Colouring books top bestseller lists around the globe, selling millions of copies each year. Enthusiasts say the hobby helps them cope with stress, anxiety and depression. While experts emphasize that colouring isn’t the same as art therapy, there is evidence that the act’s repetitive nature can release tension. Some people are soothed by the meditative focus required to fill in intricate patterns and landscapes. Some appreciate the low-pressure creative outlet and feel rewarded when they complete pages. Others just enjoy feeling like a kid again.
There’s an option for every taste and style. Scottish artist Johanna Basford helped launch the trend with 2013’s Secret Garden, a collection of ornate floral images. For a different experience, there’s Thrill Murray, published by the British collective Belly Kids, which revisits scenes from the career of actor Bill Murray.
Fantastic Cities, a new title by Ontario illustrator Steve McDonald, brings users on an urban joyride. The aerial views of real and imagined cities are a stunning survey of human-made environments, from the streets of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., to a favela in Rio de Janeiro.
“I like the idea that, because the drawings are so detailed and because of the time it takes to colour each page, people are giving some thought to architectural styles and patterns,” says McDonald. “This book is the story of our human habitat and our history on the planet, of how we build dwellings and how we do it differently in different places.”