Library page Joanna Thomas (left) visits with Wai Ng, 59, while Ng gets started on a coloring project Wednesday night at the Everett Public Library’s Coloring and Conversation. The program, which has become quite popular, was started by Thomas. It is free and takes place the first Wednesday of each month. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Library page Joanna Thomas (left) visits with Wai Ng, 59, while Ng gets started on a coloring project Wednesday night at the Everett Public Library’s Coloring and Conversation. The program, which has become quite popular, was started by Thomas. It is free and takes place the first Wednesday of each month. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Coloring ‘really makes you happy,’ even when you’re not a child

With colored pencils and pens in hand, group gathers for creativity and conversation at the library.

Sky blue, yellow-green, magenta and violet, plus basic colors — red, blue, green, orange, brown, black, white — they’re all in a big box of Crayola Watercolor Colored Pencils. The 240-pencil Classpack size, with a dozen hues, is an enticing sight for any kid who’s keen on making art.

On a cold night just after New Year’s, hands were busy coloring, creating elaborate pictures.

“It really makes you happy,” said Everett’s Wai Ng, who Wednesday evening was coloring images of tiny fish on an intricate page. “I never thought I was an artist. This has opened my mind, how to see things.”

Ng and others in a “Coloring and Conversation” group at the Everett Public Library aren’t kids. They’re devotees of adult coloring, a craze that exploded more than five years ago.

“Everybody gives me coloring books. It’s just relaxing,” said Paula Royset, 67. Coloring at a table next to Ng, who is 59, the Everett woman said she likes working with gel pens. “Sometimes I like to do pictures that are crazy. There are no rules, and this way you can talk,” Royset said of the monthly gathering.

Paula Royset, 67, of Everett uses ink pens to color highly detailed drawings Wednesday evening at the Everett Public Library’s Coloring and Conversation program. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Paula Royset, 67, of Everett uses ink pens to color highly detailed drawings Wednesday evening at the Everett Public Library’s Coloring and Conversation program. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Mindy Van Wingen, assistant director of the Everett library, said the group started about two years ago at the library’s Evergreen Branch. Meeting from 6 to 7:30 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month, the coloring meet-up has moved to the main library due to the branch’s closure for an expansion project.

“It’s usually a small group, that keeps the conversation going,” said Elizabeth Koenig, an Evergreen Branch librarian now working at the downtown library. It was library page and coloring enthusiast Joanna Thomas who started the program, Koenig said.

“Art’s got all these benefits. It’s relaxing. It brings people together,” said Thomas, who was setting out pencils and coloring pages Wednesday.

Friends of the Everett Public Library, a nonprofit providing financial support and volunteer help for library programs, funded an adult crafts program at the Evergreen Branch called Create @ the Library. That has helped buy some coloring supplies.

Thomas, who volunteered to get the group started, also purchases books, while some participants bring their own.

Erika Jole, 40, was working on a page from “Johanna’s Christmas,” a popular coloring book by Johanna Basford. “I loved to color as a kid,” said Jole, an Everett mother of three. “I can’t draw. I can’t paint. I think this is art.”

An assortment of colored pencils as well as pens have been provided for coloring at the library. Some supplies were donated by Friends of the Library. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

An assortment of colored pencils as well as pens have been provided for coloring at the library. Some supplies were donated by Friends of the Library. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

A Scottish artist and illustrator who has created hand-drawn designs for wallpaper, beer labels and ceramic tableware, Basford is surely the rock star of adult coloring books. Since her “Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book” was published in 2013, her titles have sold 21 million copies.

Hanna Karlzon and Millie Marotta are other successful coloring book creators. Basford’s latest, “World of Flowers: A Coloring Book & Floral Adventure,” was published in October. In her author’s biography on Amazon, Basford wrote that she “prefers pens and pencils to pixels.”

“I make colouring books so you can make masterpieces!” says the biography, which mentions Basford’s artistic inspiration, “the flora and fauna that surrounded me growing up on my parents’ fish farm in rural Scotland.”

Along with creating intricately colored pages, people who take crayons, pens and pencils in hand may be reducing stress levels.

Wai Ng, 59, colors a highly detailed drawing at the Everett Public Library’s Coloring and Conversation Wednesday evening. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Wai Ng, 59, colors a highly detailed drawing at the Everett Public Library’s Coloring and Conversation Wednesday evening. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Titles of books and pages offered at the library included “Calm Color Create,” “Zendoodle” and “Stress Relieving Designs.” Animals, mandalas, flowers and paisley designs are among the detailed images.

“Why Adults Are Buying Coloring Books (For Themselves),” a 2015 New Yorker article by Adrienne Raphel, suggested that the fad is part of a “Peter Pan market” that finds grown-ups buying and reading children’s and young-adult books, and people going off to adult summer camps.

“It’s just fun,” said Georgina Boss, 47, who was coloring at the library with her 14-year-old daughter, Jaiden Boss. An eighth-grader at Evergreen Middle School, Jaiden said she hopes to earn an art degree and eventually become a tattoo artist.

Of eight people coloring Wednesday, just one was a man. He asked not to share his name, but said as he worked on a picture of tiny animals with human faces that the movement involved in coloring helps with a hand condition.

Jole believes the simple, no-tech activity does ease life’s stresses.

“It’s something I can space out on,” she said.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Coloring, conversation

The Everett Public Library, 2702 Hoyt Ave., hosts “Coloring and Conversation” 6-7:30 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month. Find more library events and activities at: www.epls.org/

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