Before I even opened Time After Time, a colouring book (for mature colourers) by Lipton SK artist and all-round creative powerhouse Gaye Smith, I did some internet research. That may seem strange, for here I was about to review a book without text …shouldn’t it be, like, easy-peasy? I was vaguely aware that adult colouring books had become a hot new phenomenon, and I wanted to know why.
Turns out it’s about de-stressing. What I learned is that like reading, or doing jigsaw puzzles, or knitting, when we focus on the activity of colouring it calms the mind and takes our focus away from worries, while simultaneously stimulating motor skills, senses, and creativity. There’s a crossover with mindfulness and mantras: “Activities in which the brain is engaged just enough to stop it whirring, but not so much that the concentration is draining.” (The Guardian)
The writer of a June 2015 article (in The Guardian) reported that “Five of Amazon’s top 10 last week were adult colouring-in books, as were six of Brazil’s top 10 non-fiction list. Last year in France, the combined colouring-in industry sold 3.5m books.” Apparently it’s a universal phenomenon, captivating folks from all walks of life. Psychologists are studying it. An Algerian doctor stated that colouring books helped him lick severe depression. They’re huge in China. There are Facebook sites dedicated to this. Apps. And there are intricately-designed books galore.
Would Smith’s Time After Time meet the unspoken promise to keep me in a calm, focused zone? I opened the softcover (approximately 9 x 12”) and was bedazzled. Many of the images, including the cover image, depict a fantastical landscape with water; hills; ringed cones (trees); flowers; insects; hobbit-type homes; all-sorts-ish candy; and creatures, all graphically designed with swirls, stripes, dots, circles, checks, and squiggles (this sounds like a children’s poem). I can imagine the fun she had creating these images, and wonder if she imagined the adults who might take felt pen to paper and fill in the blanks while the prescient concerns of their worlds melted away like ice cream.
There are twenty-four images (not counting covers, inside and out) to play with, and each graphic faces a blank page. My favourites are the full-bleed candy page-perhaps because it brings back memories of when my parents hosted card games in their smalltown SK homes and served all-sorts candy-and the dragonfly page.
I can certainly admire the art, but now it’s time to put the efficacy of “colouring as a means to lessening stress” to work. Will I feel calmer? Like a child again? I search my desk, my junk drawer: no markers or pencil crayons! And the work is too fine to attempt with wax crayons. Well, I’m all out of Big Girl things like butter and eggs, so a trip to the store is called for. While there, I’m going to swing down the stationery aisle, grab a full pack of fine-tipped markers, because to be honest, I can’t wait to try this out.
THIS BOOK IS AVAILABLE AT YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE OR FROM WWW.SKBOOKS.COM