Fifty shades of adult colouring books

2015-08-26 13:37
Some of the colouring books on sale at a bookstore in Cape Town. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

Some of the colouring books on sale at a bookstore in Cape Town. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - Whether for relaxation, an escape or a means of entertainment, adult colouring books are quite the trend and South Africans have eagerly joined the queue with their khokis and crayons.

“It’s like botox for my soul,” retired former art teacher Marelize Wiese told News24 with a giggle.

“It’s actually fantastic and I feel 20 years younger. I am quite addicted and sit colouring in till 01:30 in the morning!”

After hearing about it from a friend in February, the Tyberberg housewife went to look for colouring books, but they were all sold out.

Far from discouraged, she gathered drawings she had sketched over the years and compiled her own colouring book.

She was now set to release her third book and said both men and women were lapping them up.
It featured intricate, symmetrical designs and was ring-binded so people could tear the pages out to frame or use for other projects.

“With colouring, you de-stress totally and go into a mind-set where your brain is working with positive thoughts.”


Major retailer Exclusive Books said its first adult colouring book was released last October for Christmas, and the demand was so high it went out of stock “quite a few times”.

At least two of its adult colouring titles had been on the top 20 sales list every single week, for the past eight months or so.

A design by Marelieze Wiese. (Credit: Marelieze Wiese)

There was a wide variety of topics for such books, but the most common designs featured animals, nature, geometric or organic shapes, landscapes and mandalas (circular figures representing the universe in Hindu and Buddhist symbolism).

Registered art psychotherapist Samantha Davis, who ran a practice in Sea Point and was internationally trained, told News24 that colouring in offered an opportunity for people to feel creative.

“Some people find it relaxing, some people find it meditative, and some find it is an escape or a stress relief,” she said.

The books gave adults "permission" to go back to a childlike space and feel in control.


They could make their own decisions about colours and areas to fill in or leave blank.

She said that in the same way a child might use a self-soothing item such as a dummy, colouring might help people feel calm, comforted and contained.

“Just like a dummy doesn’t replace a mother, a colouring book can’t replace a therapist," she cautioned.

Some books claimed to be “art therapy” or have therapeutic benefits.

Davis said there was a big difference between colouring in someone else’s designs, and the work and interactions that emerged between a client and a trained art therapist.

“In art therapy, I would have blank paper and facilitate the process where a client is able to learn to start to play on their own,” she said.

“It’s about building a relationship and working through issues and concerns, and through what is known and unknown.”

Internal world

She said the images created in art therapy became symbolic and a means of communication between the client and therapist.

It allowed both to start understanding the client’s internal world and was beneficial for people of all ages.

However, she felt colouring definitely had its benefits and encouraged people to perhaps create their own outlines or designs if they were up to it.

Wiese said her designs were bases that people could decorate with textures, doodles, stickers and their own words and inspiring quotes.

“I always wanted to make a difference in this country,” she said.

“The only way I can do that is by doing something I enjoy and by trying to make a positive contribution with my books."


Local singer-songwriter Lize Beekman released her own adult colouring book with hand-drawn mandalas.

She started drawing the circular patterns without actually knowing they were mandalas, after her soul mate fell ill and took her own life in 2012.

One of Beekman's designs. (Credit: Lize Beekman)

“Personally, I kept drawing them because it almost saved my life. I noted that it helped me to breath,” she said.

“Over time, that developed and my thoughts weren’t as scattered. It took me to a place where I could look at one thought at a time and deal with it.”

The 41-year-old, who lived in Melkbosstrand, said she progressed to where she could quiet her mind while drawing.

The book contained 10 mandalas and had sold around 5 000 copies to date.

 “I think what people get from drawing or colouring or walking to the beach or sitting in front of a fireplace will be different for everyone.”

Prices range from R50 to R250, and they come in anything from a pocket size to poster size book.

- Want to try your hand at colouring in? Click here.....

Read more on:    good news

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Financial advisors – Do you need one and should you get one?

The good, the bad, and everything else you need to know when considering hiring a financial advisor.


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.