Hedgehogs, Play-Doh and Crayons: A Return to Adult Creativity

There’s been a plethora of articles on the rising popularity of adult coloring books lately and this particular one caught my attention and inspired me to expand on the idea and share with you my recent adventures in the world of coloring, art and sculpting with a hedgehog named Ernie.

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The answer to the question posed in the article referenced above was simple for me since it is what prompted me to add color to Mandalas back in 2006. Why are jaded adults buying stacks of coloring books? For me and many of my friends, it is for Insight, Healing and Self-Expression. Coloring is calming and peaceful and when small, furry friends like Ernie are included, it is just plain fun!

How else can we explain that last month, 8 of the 20 top selling books on Amazon were  coloring books designed for adults?  Here’s an interesting WSJ article that further explores these trends.

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This new phenomena is also helping to connect us in a real, live and tangible way. Public libraries are offering spaces to host adult coloring with sessions titled “Stress Relief through Doodling” and a wellness coach in San Diego hosts “Color Yourself Calm” sessions in her home (active cell phones not allowed).

Wow, little did I know that 10 years ago when I invited some girlfriends over for a bottle of wine, a box of Crayolas and a Mandala coloring book, we would be the vanguard of the modern healing-through-art (and wine) movement.

As our collective blood pressure and cortisol levels have climbed and impacted our health and well being, escape from the stress of our frantic, always-on world of social media is alluring. These activities give us permission to concentrate and focus on something for more than a minute- without constant digital interruptions. Art and creative expressions allows a different part of our brain to be stimulated and exercised and for me, it calms like a cool cloth on itchy eyes. Coloring fosters creativity, new ideas and insights that posting on Facebook or reading Tweets just doesn’t do.


On a more pure and simple level, these activities tap into childhood joy and give us pleasure. For many, just the smell of Play-Doh brings forth vivid memories of happy and youthful creations. I smile when I swish it through my fingers!


Another positive outcome of painting, coloring and sculpting is the ability to produce some more tangible and lasting- something more than 1s and 0s of the digital world. Something you can touch with your skin and see without the need for an electronic glass screen or display. A lasting object you can send in the mail (via the Postal service) as a gift to a friend or family member. Our art is something we can proudly post on the refrigerator at home or in your cubical at work. It gives us a sense of accomplishment, finishing something that will last and is comforting in our age of fleeting Snapchat images and endless streams of 140 character Twitter posts.

So, why is Ernie the hedgehog so popular? For many of the same reasons as the popularity of the adult coloring, he makes people smiles and encourages child-like creativity, happiness and joy. Plus he is a great model in my photos!

So foster your creativity with a child-like zeal and enjoy the happy and calming effects.  Added bonus:  you just might make yourself and others break out in a hug smile- just like Ernie does.