Color your way to wellness and focus

Illustrator Johanna Basford calls adults’ desire to color a digital detox.  “Coloring is an analog activity…. You’re not distracted by the constant chatter of Twitter or the lure of Facebook. You’re unplugging,” Basford told The Smithsonian.  

She started her black and white silk-screen designs by necessity, because she couldn’t afford colorful pens other students used, she told the BBC. Years later, her Secret Garden coloring book sold 12 million copies in many countries, and started the adult coloring craze. The Scottish illustrator has created Enchanted Forest and Magical Jungle coloring books and also a guide to drawing the flora, fauna and frills with your own creative approach.

Johanna Basford, illustrator and coloring book queen. (Photo: Johanna Basford website)

 “I’m on a mission to make the world a happier, more creative place through coloring,” Basford told The Smithsonian.

So is Mint Artists Guild. And soon, we will debut our first coloring book, called Detroit Beautiful. It will be available first in the Mint Shop online. All the coloring pages were created by Detroit youth in the Mint Creative Summer Jobs program and show joyful activities along trails and walkways, at the DIA and in Palmer Park, near our Mint Studios.

We know coloring may sound frivolous and yet it brings first-rate benefits, documented by university research. Read on for some specifics.

Calm your mind.  Researchers say coloring may contribute to wellbeing and relaxation. “Coloring requires modest attention focused outside of self awareness,” Dr. Scott M. Bea, a clinical psychologist, told the Cleveland Clinic. “It’s a simple activity that takes us outside ourselves,” and may relax us, similar to knitting or a Sunday drive.

People who spend all day on computers or phones may find coloring at night shifts their mindset to “whimsical and nostalgic and cozy,” Basford told The Smithsonian.

Stir your creativity.  A coloring page could serve as your warm up or sit ups for creative energy. After coloring for 20 minutes, undergraduates displayed more mindfulness, creative thinking and exhibited better visual attention, researchers at the University of the West of England found. “Coloring could be an effective way of … improving cognitive performance in students,” psychologist and study co-author Nicola Holt Ph.D. said.

Reduce depression. Daily coloring may soothe a troubled mind. Coloring for 10 or more minutes a day reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression in women ages 18 to 36, researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand found. “We feel comfortable adding colouring-in to the growing list of creative activities for improving mental health outcomes,” Tomlin Conner, Ph.D., a joint author of the study told The Guardian.

Children’s growth. Coloring also improves fine motor skills and help children train their brains to focus. It can be used to teach children about science, nature, math and more. And it is a peaceful, calming activity in a world filled with violence and tension.

Mint is committed to giving away coloring pages at almost all our events and activities – often alongside other arts and crafts. We will be back in Detroit’s parks this summer with our coloring book as a prize for some lucky creative children. While we do not expect to sell as many coloring books as Johanna Basford has, we hope you will buy one this year – or volunteer with us at a community art event or Art in the Parks this summer.

© Vickie Elmer, 2022 for Mint Artists Guild .

Coloring page by Natasha Guest, © Mint Artists Guild