The World has gone Colour Cray-Cray

Reverting back to childhood through colouring-in.

What’s the deal with adult colouring-in Books?

Colouring-in books are taking the world by storm as mandalas, enchanted forests and fantasy creatures, all outlined in black and white, are being produced for adults to play with in an effort to manage their stress. Publishers are claiming hours spent with their books release pressure and tension and allow traditionally non-creative people to tap into their creative side.


Marleen Visser is a local South African artist with a gallery in Hout Bay. She’s involved in illustrating childrens books and has recently expanded into creating colouring-in books for adults. I caught up with Marleen to try and figure out what the ‘deal’ is with this adult pastime.

Marleen decided to give adult colouring-in books a try after the  doodle book that she had been carrying around for years  (as part of her ‘art/ illustration’ practice) had been commented on numberous time by both family and friends would adored the quirky drawings. Marleen loved the idea of starting a piece of art with just anoutline and then having strangers finish off the creative process.


“I think artists are more willing to share and appreciate the new idea of creating masterpieces together. There is a principle of abundance as we join hands in the creative process. Colouring these images is therapeutic, calming and stimulates creative thinking.”

Marleen creates the illustrations using three pens of varying thickness  and has not settled on a traditional category for her doodles. She says her books have everything, including unique images of South African origin. She hopes that different topics will appeal to different ages, tastes and creative abilities.


But it is not only here in South Africa that colouring-in books are making a difference. According to, Secret Garden, an adult-colouring-in book, is one of the best-selling books in the US. In fact, in February 2016, five of the top ten books where colouring books.  Meanwhile in Australia, large corporate companies such as Wesfarmers and ANZ Bank, have taken to handing out colouring-in books to employees to enjoy.

Instead of going for a coffee-break or taking a smoke break, employees are encouraged to take 10-15 minutes to do a bit of colouring-in. Companies are also encouraging employees to colour instead of looking at emails, while on telephone calls. It’s called creative distraction.


Spending time focused on one task, with the addition of colour, flexes the left brain and allows it to engage in decisions on what colours to useand in whichspaces, creating a time of mediation for a lot of adults, allowing them to not only achieve a goal and create something of beauty, but also to facilitate better concentration and increased relaxation.

Adult colouring-in books have been around since the 1960’s, but social media allows us to display our work to all and with that, this hobby has really taken flight!  With that in mind, publishers have taken to creating books of higher quality allowing the market to flourish.


Katie Matthews, founder of Wandertooch Media, Inc, is currenly publishing her first adult book titled ‘Travel Between the Lines Adult Coloring Book.’ Her idea was to create a travel-themed book that is based on actual travel photos. As adults colour-in they get to experience the destination through the book, and nobody loves travelling, real or virtual, more than the BigCityDwellers.

Of course, the best thing about these books is that as a hobby they are not expensive. The books contain loads of drawings and there are also plenty of illustrations freely downloadable on the internet. While some of the more professional pencil crayons can be a bit costly, you can always just dive into the student ones to start off with, thus truly taking a step back in time.

Contact details:
Marleen(Paddy) Visser
T: (021)7907749
C: 0829012653

Marleen Visser’s Doodles are credited and copyrighted to Marleen and Fantasi Publishers.

Celeste Beckerling
About me

Celeste gave up corporate life to pursue her love of story telling through writing and illustrating children's books. She is also a yoga teacher, a wife and a mom of 5 rescues (3 cats, 2 dogs). In her spare time she loves to have adventures in nature, read books in her big armchair and run creative workshops for those who want to get back in touch with their doodling side.


Floor Reading Nook 01
Reading Nooks to Inspire
September 14, 2016