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Adult colouring books top Canadian bestsellers

Little did she know her art would be appreciated globally. “You can make one single painting and then a few people can enjoy [it].

Little did she know her art would be appreciated globally.

“You can make one single painting and then a few people can enjoy [it]. But, to create drawings that you can put in a book and send all over the world, people can not only enjoy it but also use that to explore their own creativity,’’ said the Alberta-based illustrator and art instructor, who sold 2,000 copies of her debut self-published adult colouring book within two weeks.

Salamon’s success is not an isolated case.

So far this year, four of the top 10 Canadian bestsellers across all categories are colouring books -— a phenomenon unseen in a decade of charting sales, said Noah Genner, CEO of BookNet Canada.

“It’s the kind of thing that will be given a lot as gifts, which is maybe why it’s being pushed up into the bestseller list now, too,’’ said Genner, adding that works from Scottish illustrator Johanna Basford — including Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest — are examples of surprise runaway hits.

“I imagine we’re going to see more for a little while.’’

Salamon’s Awakening: Artful Colouring, released in September, found an immediate audience at home and in the United States, U.K., Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Mexico and others.

“I never in my wildest dreams imagined that would happen,’’ said Salamon of the first-run sellout.

“I was thinking maybe in my biggest dreams I would sell [the first 2,000 copies] within a year.

“I’ve already had to order another run — this time 5,000 — and that just came in last week, and I’m already getting quotes for another run. It’s nuts.’’

Salamon was also unprepared for just how her colouring book project would resonate as she documented it online.

Among those following Salamon’s progress was a terminally ill woman from Calgary, whose doctor recommended she try colouring to help manage stress and anxiety.

“Her husband was saying when my book was published, his gift to her was to drive her out to my house so that she could meet me in person,’’ recalled Salamon, 34, who lives in Turner Valley, Alta., about 30 minutes southwest of Calgary.

“It was just so sweet because you could tell she was quite happy and overcome. It’s just so amazing . . . To have the ability to use my art and my journey in a way that inspires others and can even make them happy like that -— even just for a moment by meeting me -— is pretty incredible. And pretty surprising.’’

The co-founder of arts and crafts retailer Brika said they’ve “jumped on the adult colouring bandwagon.”

“I definitely think, on the one hand, there’s a throwback to childhood and the idea of taking out your pencils and crayons, and doing that is really nice,’’ said Brika co-founder Jen Koss.

“There is a really therapeutic element to colouring . . . When you get going and get into the zone and you’re colouring something that’s small and really intricate, I think people find it really relaxing.’’

— The Canadian Press

As a grandma, Pat Davies has more opportunities to colour in her life than most.

It’s not just a good way to spend time with the grandkids. For Davies, there’s a spiritual aspect to picking up her pencil crayons, which she’s hoping to share at a workshop on Saturday.

“Colouring has the same effect as a meditative practice does in slowing you down, in de-stressing you,” Davies said.

Colouring books aimed at adults, whose themes range from mandalas to tropical fish to fairy tales, are becoming more popular as a way to take a break from the hubbub of everyday life, Davies said.

“Meditation is a really powerful spiritual practice, but a lot of people have trouble doing it: they say they can’t do it because their mind’s too busy; they can’t quiet themselves down; they can’t slow themselves down.”

Colouring for 10 or 15 minutes doesn’t have the same barrier to entry.

“People like it because it’s not too woo woo, it’s not that New Age-y or way out there, because we all coloured,” Davies said.

“If you went to school, you coloured. It’s not foreign to us. It’s something very comfortable. It’s something familiar.”

The workshop is open to adults interested in learning about colouring’s benefits.

“Children already have a hang on this whole thing,” she said.

Admission is free to all, and materials are provided. Davies said she’ll explain the benefits of colouring, and lead a short meditation exercise to start, to get participants in the proper frame of mind before they pick up their art supplies.

It runs from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Desert Gardens, 540 Seymour St.