Some art educators and mom blogs are really against offering coloring books to kids.
They site coloring books inability to encourage creativity, their rigid outlines that tempt kids to "color inside the lines," and the way coloring books can discourage kids with perfectionist tendencies.
I hear what they're saying.
But, I say YES to coloring books, especially if they feature fine art. My kids have always preferred a blank piece of paper to a coloring book, but sometimes they reach for a coloring book... and when their coloring books include paintings by Frida Kahlo, Claude Monet, and Andy Warhol, I feel really good about it.
Coloring books don't have to be restrictive. You can transform them into an open ended art activity with a simple mindset shift.
The first thing to remember is: there is no "right" in art. Coloring inside the lines isn't better than passionate scribbles on the page that show dynamic energy and style of the young artist.
Kids can use their imagination with coloring books.
Encourage them to try things a different way... What would van Gogh's The Starry Night look like with a bright orange and yellow sunset sky? How else could they change some of history's most famous artworks to make them their own?
Or you could invite kids to think like the artist. Look through their eyes, and try to see why they made the choices they did with their composition. This is a really valuable exercise, and it's GREAT to work on observational skills. "Copying the Masters" is usually one of the first things you do in art school.
Getting up close and personal with the art like this helps children to internalize the artists individual style, and their famous artworks. The familiarity that comes from kinesthetic involvement (coloring directly on top of the artists design) is something that you can't get in a visit to the art museum where you aren't allowed to touch the paintings.
I have seen these kinds of coloring books in large chain bookstores, museum gift shops, and lots of stores online. There are so many options, you're sure to find something that your kids will love!
When coloring books are a supplement to an already rich creative environment, they can be a useful, fun, and valuable tool for those days when you want to do art but don't have time to prep a formal activity... and we all know there are plenty of days like that!
How do you incorporate coloring books in a creative way? Have you ever tried coloring books that include famous artworks? Come join our private Facebook group and let's chat!