The central Kenai Peninsula has been hit by the adult-coloring craze.
Programs and products are cropping up in community centers and stores throughout the area with a satisfactory reception.
“It suddenly exploded and the coloring books are all over the shelves and I don’t know why,” said Amy Murrell, an aide at Kenai Community Library.
She established the library’s adult-coloring classes and secured materials so anyone, at any time during open hours, can sit down and spend time shading and toning in or outside the lines.
“I always tell people the first rule is, ‘There is no rules,’” Murrell said. “If you want to color outside the lines, color outside the lines.”
Murrell said she never stopped coloring. She started as a child and brought her materials through every new stage of her life. She traced her interests back to her family, which is full of artists.
“I have never been an art snob,” Murrell said. “To me, all art is good art.”
She said her way of gauging a good piece is whether or not the piece made someone feel something, no matter what that something is. Picaso’s “Guernica,” a massive oil painting full of distorted human and animal figures, “evokes terrible feelings,” according to Murrell. But that hasn’t kept the painting from becoming one of Picaso’s most famous works.
Murrell said she allows people to go off and draw freely during the program, but is always there to offer advice. She has experimented with the best way to print off digital materials so the pencils’ color will hold well, and made sure to buy pencils that have a good “softness and smoothness” about them.
She contacted Anchorage-based artist, Shala Kerrigan, whose blog donteatthepaste.com has free adult-coloring materials, before printing out the intricate boxes for Sunday’s program at the Kenai library.
Much of the marketing for the pastime centers on the idea that coloring can be used as a form of therapy and way to relax. There is not an overabundance of studies that support the concept.
“Can Coloring Mandalas Reduce Anxiety?” was a study done by Nancy A. Curry and Tim Kasser and was published in Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association in 2005. Students were asked to color a mandala, plaid form or a blank piece of paper. The results showed a similar decline in anxiety for those students coloring mandalas or plaid designs.
“These findings suggest that structured coloring of a reasonably complex geometric pattern may induce a meditative state that benefits individuals suffering from anxiety,” Curry and Kasser wrote in the study.
Murrell did bring out an article for participants to read concerning the potential benefits of adult coloring at Sunday’s library program.
Cris Mamaloff was the only participant that came that day. Murrell said the events are hit or miss, but some have been extremely popular.
Mamaloff has been to every coloring session that has been offered.
“Once I started it was relaxing,” Mamaloff said. “You just lose yourself.”
She has experience painting with acrylic and oil, and working with ceramics.
“You don’t have to be so exact (with coloring),” Mamaloff said. “You just grab a color and go.”
She has purchased her own home materials for coloring.
“For me it is relaxing to listen to the music and just go with the color. Unfortunately, I always pick the same colors,” Mamaloff said with a laugh.
She usually picks pinks and purples.
“I would say they are soothing, but they are not that soothing,” she said, laughing again.
The Joyce K. Carver Memorial Library also hosts free adult-coloring programs.