Monday, November 2, 2015

Color Me Happy

RHYS BOWEN: Rhys: For my birthday last month my daughter Clare sent me three coloring books. Adult coloring books (no, there were no racy pictures to color, although that may be the next step) but complicated designs that require lots of concentration.
I’ve been trying them when I sit up in bed at night, trying to wind down and fall asleep and you know, they are addicting. So far I’ve tried marker pens (didn’t like so much. Too harsh and hard to work with), colored pencils and watercolor pencils. I haven’t tried crayons because they are probably too fat for the intricate details. I'm not sure how relaxing they are, because there is a lot of concentration involved in staying within the lines, but they stop worrying thoughts from flying around my head!

I gather coloring has become a BIG THING. There are coloring clubs in the same way that there are book clubs and quilting circles. I can see it would work well as an activity that one could do mindlessly while chatting with friends. As long as a little wine and nibbles are involved, I’m all for it.

Given all the craft-centered cozy mysteries there are, I just wish I had a little time to write "Color Me Dead."  I'm sure somebody will soon!

So I’m dying to know who else has taken up coloring as an activity and whether you find it works to relieve tension. And if not coloring, what? I know some people quilt, some knit, embroider.  Do tell all, dear Reds and Readers: what do you do to wind down, relieve tension and indulge in playfulness?

HALLIE EPHRON: Coloring would give me an anxiety attack. I'm no better at staying within the lines than I was when I was 8. I like to play bridge -- does that count? And read the bridge column. And the comics in the newspaper. If it weren't for the bridge column and the comics, I could easy go with e-only news.

LUCY BURDETTE: Oh my coloring, how did this become a thing again? Who thinks up these new trends? Right now my mother-in-law is very sick and several people are coloring in her room--and finding it very stress-reducing. I would rather read, if I can concentrate or have something gripping. But I love COLOR ME DEAD--Maybe it's already in production Rhys?

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Kaye had a great post on the coloring craze recently! I must confess I'm curious. I picture adult coloring like monks making mandalas — very Zen. I guess I should try it! But Lucy, I'm with you — I think I'd rather read or take a walk.... Lately to reduce tension I've been taking a lot of walks. That's not exactly playful, though, is it... Hmmm.... Maybe coloring is worth a try. I think we have some glitter pens somewhere.....

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  I'm afraid..I cannot even face this . It makes me anxious, and I have to say I have no desire to color at all. All those little blank spaces? Not at all. It's anxiety-INDUCING to me . Is there a right way to do it? What do I get when I'm finished? A pretty picture that I did not design? Then what DO I do with it?  ::Shaking head::  I agree about talking walks, that's one of my favorite things. But coloring?   What do I do to relive stress? I will let you know when I come up with something.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I was intrigued by Kaye's coloring book post, too, and bought one, and some markers. Have I colored a single picture? No. When exactly did I think I would do this? Sigh. It's a lovely idea, though, and I loved to color when I was a kid, so the concept is soothing in a nostalgic way.  But if I was sitting somewhere with time to kill, I would be reading, something, anything, always. And if I could manage to do something fairly mindless with my hands, I'd work on my completely neglected quilting project... Too many things, not enough time.

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: If I were going to reduce stress via making "artwork," I think I'd do paint-by-numbers. At least then you get a kitschy picture to frame and hang. As a matter of fact, you could do an entire wall of ironic retro "art" projects - those colored-string-around-nails pictures of owls, the crushed-crystal-inside -the-outlines poodle dogs, macrame hangings... if I had a midcentury aesthetic going on in my house, I would definitely do it. But coloring books? I'm afraid they seem pointless, which is probably a sad comment on the adult mind.  Just picturing myself sitting at the table and coloring, I can feel my anxiety level rising - I'm wasting time! I could be doing something I need to do.

Knitting and needlepoint at least lets you pretend you'll have something useful at the end. And I enjoy board games and card games, but the fun part is socializing (and trash talking) with the other players. Maybe that's what would make coloring fun for me - do it with a group of people. With cocktails. Drunk competitive coloring sounds like a lot of fun.

RHYS: Anyone up for drunk-competitive coloring? So who has tried coloring as a relaxing occupation? I am still not sure whether I will ever take to it. They now make small books and I can see doing it on a long plane flight (but would I look stupid sitting on a plane coloring?) I still think that kitting or crochet will be my choice of mindless activity when I want busy-work to do with my hands on long evenings or plane flights. Any other suggestions, Reds?


  1. I like coloring [at least the coloring that gets done with the grandchildren], but I haven't given these intricate projects a try. It might be fun, though I don't really see it as a relaxing sort of thing [what with all that staying in the lines pressure] . . . but I really like the idea of glitter pens, Susan!

    While I always have time to color with the grandchildren, the rest of the time, I think I'd really rather be reading . . . .

  2. I can see this to a certain extent. The nostalgia of doing something you enjoyed as a child, for example. However, I'm not interested enough to buy one and start coloring. I just don't have the time.

  3. Coloring when the boys were little was fun--although usually that involved them asking me to draw them something first. Reading and writing are my main activities to relax, followed by knitting and crocheting and quilting. For quilting, I do simple, hand-pieced quilt-tops, and enjoy the process of finding pleasing combinations of fabrics. These I give away--no one wants the endless scarves I knit and crochet, but the quilts are a hit! ;-)

  4. I bet the quilts are a big hit FChurch!

    I wonder if we could do the competitive coloring for the next JRW game show? Hmmm, probably kind of boring...

  5. relaxing, meditative activities: raking leaves, dead-heading the garden perennials, photographing flowers and foliage, assembling 250 flower photo cards for a fund-raising auction. I used to sew my daughters' dresses.

  6. Yeah - do NOT get coloring for grownups. However - that cozy series? Death Outside the Lines. Color Her Dead. Murder by the Numbers.

  7. I thought I heard my name being bandied about this morning! Coloring! I love it! And of course it's not for everyone - just like anything else.

    Some of us like - well, you know things that others just don't.

    My sister-in-law came up with the sweetest suggestion for a coloring book I gave her last Christmas.

    She does a lot of volunteer work with women.

    Women who have had to leave their homes, often with only the clothes they're wearing.

    Coloring can, for some, bring calmness.

    The end result of a colored secret garden hanging on the wall of their "new" home may be the only pretty thing they have to look at.

    I love my sister-in-law.

  8. I think I could get into coloring. With colored pencils, not crayons. My local indie bookstore had a couple in stock the last time I was there. I should try (The Girl has colored pencils I can borrow).

    I used to do counted cross-stitch. Got into that in college; my friends and I would get together, stitch, talk, and watch Star Trek: TNG. It was a lot of fun. But then I couldn't do it when I had little kids (they liked to play with all the colored thread), and now there's so much "take it out, untangle everything, try to put it away neatly" stress that I just don't. I used to do really intricate projects, too. They were lovely (at least the pictures that came with the patterns were).

  9. Oh, almost forgot! Those cozy titles sound awesome. Someone write that!

  10. Funny, though, filling in the squares of a crossword puzzle, with letters, now that's coloring I can get into!
    But now, thinking about the puzzles I have done, my letters don't stay inside the little boxes very well either.
    And when I get back from the airport, I will fix the typo in my post! It's supposed to be "what do I do to relieve stress" not"relive" it. :-)
    Perhaps that's another blog…
    Leaving LAX and off to Phoenix… Love you all and see you when I arrive. I am at Poisoned Pen Tuesday night! Please come say hello!

  11. Say hi to Barbara and the.gang at PP for me, Hank. I know you'll have a great welcome there.
    Back to my coloring-- oh what? I have to send off a book today?

  12. Lucy-Maybe for the next JRW game show-show blow-ups of colorings and have the audience guess who did it??
    I like the idea of coloring but I'm too cheap to pay $12 for a coloring book for adults!!
    Just what I need-another way to avoid writing!!!!

  13. Enjoy Phoenix and the Poisoned Pen, Hank! and say "hi" to Barbara and all the gang. Hope you're staying at the Valley Ho, and tell them you MUST have a room on the pool. Makes me homesick for Scottsdale just thinking of it...

    It just occurred to me that maybe I could color on the plane! That would certainly be a way to pass some of that boring/stressful/uncomfortable transatlantic flight time. Except I'm sure I'd drop the pens, then be crawling around in the aisle looking for them and bothering all my seatmates. Nothing more frustrating than dropping things in the dark at 38,000 ft.

  14. I may not try coloring, but I think I should use glitter pens more often.... Shopping list in glitter! To do list in glitter! Not sure if you can write a check in glitter, though....

  15. Julia gets the "party idea" prize! That sounds like a fun activity. Will that be the theme of the Bouchercon JRW cocktail party in New Orleans?

    We still have coloring books around here from when the girls were small, including some that look just like the "adult" ones, with complicated and quite beautiful designs. And 99% of the pages are uncolored, in all of them.

    So if you have a drunk competitive coloring party, I recommend buying one book and tearing out the pages to share.

    Gardening is my current obsession, but I used to sew every single day. And I can't remember when that stopped being my favorite thing to do. Probably when I started a vegetable garden several years ago.

  16. I can't quite get into the coloring craze, either. Coloring is something I do with the grand and great-grandkids. Any "free" time belongs to reading. I do remember the winter after my father died my mother sat with my sister and me and we did color-by-number while watching television for a little while each evening. Not sure if she intended it to be therapeutic but it certainly was.

  17. Hahaha! Drunk Competitive Coloring. At least we'll know who to trace that back to if it becomes a craze, Julia. Karen, it might indeed be a good theme for the Bouchercon JRW cocktail part in NOLA, but I doubt that all of us could stop talking long enough to color.

    I have bought a couple of these enticing new coloring books and colored pencils to go with them, but, like you, Debs, I've yet to start coloring. And, like you, Grandma Cootie, I do enjoy coloring with the granddaughters, but, of course, I enjoy most anything with them. I really do want to give it a try, but I am so far behind in my reading that I want to spend free time doing that, and reading has always been my most relaxing activity. I do like that there are now smaller versions of these "adult" coloring books, which makes it easier to take on a plane or put in your purse to take with you.

    With my stomach giving me trouble again today, maybe I should see if it relaxes me on that score.

  18. I haven't started coloring, but I'm quite intrigued. I think it would be a great way to unhook my mind (not unhinge, I'm already there.) I have a couple of coloring books on my holiday gift list and I'm getting my youngest sister an Outlander coloring book for her birthday because she is an avid fan of the series. (I love my sister, but I hope the coloring will alleviate her need to describe -- or try to describe -- to me what's going on in the series. Difficult because I don't watch it.) And I love the idea of a Drunk Competitive Coloring. Perhaps one or more of the Jungle Red Writers will suggest a panel along those lines.

  19. Julia, I want to see a time themed room like you describe! Brilliant.
    That is not to say I'd want to live with it, however.

  20. I read somewhere that it's supposed to be good for your cognitive functioning. I've seen the coloring books at the bookstore, and I doubt I could keep within the lines. (Those darn arthritic fingers, you know!) That would annoy me, and NOT be relaxing!

    The nursing home where my sister lives recently started offering coloring as an activity. My sister seems interested but I think the nature of her physical disability would make it a frustrating experience for her. She has somehow ended up with a box of colored pencils but doesn't have her own coloring book. I may buy a book for each of us, and see if it's something we can enjoy together, or get annoyed with together!

    Walking relaxes me. I really miss it if I don't get to do my daily walk. Also, going to the gym helps, too.

    Yes, someone should definitely write the Coloring Cozies!

  21. I want to see what cocktails Susan could come up with for our Drunk Competitive Coloring Party!

  22. I'm for the Drunk Unhinged JRW Coloring Cocktail Party!

  23. No coloring on the plane, Debs--turbulence! Can you imagine?

    Coloring cozies..with clues in the drawings? Hmmmm…. ANd only show up if you use certain colors..

  24. I purchased some coloring books and crayons, and colored a little. But like Lucy and Susan, I find I'd rather read.
    I think about trying to color while I'm watching sports on television, but I keep forgetting.