Article by Brian Bethel of the Abilene Reporter News, Jan. 8, 2016
A small square of paper becomes a riot of color and life as Raena Lujan applies her personal touch to a baroque illustration of a woman with a Mona Lisa smile and hair woven in patterns of sun-like rays and twisted knots.
"It's very therapeutic for me," said Lujan, 21, one of a couple dozen people gathered for the Abilene Public Library's first Coloring Club meeting Thursday night.
That turnout was a pleasant surprise for Ann Mount, Information Services Librarian, who brought copies of images from her own coloring books - including titled inspired by J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" and George R.R. Martin's "Game of Thrones" - for others to share.
"It's fun to do, and it's about getting like-minded individuals together who may not have met before," Mount said of the newly formed club, which will meet every first Thursday at the downtown library. "It's a way to connect to the community."
Adult coloring books have become publishing phenomenon, Mount said, with more and more publishers offering books with images that range from abstract art to complex fantasy worlds.
"You're not focused on electronics or checking your phone or your iPad," Mount said. "And it's something that you can do with your kids, as well."
And coloring is a "gateway" to other art, she said.
"Anyone can color, and then you get confident mixing colors or maybe using different styles, mixing crayons with markers and colored pencils, which leads to paint," she said.
Filling in her chosen image with shades of blue, yellow, pink and green, Lujan said she always has enjoyed coloring and was happy to rediscover that childhood joy.
When she was young, she said, she had "millions" of coloring books from which to choose.
"I just stumbled upon this one day on the Internet, so I thought I'd try it out," she said.
She bought her first adult coloring book a year ago. It turned out to be "one of the best investments" she's ever made, Lujan said.
"You have the stress of everyday life, and you just go back to simpler times when you were a child and there was no stress," she said.
Mount said she enjoys the "repetitive" nature of the activity.
"I can focus on other things," she said. "Usually I'll be having a conversation with a friend and be coloring, and it doesn't take any extra thought. But it keeps my hands busy, and that's the important thing - my hands always have to be doing something."
Everyone attending Thursday night's color-fest had their own reasons for taking pencils, markers or crayons in hand.
Jodie Baugh saw the club's first meeting as a try-before-you-buy opportunity. She'd thought about asking for coloring books for Christmas but refrained until she had a chance to see what it was like.
"Now, I wish I'd put that on my list," Baugh said, nothing that she prefers sweeping mandalas and tessellated forms over the usual "Frozen" and "Cinderella" choices her grandchildren often pick.
"This is a nice change of pace," she said.
Coloring a design saying "Trust Yourself," Sylvia Ramirez said she came by her love of adult coloring books honestly.
Her sister-in-law, artist Cheryl Casey, hgas three books of her adult coloring designs out for sale, with designs including whimsical quilts, fairies and a Christmas theme.
Ramirez picked her image because of its message, she said.
"I'm trying to talk to myself," she said with a laugh.
Cooper High School special education teacher Terrye Johnson came to color for the first time, inspired by her students.
Many students, during their limited free time, pull out their own coloring materials and deeply enjoy it, she said.
"I do similar things with my kids at school, but I never did it," she said. "The kids like it, and so I thought: I can't do it at work, so I'll come do it here."
Adam Singleton decided to show up when he heard the words "Game of Thrones."
"It sounded like it was something fun to do, and it was free - so why not?" Singleton said.
Like many, he acknowledged the "nostalgic" component of coloring.
"As a kid, one of the fun things you got to do was color," he said.
But Singleton said he liked the opportunity to try it out as an adult - and likely would become a regular.
"I really think I might come back and try some other things, work up to more intricate things," he said.
Coloring a panel depicting Cersei Lannister, a central character in "Game of Thrones," Sherry Wiggs gave the conniving queen a flowing pink dress in an elaborate image filled with minuscule details and a huge, staring owl in the foreground.
"I'm trying to not make her look so ugly," she said.
Coloring has provided Wiggs a way to "calm down and get out of my head," she said.
Even though one is coloring a set image, there's still plenty of creative freedom, she said.
"You can draw outside the lines and mean it," she said. "The lines don't mean anything."
And it comes with the satisfaction of a job well done once the black-and-white images are filled.
"I will be hanging this on the fridge," Wiggs said. "Everybody's going to have to look at it."