Saturday, March 25, 2017

Discovering the Creative Arts Therapies: Presentation at Haymarket Gainesville Community Library

I will be presenting on art therapy along with two music therapists to help bring awareness of expressive arts therapies to the public. 

When/Where: Sunday, March 26, 1:00 p.m. Haymarket Gainesville Library Community Room 

Learn from creative therapy experts about the benefits of art and music therapy in bringing about positive changes at the cognitive, emotional, social, and physical levels. For adults; no registration required. 

 Art therapy is one of several modalities under the umbrella of Expressive Therapies that can bring tremendous help to people in many ways. Licensed art therapist Lacy Mucklow will present an overview about the field of art therapy and cover many topics, such as what is art therapy (and what is it not?), who it benefits, and how it is used. NeuroSound Music Therapy will discuss what music therapy is, how the brain perceives music, and how music therapists use specific interventions and techniques to bring about positive changes at cognitive, emotional, social, physiological, and physical levels. Music therapists Kelsi Yingling and Kate Potrykus will discuss and demonstrate specific interventions they use in a variety of populations, including special education, mental health, geriatrics, and healthcare.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Why Every Working Woman Should Make Art - According to Art Therapists


Entity explores why women should make art. You’ve finally escaped work after a hectic Monday full of meetings and projects — and, of course, you hit traffic right away. By the time you finally walk into your apartment, you know exactly what you want to do: nothing. So, like usual, you end the day with a pizza dinner and watching hours of “Orange is the New Black” on Netflix … and, like usual, when you go to bed, you feel like you’ve wasted part of your day. What’s a girl to do when she wants to relax but also feel productive?

You might want to get in touch with your inner Andy Warhol, whether with the help of a college course, a private business or even a licensed art therapist. To find out exactly how many benefits can come with making art, ENTITY recently talked with Justin Davis, an art therapist working with drawchange (an Atlanta-based nonprofit that provides art therapy programs to children in homeless shelters), and Jenna Hartom, a creative arts therapist who works with psychiatric patients at the Montefiore Medical Center (one of the top ranked medical centers in the US).

Whether you’re interested in painting or pottery, here are five expert-backed reasons every working woman should get artsy ASAP!


Whether you’re chasing a promotion or just starting your first job, working can be stressful. Sometimes we’re so busy at work that we don’t even notice how stressed we feel. How can you keep your sanity while keeping a paycheck? Let your mind wander from work by picking up a paintbrush! According to Justin Davis, “When we make art and express whatever it is that’s inside us, it is cathartic. The kinesthetic and oftentimes repetitive motions involved in painting, drawing, sculpting, even zentangling and doodling, can be a self soothing act that calms the mind.”

Recent research supports Davis’s claim: one 2014 study on college students found that participants given pre-drawn patterns to color experienced a significant reduction in depression, tension and anxiety. But more than just adult coloring books can reduce stress. A study published just last year found that, no matter your level of artistic skill or what kind of visual art you do, making art for 45 minutes drastically lessens your body’s stress levels. All of this goes to say that a coloring pencil might be the secret weapon you’ve been looking for to go from feeling stressed to blessed. And you thought you doodled in calculus class just because you were bored!


As many of you have probably realized, the work at most 9-to-5 jobs isn’t actually restricted to those hours. Instead, you often bring problems from work – for example, uncertainty about a slogan on a new ad campaign or worries about conflicts with a co-worker – home with you. As ironic as it sounds, taking time off thinking by enjoying an art project may actually help you solve the problem. While more research needs to be done, one 2010 study observed students from six schools for two years and found that those who made art excelled in three areas of problem-solving skills when given 15 minutes to design their own chair. Art has also been shown to make your brain work in ways that it typically doesn’t. When you make art, your brain also works in ways that it typically doesn’t. After all, unless you work at a paint store, you probably aren’t usually wondering if teal complements or clashes with magenta!

Besides giving you different perspectives on your work problems, art can also help you with personal issues. For example, Jenna Hartom has seen how making art can help adults with illnesses like severe depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. “Although everyone is different, most of the time I see that art making becomes a common lens through which people discover and share what they are going through,” she says. “Through art making, [people] work through feelings and learn ways to cope.” Whether you’re struggling to find unique solutions to work problems, cope with mental health issues or heal emotional wounds, art can open up your mind to new possibilities and perspectives.


Have you ever looked at a piece of art and been hit by a wave of emotion? Maybe, like with the Mona Lisa, curiosity overwhelmed you. Or maybe the sight of Edward Munch’s “The Scream” immediately made your stomach start doing backflips. Either way, art has the power to emotionally affect its viewers – and, by the same token, artists can reveal their own emotions on canvas. Whether you’re feeling ecstatic over a promotion, anxious about an upcoming presentation or frustrated at the co-worker who keeps stealing your packed lunch, you can explore those feelings through artwork.

Sometimes art may even be the only way you can get in touch with your feelings. “People who have been through difficult experiences may not always be able to verbally express what has happened to them or they may just have trouble identifying how they are feeling about it,” says Davis. “Art acts as a vehicle to communicate those feelings even when we don’t have the words; especially when we don’t have the words.”

Art can also help you understand yourself better, according to Hartom. “Anyone who is open to the experience of creating can learn more about themselves through this process,” she says. “Our emotional selves are complicated, so accessing emotions through art making can shed light on areas that we may not be aware of.” You’ve probably heard the saying, “Wear your heart on your sleeve.” Well, these benefits seem to suggest that you should wear your heart on your artwork instead.


 Once you’ve created your own art, you end up with two amazing things. On a physical level, you have a new “masterpiece.” You can frame it, sell it or give it to someone. At the same time, though, you also receive the artist experience. What that involves can vary from person to person, but Davis shares that art benefits can range from people with depression finding “relief and mood improvement” to previously lonely people finding “increased self esteem and making connections with other people in a group setting.” Art can even be a healthy way for you to express anger.

In fact, studies have found that taking part in artistic activities can put people in a “flow” that lets them regulate strong emotions or tamper irrational thoughts. Basically, art is one free (and much more fun) form of anti-anxiety medicine. Doing crafts like knitting has also been shown increase the amount of dopamine released by the brain, which boosts happiness. In one study, 81 percent of participants with depression reported feeling happier after knitting. You don’t have to toil over your work for hours to enjoy some of these benefits, either. A study performed last year found that, after just 45 minutes, 73 percent of participants showed an increase in feelings of self-efficacy. The best part? Feeling more positive and confident in yourself and your skills will only help you kick butt in all areas of life – at home or in the office. 


 Maybe you’re reading this article and nodding your head, but you know you’ll never try making your own artwork because you’re “not an artist.” However, Hartom says, “We all have innate creativity and sometimes it is just a matter of suspending judgment in order to open that door.” Davis agrees, comparing starting to make art to starting yoga. “The first time you went, you probably felt mixed emotions: ‘This felt good. This felt uncomfortable. I can’t do all the poses. I’m not any good at this. I feel ridiculous.’ But as you stick with it, you get better at the poses, your body begins to feel better, and you probably feel a lot more relaxed. You have to stick with [art] to really get the most out of it.”

And, truthfully, you have two possible end results if you try adding art to your routine: falling in love with art and embracing it as your new favorite hobby…or leaving it for another creative outlet. Finding new interests and ways to spend your time helps keep life interesting. And, even if art isn’t your thang, you’ll probably learn a few new facts about yourself along the way. And the better you know yourself, the better you know how to chase your dreams and meet your goals. Entity reports on why every working woman should make art and the benefits of art therapy. The power to lower your stress, increase your creativity and boost your self esteem is (literally) in your hands. You just need to make the choice to explore your artistic side, whether you’re a natural artist or an accomplished business women.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Happy National Coloring Book Day!

I hope everyone has gotten to celebrate today by coloring for a little while!  I got to celebrate by presenting on the benefits of coloring with a coloring time and signing session afterwards.  


Wednesday, July 06, 2016

AATA Conference 2016

I enjoyed my time at this year's annual American Art Therapy Association Conference, this year held in Baltimore, MD!  I had a great time meeting with colleagues, former classmates, former interns, and hearing some enlightening presentations.  I also enjoyed some great food in the Inner Harbor!

The last time the AATA conference was in Baltimore was 40 years ago, in 1976!

A bright view of Baltimore's Inner Harbor with restaurants, shopping, museums, and more!

A beautiful view of the Inner Harbor from my room

The "Color Me..." Series was well-represented in the AATA Bookstore!

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A new pigment of blue as stunning as Lapis Lazuli but much less expensive (and less toxic) is discovered...

A scientist discovered this stunning new shade of blue 
 Artnet Sarah Cascone, Artnet Jun. 21, 2016, 5:04 PM

OSU Chemist Mas Subramanian. 
Courtesy of Oregon State University. 

The world's newest shade of blue, a brilliantly bright, durable pigment called YInMn blue, has been licensed for commercial use and is already in the hands of some artists. 

The pigment was discovered in 2009 by chemist Mas Subramanian and his team at Oregon State University while they were conducting experiments connected to electronics. For one series of tests, the scientists mixed black manganese oxide with a variety of chemicals and heated them to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. (The name comes from the pigment's elemental makeup, which includes Yttrium, Indium and Manganese.) 

In a serendipitous accident, one of the resulting samples turned a vivid shade of blue. Further testing found that the unique crystal structure of the resulting compound kept the color from fading, even when exposed to oil or water.

The newly-discovered YInMn blue is now commercially available from the Shepherd Color Company. Courtesy of Oregon State University. 

"Ever since the early Egyptians developed some of the first blue pigments, the pigment industry has been struggling to address problems with safety, toxicity and durability," said Subramanian in statement released by OSU. Existing blue pigments include ultramarine, made from ground lapis lazuli, and toxic alternatives such as cobalt blue and Prussian blue, making OSU's discovery a major breakthrough. YInMn, Subramanian added, is "more durable, safe and fairly easy to produce … it also appears to be a new candidate for energy efficiency," as it reflects a large amount of infrared light. A roof painted in YInMn blue could potentially help keep the building cooler. "This new blue pigment is a sign that there are new pigments to be discovered in the inorganic pigments family," added Geoffrey T. Peake, the research and development manager of the Shepherd Color Company, which has licensed the patent is already selling samples of YInMn blue. The pigment is still undergoing testing before it is made more widely available. 

Carol Chapel, CaMas001, 
made with YInMn blue using DryPoint printing. 
Courtesy Carol Chapel. 

Speaking to artnet News by phone, Subramanian said that the future of this new blue looked promising. "Several companies have been working with [Shepherd Color Company]," he revealed, citing Pittsburgh Paints and Glass as one example. The chemist has also been fielding plenty of inquiries about his discovery from people on the more creative end. "I have sent samples to artists who have used the pigment in their artwork," he said. So far, those artists have been mainly local, including OSU applied visual arts major Madelaine Corbin, who has been making her first foray into chemistry as intern in Subramanian's lab, while using YInMn blue in her artwork. 

Madelaine Corbin, OSU Memorial Union Façade. 
Courtesy Oregon State University. 

Subramanian has also fielded interest from art restorers. "Our pigment is useful for art restoration, because it is similar to ultramarine but really more durable," he explained. He's perhaps most proud of YInMn's inclusion in the Forbes Pigment Collection at the Harvard Art Museums, which serves as world history of color, with some pigments dating back to the Middle Ages. 

Follow artnet News on Facebook. Read the original article on Artnet. Copyright 2016. 
Follow Artnet on Twitter.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, June 06, 2016

Real Simple Magazine highlights that making art reduces stress

Real Simple Magazine featured an article that highlights research from Drexel University showing that there was a significant reduction in stress levels after making art. They also list their Top 6 favorite coloring books, and "Color Me Happy" made the list!

The stress-relieving benefits are real. 

By Samantha Zabell 

You may think you’re “not creative” or “bad at art,” but a new study from Drexel University says you should head to the craft store anyway. According to new research, making art can significantly reduce stress levels, whether you’re gluing macaroni noodles or painting museum-worthy landscapes. 

The results of the study, published in the journal Art Therapy, were not entirely surprising to lead researcher Girija Kaimal, EdD, who said in a statement: “That’s the core idea in art therapy: Everyone is creative and can be expressive in the visual arts when working in a supportive setting.” Even people who rarely picked up a crayon experienced the same stress-relieving benefits as those who were practiced in making art. 

 The researchers studied 39 adults between the ages of 18 and 59, and measured their cortisol (stress hormone) levels before and after a 45-minute art session. Participants were free to experiment with everything from markers to clay, without instruction or direction. Following the session, 75 percent of participants experienced a drop in cortisol levels. The other 25 percent experienced heightened cortisol levels, but Kaimal explained that those individuals were not necessarily more stressed—heightened cortisol levels can also suggest engagement or enjoyment. 

 There was no significant correlation between skill or materials used and cortisol levels, meaning modeling clay was just as soothing as coloring. But because younger participants consistently exhibited lower cortisol levels after making art, Kaimal believes creative arts would especially benefit stressed students. 

 If you don't have a robust craft closet at your disposal, there is a simple way to reap the same benefits without much mess—adult coloring books. You’ve likely read about the craze, which proves these intricately designed books are no longer just for kids. In 2015, 12 million copies of coloring books were sold in the U.S., compared to just 1 million in 2014. Here, our favorite books to help you unwind:

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, June 03, 2016

The Huffington Post includes "Color Me Calm" and "Color Me Stress-Free" on Top 15 Coloring Book List

Both "Color Me Calm" and "Color Me Stress-Free" made Dr. Martinez's favorite 15 coloring books for the Huffington Post!

My Top 15 Favorite Adult Coloring Books, and Why...
06/03/2016 11:28 am 11:28:13 | Updated Jun 03, 2016

Dr. Nikki Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC
Tele-health counselor for, Adjunct Professor, Consultant, and Writer

1. Mandalas to Color, Volume I, by Who does not love a Mandala? There is something about these intricate patterns that allows us to get lost in the beauty of them, and these are some of the best quality I have come across.

2. Outside the Lines, curated by Souris Hong-Porretta. If you are someone who is obsessed with the likes of Gary Baseman, Shepard Fairy, AIKO, Keith Haring, and more than 100 other artists, this is the book for you. Edgy and creative, the fun and complexity is attracting.

3. Dia De Los Muertos, Volume 1. 50 pages of Sugar Skulls. I am not sure about you, but I am in love with sugar skulls, the detail, the beauty, and the ability to make something dark, but beautiful. If you love them too, this is the book for you!

4. Color Me Calm, by Lacy Mucklow and Angela Porter. These two ladies truly came together to form a series of images that would calm even the most anxious person. They are lovely, original, and enjoyable for anyone who chooses to start with this.

5. Coloring for Grown-Ups, by Ryan Hunter and Taige Jensen are just plain fun. They are edgy, silly, and undeniably fun. A great gift for yourself or anyone with a great sense of humor. You will not only get lost in the coloring, you are bound to giggle as you do it.

6. Colorama Color Me Happy, Coloring Book, by Telebrands Press is a great book for anyone. They are clean, clear, and cheerful. A terrific book to get you started, and a gift that will be appreciated by anyone who receives them.

7. Colorful Flowers, Volume I, by is a personal favorite. I will admit, I have a bias for varied and beautiful flowers, something I like to think I share with many. These books are not only beautiful, they are sturdy, high quality, and real remembrance that will hold up over time. While some books may be a few dollars cheaper, I think the quality more than makes up for it with these.

8. Breathe, Volume 3, by Angie Grace, These books are small, portable, and well done. The images are inventive engaging. A great book, at a wonderful price. A nice way to calm yourself for a small investment if you are starting out with adult coloring as a hobby.

9. The Tattoo Coloring Book, by Megamunden. If you are like me, and you love tattoos just as much as you love flowers, because aren’t we all eclectic? You will really enjoy this book. It has wonderful traditional tattoo designs for you to color the way you always want the professionals too when you watch them.

10. Outside the Lines, Too, Curated by Souris Hong. In the second installment of this series, you will not be let down with images created by the minds of another 100 imaginative minds. If you love the likes of Tim Biskup, Caroline Hwang, Jack Black, and many more, you will love every second you spend lost coloring this book.

11. Color Me Stress-Free, by Lacy Mucklow and Angela Porter. In another installment of this collaboration, the two come up with works that are bound to reduce stress, create relaxation, and foster creativity. I find the series to all be very well done.

12. Colorama, Flowers, Paisleys, Stained Glass and More, Coloring Book, by Bulbhead. Another simple, clean, and pretty book for the person who is looking to dip their toe in adult coloring. It also makes a wonderful stocking stuffer for any creative friend.

13. Calming Doodles, Volume I, by As mentioned before, a few of these, and a pack of colored pencils, make a really sharp gift. Not only are the pictures and books high quality, but they look like you have spent invested in this hobby for them. Fun, function, and flare, at its best!

14. Balance, Volume I, by Angie Grace. This is another book in her series, and carries the same portability, reduction of size, mixed with lovely images and centering coloring activities for the novice to the expert.

15. Calming Therapy, an Anti-Stress Coloring Book, by Hannah Davies, Richard Merritt, and Cindy Wilde. I saved one of my absolute favorites for last. This book helped me fill more hours than I can name during recovery from surgery. The book is sturdy and attractive, and the pictures are very engaging. You find yourself not wanting to walk away until you have finished a piece.

So there is my list of my 15 favorite books that I have come across, and that really help meet any interest, need, and function that they are intended for. Check them out online and see if any might be a good fit for you. Perhaps another book by one of these artists will be the right fit for you, or maybe a complete other book will be the one that touches a note with you. No matter what you choose, enjoy, relax, and regroup in a wonderful way.

Follow Dr. Nikki Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC on Twitter:

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, May 26, 2016

OU Art Therapy Students create therapeutic murals at Bethesda

Bethesda unveils therapeutic murals

Bethesda recently celebrated new therapeutic murals for children healing from the trauma of sexual abuse. 

 Over the last five months, local artists and students from the University of Oklahoma worked to create therapeutic art murals at Bethesda, a nonprofit agency in Norman. The art murals were created in therapeutic group rooms that facilitate the growth and healing of children who have suffered the trauma of sexual abuse. 

On May 17, the Board of Directors of Bethesda and community supporters, like Von Allen of United Way of Norman, gathered to unveil the new therapeutic art murals. 

 “It only takes a second to see that the art has a therapeutic purpose,” said Travis Humphrey, executive director of Bethesda. “The murals become a resource to help our clients regain self esteem, learn healthy coping skills and process the abuse they have suffered.” 

 The murals were made possible through a grant provided by the Norman Arts Council. Bethesda provides essential therapeutic services to children who suffer from trauma caused by sexual abuse. “The demand for services continues to rise,” Humphrey said. “It is our goal to make sure all children can heal from the trauma of sexual abuse. The murals create an environment that facilitates healing for children.” 

 To learn more about Bethesda, visit

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, May 05, 2016

"Color Me Fearless" Makes Aspire Magazine's Top 10 Inspirational Books for May 2016!

I'm very honored that my and Angela's book "Color Me Fearless" made the Top 10 Inspiring Books for May 2016 in Aspire Magazine! Thank you Linda Joy, Publisher for including our book in ‪#‎AspireMag‬'s list with other women authors who are empowering others!

Top 10 Inspirational Books – May 2016

Welcome to this month’s Aspire Magazine Top 10 Inspirational Books list! You’ll discover inspirational and empowering books, written by women and for women, each dedicated to sharing a universal message of love, hope and self-empowerment. Through their wisdom-filled books, these visionary female authors are illuminating the path for women on the journey of healing and self-discovery. Add these transformational books to your inspired living resource library.

Color Me Fearless: Nearly 100 Coloring Templates to Boost Strength and Courage (A Zen Coloring Book)

by Lacy Mucklow

The perfect book for stressed-out adults who want to reconnect, simply and easily, with their inner creativity. Color Me Fearless is a guided coloring book for adults coping with their own daily fears. Art therapist Lacy Mucklow and artist Angela Porter offer up 100 coloring templates, all designed to boost strength, courage, and confidence. Organized into seven therapeutically themed chapters, readers can explore the benefits of putting pencil (or crayon!) to paper and channel their day-to-day stresses into a satisfying, creative environment. Color Me Fearless is the perfect way step back from the fears of everyday life, color, and relax!


Labels: , , , ,

Monday, May 02, 2016

Why adults coloring books are the latest trend

Why adult coloring books are the latest trend

Dee Ledger can remember exactly when she found solace, if not salvation, after the death of her 10-week-old son. It is where she found it, and how, that surprised her: in a coloring book.  Ledger, a former English teacher and hospice chaplain, had always been able to use words and prayer to find peace in difficult times and to help others do the same. But after her son died in April 2011, she needed something more, something different, to calm her nerves and help soothe her grief. “I was looking for something quiet that could get rid of this restlessness,” she says, to help quell the churning thoughts that made it hard for her to focus or sleep.  Back then, coloring books weren’t the phenomenon they are today. Ledger found hers in a spiritual catalogue.

Now, of course, adult coloring books are ubiquitous, crowding bookstores and bestseller lists. Coloring-book groups have sprouted up everywhere — in libraries and cafes, on Facebook and Instagram.

In 2015, an estimated 12 million adult coloring books were sold in the United States, according to Nielsen Bookscan. There are adult coloring books for hipsters, “Dr. Who” fans, cat lovers, Taylor Swift devotees, and admirers of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — pretty much anyone with a niche interest and a need to relax. In other words, everyone.

“It’s easy to pooh-pooh coloring books as just another fad,” Ledger says. But maybe, she says, we shouldn’t be so dismissive: “Anything can be a fad, even prayer.”  For Ledger and others, coloring books offer a real elixir, a way of getting past hurdles — mental, physical or both — that can’t be replicated by more-traditional approaches.

Joanne Schwandes, a 67-year-old Silver Spring resident, says that coloring books have boosted her confidence in fine motor skills weakened by a tremor in her arm. A Virginia mother says that coloring has helped her stay calm in the face of her son’s violent behavior. On one Facebook coloring group, members share their creations along with their stories of healing — using coloring as a tool against self-harming or as a way to manage the effects of physical illness or fend off depression and other difficulties.

Coloring books work like other mindfulness techniques such as yoga and meditation, says Craig Sawchuk, a clinical psychologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Such approaches work “almost like a volume knob to turn down the sympathetic nervous system, the stress response.” Coloring can help slow down heart rate and respiration, loosen muscles and stimulate the brain, he says. Coloring has a “grounding effect” he says, a benefit that can be amplified with deliberate focus on the process — “the gentle pressing of the crayon or pencil on the page, the texture of the paper across your hand, and the soft sounds of the coloring instrument moving back and forth in a rhythmic fashion,” he says.

Using coloring books to help relieve stress “is like learning a new habit,” says Sawchuk. “New habits are best learned when you set aside routine time each day to focus,” he says.

Although there have been no large clinical studies of coloring books, the benefits of coloring are comparable to those of mindfulness practices, he says, which have been studied. And coloring can help with more-severe problems beyond stress; Sawchuk spoke about one patient who used coloring books to stop an obsessive habit of pickiSawchukng at her skin.

Indeed, art therapists have been using coloring books for years. “There’s a self-soothing meditative benefit because you are doing the same motion over and over, especially with symmetrical drawings,” says Lina Assad Cates, a psychotherapist and board-certified art therapist in the District who uses coloring books as part of her practice. “The books help create boundaries — the literal boundaries of the lines and the metaphorical boundaries for drawing healthy boundaries in relationships. There’s also the potential benefit of just mastering something you’ve created.”

This reflects Ledger’s experience. “As a pastor, I am fascinated by how easily coloring becomes meditative,” she says. “By selecting colors and working with the design, I find that I can lose myself in ways that are healing and creative.”

Ledger, who lost her husband to cancer in 2013, less than a year after giving birth to twins, spends about three hours a week coloring, mostly at night, when her children are asleep and she can sit quietly in the kitchen of her Rockville home and gather her thoughts. (Her sons, Griffin and Eli, have their own coloring books.)

Now pastor at Bethesda United Church of Christ, Ledger approaches her hobby with a mix of pride and self-deprecating humor. “I’m not an artist,” she says as she spreads out her works on her bed. Some she keeps in a hardback binder, others in a small journal that fits in her purse. In a small office carved out of a second bedroom, her pencils and markers are neatly organized in plastic containers that once held Cascade detergent.

Ledger, 46, has colored her way not only through grief but also through physical pain. When she had back surgery a few years ago, she asked the doctors to make sure that the intravenous lines were in her right arm so that she could use her left, her coloring arm, as soon as she was awake. “I literally colored in the recovery room at the hospital,” she says.

Still, she understands that coloring is neither a panacea nor for everyone. “If someone was grieving, I wouldn’t just pay a visit on them and say, ‘You should color, and that would take your grief away,’ ” she explains. “I don’t believe that.” But coloring has given her a sense of power in a life that has spun wildly off plan.

“Being able to sit there and actually control that little world” inside a coloring book has been “really instrumental in my starting a new chapter of my life,” she says. “I don’t know if you ever fully heal from loss and trauma. But coloring has definitely helped me start a new life again.”


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Bust out the Crayons: This New Adult Coloring Book Wants to Send You to Sleep

Here is an article I was interviewed for at about my latest coloring book, "Color Me to Sleep," since this magazine focuses on sleep-oriented information.

It happened suddenly, didn’t it? One day we were staring at a rather unextraordinary bestseller list and the next we were seeing adult coloring books amongst the James Pattersons and Jojo Moyes’ of the world. Now, the eyebrow-raising pastime that launched 1,000 thinkpieces, is a full-blown movement that shows no signs of slowing — as of this writing, two of the top five bestsellers on Amazon are adult coloring books. You can work your Crayolas to nubs coloring everything from bible verses and sea creatures to many, many books about swear words, all in the name of stress relief.

Today, Lacy Mucklow and Angela Porter, the prolific duo behind such bestsellers as “Color Me Calm” and “Color Me Happy” have released “Color Me to Sleep,” the first such adult coloring book designed to help readers wind down and achieve a good night’s rest. We spoke to Mucklow, an art therapist, about the coloring trend and why, exactly, scratching out a picture of an owl might make someone sleep better.

Why do you think adult coloring books are having such a moment right now?

Coloring books for adults have been around for years on a small scale, but I think the coloring books started becoming really popular about a year or two ago. Apparently, the trend really started to swell in France, and then started spreading around the global market My theory is that we’re more digitally minded than ever. A few years ago, owning a smartphone wasn’t an expected fact of life. Coloring books (along with board games and puzzles) are popular right now because it’s an interactive activity that doesn’t require a screen. At the same time, social media makes it easy to share your finished work.

Coloring helps tune out the chatter of the day by focusing the mind on a single activity.

On top of that, coloring gives each person the freedom to be creative and escape the stressors of the everyday. We see the joy and excitement that children have when they color a book with cartoon characters that they love, and we tend to get away from doing things like that when we’re adults. I also think that adults are interested in the books because it is an effective and innovative way to bond with people across generations. People have told me that coloring books have connected them with other adults, their children and their own, older parents. It’s nice to be able to put your phone away and enjoy down time with a shared experience.

Courtesy of Quarto Publishing

How is this book different than other coloring books for calmness? What makes it sleep-focused?

The templates of “Color Me to Sleep” center on the things that exemplify a good sleep: comfortable beds, cozy linens, warm beverages and fireplaces, starry skies, hot baths and whimsical fantasies. This helps colorers visualize positive sleep experiences for themselves. The patterns and shapes encourage people create a restful space, and the images infuse that space with a sleepy mentality.

What types of shapes and patterns promote a restful calm mind?

When it comes to relaxing, one of the most useful designs is the mandala. Cultures around the world use the mandala to guide meditation, and they were popularized in the west by Carl Jung after he included them in his theory of symbols and drew a mandala every day himself. Mandalas are highly symmetrical and emphasize circles, so they allow for creativity but also provide the guidance that people need to get going. Patterns found in nature make people feel comfortable, because they’re familiar. The Fibonacci sequence, for instance, appears on everything from seashells to pinecones and sunflowers. Fractals patterns, which you can see on snowflakes and ferns, can induce a meditative state through their repetition.

The Mandala_Colormetosleep
The Mandala featured in "Color Me to Sleep", Courtesy of Quarto Publishing

How do you think performing an activity like coloring prepare someone to go to sleep?

Coloring helps tune out the chatter of the day by focusing the mind on a single activity. The repetitive motion and detailed designs help induce a meditative state for most adults and allows them to tune the world out for a little while as they focus. Coloring engages the amygdala, the “fight- or-flight” part of the brain, and gives it permission to let its guard down.

The patterns and shapes encourage people create a restful space, and the images infuse that space with a sleepy mentality.

Are there any particular colors you recommend using for a good night's sleep?

A person’s color choice can even affect their mood, and every color has its own “energy” that can calm someone down or excite them. Though it varies by culture, cooler colors tend to reduce energy, while warmer colors tend to increase energy. Bright colors tend to bring more intense feelings, while pastel or darker colors communicate softer energy. So for winding down for a good night's sleep, cooler, darker, and pastel colors are likely to be the most effective. However, the most important thing when coloring is to figure out which colors you find pleasant and soothing and then incorporate them into your palate.

Courtesy of Quarto Publishing

Did you design the templates to be monotonous, in hopes of lulling colorers to sleep?

The repetitive designs of a mandala can be lulling to some people, but we also include many scenic and representational pictures that show a variety of different designs. The idea of the book isn’t to bore people to the point of passing out, but to help them put aside their stressors and encourage thoughts of restfulness and comfort.

Would it be wise for parents to incorporate coloring into their child's bedtime routine?

This is absolutely something that can be incorporated into a nighttime routine with children. Though "Color Me to Sleep" in particular may be more advanced for some children to use themselves, parents can use it to color with their children in their own coloring books as to wind down for the evening together. Many children actually prefer to color before bed rather than hear a bedtime story. It is definitely a method worth exploring its effectiveness for a better night's sleep.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, March 24, 2016

How Coloring Can Help You Sleep Better

Here is an article by Alanna McGinn, a sleep consultant who also wrote the afterword in my book "Color Me to Sleep."  She discusses how coloring can help people sleep, and about good sleep hygiene in general.

Alanna McGinn Headshot
Pediatric and Adult Sleep Consultant

How Colouring Can Help You Sleep Better

             Posted: Updated:     

Colouring has always been a fun activity for children and recently adult colouring has become mom and dad's new pastime, especially at bedtime. Good Night Sleep Site has been a strong supporter of introducing adult colouring at bedtime to calm and quiet the mind, so when I was asked to write the afterword for the latest in Lacy Mucklow and Angela Porter's Color Me To series - Color Me To Sleep -- not only was I completely honoured but I couldn't think of a better match.

It can be hard to find an activity that can calm our minds and remove us from the chaos of our usual day. Colouring allows us to do this and it's also just so darn fun! Family colouring is a perfect addition to our #BringBackBedtime initiative and if colouring is a hobby you want to start but are having a difficult time fitting it into your day I'm here to tell you there is no better time than at bedtime.

Forget The Usual Story Time and Bring Out the Crayons
Are you tired of hearing the same response over and over again when you ask your child how their day was? "It was fine." "School was good." If you want to start opening the communication between you and your child start at bedtime and colouring will give you the perfect backdrop to ask those open ended questions that will strengthen the attachment that you want with your child. While we don't want to overlook the importance of literacy, exchange story time 2 nights a week with colouring. Mom or dad can grab their own colouring book and colour along side your little one and start talking. Ask the questions or create your own bedtime stories with the pictures you're colouring, and enjoy 30 minutes of quality time with one another.

Turn Off The TV and Sharpen Your Pencils
If you are struggling to fall asleep at night because your mind won't slow down, colouring during your bedtime routine is perfectly calming and a great way to practice mindfulness, which can aid in helping you fall asleep easier and stay asleep longer. Replace your tablet and remote control with your colouring book on your night table and incorporate this relaxing hobby during your bedtime routine. While this may not suit all partners, why not colour along side each other before you go to bed. It will encourage you to start going to bed at the same time each night and open communication between one another, which can be hard to do while you're in the throes of your usual day-to-day routine.

Can't Sleep? Get Out of Bed and Colour
An important step when treating insomnia with my clients is encouraging them to get out of bed when they are having difficulty falling back to sleep at night. Tossing and turning because you can't fall back to sleep when waking in the middle of the night is only going to heighten your anxiety and stress. It's okay to get out of bed for 15 to 30 minutes and then try again. What's important is to find the best activity when getting out of bed that can encourage the relaxing and calming environment you need to help you fall back to sleep. Checking your emails, surfing the internet, or watching TV can be replaced by simply colouring. It's best to set up your colouring station before you go to bed so that everything is prepared and waiting for you if you need it throughout the night.

Purchase Color Me To Sleep and receive 35% off using code COLORME35 here.

Follow Alanna McGinn at Good Night Sleep Site, Facebook, and Instagram for more family sleep tips.

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, August 07, 2015

Experts Warn Adult Coloring Books Are Not Art Therapy

As an art therapist and author of adult coloring books, I anticipated this subject being broached at some point, especially since some coloring books are titles with "Art Therapy" in their name.  Coloring most definitely has its benefits, in allowing people to de-stress and calm themselves in an easily accessible manner.  But as I have made clear in many interviews, coloring is good for everyday maintenance, but it is not clinical art therapy and is not a substitute for professional help when needed.


 Sarah Cascone, Friday, August 7, 2015

An adult coloring book. Photo: Passion for Pencils, YouTube screenshot.
An adult coloring book. 
Photo: Passion for Pencils, YouTube screenshot.

Experts are questioning the therapeutic benefits of adult coloring books, one of 2015's biggest and perhaps most-unexpected art trends, widely touted for its stress-relieving benefits.

According to Jo Kelly, president the Australian and New Zealand Arts Therapy Association, however, adult coloring books are no replacement for an in-the-flesh art therapist.

"An arts therapist is a qualified, trained individual who helps people and uses creative processes," insisted Kelly to ABC. She admits that by encouraging people to set time aside for their own enjoyment, adult coloring books have their benefits, "but to sort of suggest that it's a sort of creative art expression, you're actually using other people's designs—why not make your own?"

Color Me Stress Free. Photo: courtesy Race Point Publishing.
Color Me Stress Free. 
Photo: courtesy Race Point Publishing.

Publisher's Weekly traces the current popularity of coloring books for adults back to 2012, when Art-thérapie: 100 Coloriages anti-stress, by Hachette Pratique, was published in France. The first book to really hit the mainstream, however, was Johanna Basford's Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt & Coloring Book, currently Amazon's number one best-seller in self-help books.

The follow-up from the so-called "queen of coloring," Enchanted Forest, was released in February, and a third volume, Lost Ocean, is slated for an October release. Even fantasy author George R.R. Martin is getting in on the action, with plans to release a Game of Thrones coloring book.

"We've never seen a phenomenon like it in our thirty years of publishing. . . . Just can't keep them in print fast enough," Lesley O'Mara, the managing director Michael O'Mara Books, which has no less than 24 adult coloring book titles, told the New Yorker.

An illustration from Johanna Basford's Enchanted Forest. Photo: Johanna Basford.
An illustration from Johanna Basford's Enchanted Forest. 
Photo: Johanna Basford.

The San Jose Mercury News recently counted coloring books as part of an "ever-growing list of kid things co-opted by adults (video games, mini golf, Legos, Pez dispensers)," but adult coloring books are often marketed based on their therapeutic value.

There is Color Therapy: An Anti-Stress Coloring Book, and Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Patterns, Amazon's top seller in Graphic Design Color Use. The Zen Coloring Book series, which includes Color Me Happy and Color Me Calm, is actually authored by art therapist Lacy Mucklow, with art by Angela Porter.

"We imagined the books would appeal to adults looking to relax. But we never expected the responses we've received from people battling serious medical conditions," editorial director Jeannine Dillon told PW of the Zen series, which sold over 275,000 copies over just six months this year.

Susanne Fincher, art therapist and author of the Coloring Mandalas series, sees coloring books as a useful supplement to art therapy treatment. They "can empower a client to manage thoughts and feelings on their own with the positive activity of coloring, instead of, for example, overeating or abusing substances," she said to CNN.

Coloring a postcard by adult coloring book queen Johanna Basford. Photo: Susan Tripp Pollard, courtesy Bay Area News Group.
Coloring a postcard by adult coloring book queen Johanna Basford. 
Photo: Susan Tripp Pollard, courtesy Bay Area News Group.

The PTSD Survivors of America, in particular, have embraced the trend, hosting a nationwide "Color Across America for PTSD Awareness" event on August 2, National Coloring Book Day.

Erin Maynard, the organization's president, credits coloring books with counteracting the hyperactivity of the region of the brain called the amygdala, which controls the fear response. "Coloring actually reduces the activity of the amygdala, so that's part of the reason that it helps calm you down," she told the Lancaster Bee.

"Adult coloring is absolutely a growing trend and consumers are really taking to the idea," Matthew Lore, of the Experiment publishing group, which released The Mindfulness Colouring Book in January, said to CNN. "Not only is it calming and good for your health, it's just fun!"

But how much can coloring books really do for your mental well-being?

"It's a nice technique really that some art therapists sometimes use as a way to get started with someone, but art therapy is a lot more involved than that," Jane O'Sullivan, who runs the masters in mental health program at the University of Queensland warned ABC. "I think if someone was to say coloring-in books are art therapy, [that] is not accurate."

Follow artnet News on Facebook.

Labels: , , , ,