paper is perfect for colored pencil and you can easily use gel pens or markers without experiencing any bleed through. Check out some of the completed pages from other colorists here.
The adult coloring books created by Swedish artist Hanna Karlzon will have you connecting with your inner goddess in no time! These gorgeous hardcover editions are very challenging but will provide you with months of artistic indulgence. And because it is a hardcover it makes a fantastic table book when it is completed! Check out some of the completed pages from other colorists here. I also highly suggest Summer Nights and Daydreams by this same artist.
Twilight Garden by Maria Trolle is another great hardcover coloring book. Each page is reminiscent of a beautiful English countryside but all you need to cultivate these beautiful blooms is your favorite coloring medium. Check out some completed pages from this book here.
Hindus and Buddhists have created mandalas since the 4th century BCE and have used this as a tool for creating a sacred space and as a method of meditation and trance induction. In Sanskrit, the word “mandala” literally translates as “circle” and is a representation of the universe. Out of all of the coloring books that I have listed here, I find that this one is the most relaxing to work in. I struggled to find completed mandalas from this book to show you but I assure you, it’s a great buy. You get 100 mandalas to complete and this book will last months even with constant use.
Selina Fenech has amassed quite a following and once you see her wide range of adult coloring books it is pretty each to see why. Her designs are mainly based on mythological creatures and are heavily female based, which I absolutely adore. Check out some completed pages from this book here. Also, check out her grayscale coloring books which take the guesswork out of shading a page and teach you how to shade other pages in the future!
Johanna Basford has some of the most intricate and charming adult coloring books. These books are great for colored pencils and gel pens. They may be a bit difficult to color with markers though, due to the detail in her designs. They are challenging but the end result from the completed designs are completely worth the wait.
What’s life without a little snark? This coloring book is filled with a bunch of relatable scenarios and once you’re done with your pages would they would look lovely displayed on your fridge next to your kids’ artwork! Check out some of the pages filling this book here. Also, take a look at the sequel, Mom Life 2: Return of Toddzilla.
I’m pretty sure that if I ever win the lottery that I will be using this coloring book as a guide for how I will set up my new lifestyle. Each page in this book features ambrosial interior and exterior scenes from what would make a picture-perfect town. It even has pages based on craft rooms! Check out some completed pages from this book here. They almost make me wonder if Debbie Macomber has a direct link to my daydreams…
This one is for the dog lovers! This quirky coloring book features some of the most eccentric sugar skull designs. They also have traditional sugar skull design books for those of you that aren’t down with dogs.
I saved the best for last! The Night Voyage by Daria Song is not only a coloring book but an illustrated story. It is about a little girl who is swept away by a toy train conductor and together they shower the world with toys and paper cranes. In my opinion, this adult coloring book is a must-have. The scenes created within are whimsical and completely endearing. The paper quality is top notch and can be used with any artistic medium and once completed makes a fantastic coffee table book. They even included a gorgeous dust cover to protect your artwork once you are done. Check out some of the completed pages by other colorists here. Other notable books by Daria Song include The Time Garden and The Time Chamber.
Suggested Adult Coloring Book Tools:
(Because an artist is only as good as their tools!)
On the lower end of the price point spectrum, I would suggest these colored pencils from Cra-Z-Art. I consider myself kind of an expert when it comes to colored pencils as it is the medium that I have the most experience with and I have been drawing for 20+ years. These pencils lay down color easily and smoothly and are very easy to blend. The lead is very durable and you shouldn’t have any issues with the pencils splitting provided that you use a good quality sharpener.
If you are looking to indulge a little bit then I would suggest using Prismacolor Premiers. These pencils are my favorite for the price. I just bought myself a second set of 132 pencils as an early Christmas gift to myself to replace the set that I have been using for the last 7 years. This is a softcore pencil set so I will say that you need to be careful how much pressure you apply while shading and sharpening. But in my opinion, there isn’t a better set of pencils for this price point. Also, check out the Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils if you want a double duty pencil to add a little extra flair to your artwork. They’re a lot of fun to work with!
At the higher end of the pricing spectrum (if you’re looking to go pro!) look no further than Derwent’s Inktense Ink Pencils. These pencils pack a wicked punch when it comes to pigment. Because they are so expensive, I save these pencils for my “special” coloring books (like my hardcover editions and books like the Daria Song’s). They are highly blendable when dry but the magic really begins when you use them wet. They are a lot like working with the Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils that I listed above but much more intense as they actually are made with ink.
Regardless of what colored pencil set that you choose to work with, you should pick up this colored pencil accessory set. I haven’t found another set put together like this and each tool is indispensable when working with colored pencil. While the sharpener in this set looks relatively unimpressive, I’ve found that it is the best at sharpening without damaging the core and causing splitting. (DO NOT BUY THE PRISMACOLOR SCHOLAR SHARPENER FOR THIS REASON! You have been warned!) You also get erasers and a tool to extend pencils that you’ve sharpened down to the nub. But the best part about this set is the blending pencil and the blending marker. With the pencil, you can easily blend out colors and blend two shades or more together and the blending marker will give any pencil an almost watercolor effect. This set is absolutely worth the 6 to 7 extra bucks!
When you’re want to color quickly and are not concerned with shading, gel pens are a good option. I picked up this pack of 100 pens by Sargent and they have been working pretty well. They include glitter, metallic, pastel, and regular gel pens in just about every shade you could ever want. You’re going to have a hard time coming up with skin tones when it comes to gel pens but these pens are really fun to work with if you’re creating mandalas. I’ve used these in my Fantasia book as well with good results and the major advantage here is that you get so many colors for a relatively inexpensive price point.
The best bargain that I have found for art markers would be these dual end markers by Steadtler. It is really convenient to have dual-ended markers. It’s like getting two for the price of one! Shade larger areas with the larger end and get into those nooks and crannies with the smaller end. They have really good color pay off but as with all markers, in many books, you may experience bleed through. I would really only suggest them on pages that are one-sided or in adult coloring books that have a really thick paper quality.
If you’re looking to step up your game a little bit in the marker department, I would suggest the alcohol-based Prismacolor Premier Marker. They are also double ended and include a fine and chisel point. These markers have a great color pay off and they easily blend with a blender marker. What I love so much about these markers is that they seem to never dry out. I purchased a set of 72 almost two years ago and they are still going strong. If they do start to dry out all you need to do is put a little bit of rubbing alcohol in them to bring them back to life. They look great in adult coloring books!
The best art markers on the market today are Copic’s and they are the only item on this list that I do not own…but I wish I did! I have been able to work with them though as many of my friends are professional artists. These markers are alcohol-based like the Prismacolor premiers but these markers are refillable and you can even replace the nibs if they give out on you. A set of 72 will run you about $300 to $350, depending on the color selection! The quality of these markers are unparalleled though and are definitely on my bucket list for art supplies.
And last but certainly not least, I would suggest these PIIT artist pens by Faber-Castell. If like me, you are easily distracted and occasionally color over the lines you can use these pens to darken them back up! I know, I know…that’s pretty much the one basic rule of coloring. Don’t color on the lines. Mistakes happen though but with these pens and their various point sizes, it will make it look like it never did!
Hopefully, this list will take the stress out of choosing your supplies for your new stress relief activity! 🙂 If you try any of the items that I have listed here, make sure to come back and let me know how you like them. If you already indulge in adult coloring books, let me know your favorites in the comment section below! Until next time Kangas! Stay strong, radiate positivity and love fiercely!