Video/Poll: Colouring-in is no longer just for kids, meet the grown-ups who spend their spare time skillfully shading
Hard-working, stressed out adults are turning to a new craze that is sweeping Suffolk to help them switch off and forget about the pressures of day-to-day life.
Fans cite the fact colouring is a relaxing, flexible and invigorating hobby for its sudden rise in popularity.
Jessica Holt, 37, of Ipswich, has developed her colouring skills over the past decade and now experiments with different types of shading.
“We spend our whole lives running around doing stuff, focusing on work and we never live for the moment.
“Colouring is a way of letting your mind drift away.
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The self-employed businesswoman added: “When you tell people you do colouring, some do say that it is just for kids, and they seem to think I do it because I want to be an artist.
“Colouring is a form of art but you don’t have to have any specific skills.
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“If I wanted to sketch I would have to learn and that takes time, whereas colouring allows me to switch off.”
Jessica suffers from a long-term illness that can leave her tired and listless, but colouring acts as a type of therapy. She picks up the hobby when her body allows her to do little else.
“I started colouring when I was first diagnosed with arthritis when I was about 25, and at that stage there were only really children’s books out there. I used to look for pictures on the internet, and download a black and white version to colour.
“A few months ago I took a turn for the worse and I started to look at some of the books out there that are designed for adults, there is a whole market that caters for adult colourers now.
“You can get some which are partly printed in colour so you don’t have to colour the whole page, it means you can pick up a book and complete a picture even if you only have five minutes to spare.
Posing a question of her own, Jessica asks you to look back on a time when you sat with a child and helped them colour.
“Most of us will remember picking up a felt tip or pencil and experimenting with the different marks and textures you can make.
“It produces a good feeling, it is about being in the moment and having something to focus on, it is quite Zen-like.”
Jessica uses Derwent pencils to allow her to create different scales of shading, and Lyra felt tips, which are designed for artists, but says you can start with cheaper alternatives and still get effective results.
At Denny’s arts and crafts store in Bury St Edmunds, supplies are selling fast as others follow Jessica’s lead.
Shop assistant Kerry Harwood said: “We get people coming in on an almost daily basis asking for adult colouring equipment, most have seen adverts for it on TV.
“We have always stocked children’s sets but in the past few months we have started getting more grown-up books.”
The store sells a range of pencils starting at £2.99 for a pack, with an artist-quality set retailing at £18.
“I have tried it myself,” said Kerry. “It is really relaxing, it takes you back to your childhood.”
One adult colouring book was even listed in the top ten book chart at Sainsbury’s.
Stacy Mead, of Witham, spotted it and thought she would give it a go.
“I still can’t believe you can actually buy colouring books for adults, it’s actually really relaxing.
“There are loads of books. I bought one from The Works and the other from Sainsbury’s.”
Colouring gives Louise Chalklen, 36, an opportunity to connect with her son, Aaron, eight.
“It does take patience to colour in and I think he gets that from me because I have alwways been quite crafty.
“Ever since he could, he has sat and coloured and whenever he asks if we can get the colouring books out I instantly say ‘yes’.
“It helps with fine motor skills, making sure it is tidy, and also their observation skills as they try and colour as they remember seeing something.
“It also helps with their creativity, because they can colour Spiderman pink and be artistic if they want.
“But for me, colouring gives us a connection, it is a chance for me sit quietly with my son and do something together.”
Louise and Aaron, of Sutton Heath near Woodbridge, usually opt for pictures of Moshi Monsters, Marvel superheroes and cartoon characters, although Louise has explored more grown-up options.
“I went to a big craft fair at the NEC in Birmingham and they sold Zentangle packs, which is where you doodle and then colour them in.
“I bought a set for my friend as a Christmas present and would like my own but it is finding the time to do it,” said Louise, who works in sales and marketing at Woodward Markwell insurance brokers.
Mum Claire Rayner, of Boreham, bought her teenage daughter an adult colouring book to help relieve the stress of exams, and said: “It is very good for relaxation, it is a great book, as well as colouring, you have to look for things in the pictures.”
Mum of two Louise Fairbrother added: “So many adult colouring books in the newsagents now! A bit pricey at £9.95, but really pretty pics!”
Caroline Smith said: “I bought an adult colouring book a few months ago, it’s a great way to de-stress and let the mind zone out.”
Have you joined the colouring craze? Share your photos of your multi-coloured masterpieces on Instagram, add #SuffolkColours to your posts.
Have you joined the colouring craze? Share your photos of your multi-coloured masterpieces on instagram, add #SuffolkColours to your posts.