Thoughts of coloring may leave you nostalgic for the smell of waxy crayons and cartoon-themed coloring pages. But in the past decade, coloring has received somewhat of an adult makeover. Those well beyond their preschool years are harnessing the joy of coloring for meditation and relaxation. But the coloring creativity doesn’t stop there.
Take this classic coloring concept one step further — and literally flip it on its head — and you have the newest creative outlet for adults: reverse coloring books.
Wondering what the heck reverse coloring is? Well, you aren’t alone. Internet searches for reverse coloring skyrocketed in 2023. According to Google search data, interest in reverse coloring books doubled in the past 12 months alone. The growing interest even led reverse coloring books to make the Google Holiday 100, the search platform’s holiday gifting list defined by the year’s biggest search trends in the United States. The data-driven gift guide spans various categories, including fashion, home, beauty, wellness, electronics and, yes, even crafts. And that’s where reverse coloring makes an appearance.
So, what is reverse coloring?
Meant to encourage creativity and mindfulness, reverse coloring gives you the colors — pre-painted watercolors, to be exact. You, on the other hand, supply the creativity — and the lines.
That’s right: Reverse coloring books come filled with pages upon pages of vibrant watercolor blobs. Yet there are no lines defining the artist’s image. With reverse coloring, you create the lines using a pen, marker, pencil or anything you can draw with.
Artist Kendra Norton created the concept of reverse coloring back in 2018, spreading the idea through a viral Kickstarter campaign. On the heels of the campaign’s success, Norton released her first reverse coloring book in 2021. Two subsequent reverse coloring books followed in 2022.
With reverse coloring capturing the internet’s collective attention this year, Norton’s books make a great gift for the person on your list who could use a calming outlet. Or a reverse coloring book could even be a good gift for yourself. You deserve relaxation, too.
You can check out Norton’s three reverse coloring books below to get a better idea of the creative concept and purchase them on Amazon.
1. The Reverse Coloring Book, $9.90
Norton’s first book, simply titled The Reverse Coloring Book, popularized the idea of reverse coloring. The 50-page book contains whimsical watercolors as a base to add your own lines, creating a unique art piece.
Most of the works in The Reverse Coloring Book are floral in theme, like the picture on the right. Some, however, are more abstract. The photo on the left is a prime example — what do you see?
Norton’s second book, The Reverse Coloring Book: Through the Seasons, includes watercolor works meant to inspire thoughts of the four seasons. The book is filled with 50 abstract watercolor works that celebrate vibrant spring colors, heated summer hues, shifting fall shades and calming winter blues.
This book’s watercolor inspiration is vast. While the picture on the left may remind you of a bouquet of spring roses, the image on the right is more creatively challenging — maybe you see falling autumn leaves or a collection of crisp apples.
3. The Reverse Coloring Book: Mindful Journeys, $13.49
Norton’s third reverse coloring book honors the practice of mindfulness. The Reverse Coloring Book: Mindful Journeys includes 50 watercolors created specifically to promote mindfulness, focusing on intricate abstract compositions that stretch creativity and concentration.
While the left image may be reminiscent of florals from Norton’s previous book, the right image is completely abstract. And that begs the question: What do you see in these calming blue and purple hues?
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