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Coloring Book Magazine

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Publisher/Editorial Director

Wayne Bell

"Coloring the Big Picture"
Associate Publisher

Ken Rich

"Connecting the Dots"

Managing Editor

Cindy Kalachek

"Ready with the Red Pen"


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Erin Burson


Art Director/Web Design

Derek Munster

"Crafter of Pixels"

Coloring Book Magazine is owned by Really Big Coloring Books®, Inc.
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Summer - July '12 Archive

Grown Ups
Who says coloring is just for kids?  Learn about artists who seek inspiration from coloring books and non-profit organizations that utilize coloring in unique ways.  Advice from educators and industry experts will be featured as well.
Featured Artist
The Works of Henry Darger

Coloring books can be one of the earliest entries into the art world for children.  And for many, coloring books come to represent positive memories of childhood.  So it should not be surprising to discover the ways in which adult artists return to coloring books to further their artistic technique and explore thematic concepts.  In every issue of’s Magazine, we will showcase artists of exceptional talent who utilize or are influenced by coloring books in their creative expression.    

Days before his death in 1973, Henry Darger’s landlords entered his apartment and to their amazement, discovered the immense, extensive artwork and writings their tenant created in his forty-three years as an occupant in his second-floor apartment.  In addition to extensive writings (one fictional work alone totaled over 15,000 pages in length, single-spaced!), hundreds of watercolors, drawings and studies occupied the 900 square foot apartment located in Chicago’s North Side.  Recognizing the artistic merit of their tenant, landlords Nathan and Kiyoko Lerner assumed responsibility of Darger’s estate and introduced the world to this self-taught artist.  Today, Henry Darger’s work has achieved international notoriety and influenced several visual and performing artists.“Henry Darger adopted countless images from popular-media sources, such as newspapers, magazines, comics, and cartoons, but no single source influenced him as steadily as the coloring book,” commented Brooke Davis Anderson, curator at the American Folk Art Museum.


Darger’s human figures were achieved by continual tracing from books and rendering the desired size through simple photographic enlargements provided by the local drugstore photo department.  Tracing allowed for repetition of featured figures in his works.  Coloring book pages were also utilized in collage, combined with other found objects to achieve a new meaning and association for the design.  Finished compositions repeat the themes from his epic writings and events in his life.      


Darger has achieved unique status in the art world.  He remains one of the most popular names of arts in the community of self-taught artists, or “outsider artists” – those whose are skills are not achieved by academic training, nor are featured in commercial art galleries or established museums.  Additionally, Darger’s work is also highly regarded by the contemporary art world, including museums, and artists in a variety of genres.  “There is a long history of academically trained artists drawing inspiration from self-taught artists and thus freeing themselves to think in unexpected ways and on their own idiosyncratic terms, almost in defiance of what they were taught,” said Anderson. 


It should be no surprise that the list of museums presenting Darger’s work is just as unique as the artist himself.  The Intuit Museum of Intuitive and Outsider Art in Chicago created a permanent exhibit in which the visitor can truly step into Darger’s world.  Darger’s work environment – that intimate apartment – is recreated with materials from his studio.  According to the museum’s website, “Experiencing Darger’s personal environment through the installation will provide an important link to the man who struggled relentlessly throughout his life to give expression to the polarized spectrum of humanity. The archive and material represents a vital resource and the installation will enhance the understanding and appreciation of the art of Henry Darger by providing artists, scholars, and the public access to a unique and innovative archive of study materials.”


The American Folk Art Museum in New York City established the Henry Darger Study Centre to encourage further study into the life of this unique, mulit-disciplinary artist.  The collection contains thousands of items from Darger’s home – including watercolor paintings, tracings, source materials, correspondence and the extensive manuscript.  It is the largest public collection of Darger pieces in the world.  Modern artists have studied and utilized Darger’s art as inspiration and source material in their own works.  From paintings, collage, song lyrics, graphic novels, plays and even a documentary film, popular culture honors Henry Darger’s method for using everyday objects as a springboard into a deeper, imaginative realm. 


Museums featured in this article:


Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art

Established in 1991, Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art (Intuit) is the only nonprofit organization in the United States that is dedicated solely to presenting self-taught and outsider art.  Located in Chicago:


The American Folk Art Museum is devoted to the aesthetic appreciation of traditional folk art and creative expressions of contemporary self-taught artists from the United States and abroad. The museum preserves, conserves, and interprets a comprehensive collection of the highest quality, with objects dating from the eighteenth century to the present. Located in New York City.
Featured Organization
Color A Smile
Back in 1986, when Jerry Harris stepped into a friend’s kitchen, he noticed the cheerful crayon drawings that decorated the refrigerator door. This simple experience was truly profound as Jerry began thinking of a way to use children’s artwork to spread smiles. With the help from his family and other volunteers, Color A Smile was created in 1986 and every month since, crayon drawings have been collected and mailed. To date, over one million drawings have been collected, with an average of 5,000 drawings distributed on a monthly basis. The number of smiles generated from this project is infinite.


This intergenerational link is a great opportunity for children of all ages to experience the wonderful feeling that comes through volunteering and brightening someone’s day. Schools, scout troops, religious organizations, and service groups -- as well as individuals and families -- can gather their drawings and send them to Color A Smile, located in Morristown, New Jersey. There is no cost to submit or receive the drawings. Artwork is mailed to individuals and groups on the mailing list. Anyone can contact Color A Smile to add a name to the distribution list. Packages of several drawings per month are sent to administrators of group facilities such as nursing homes and assisted living homes. These drawings are displayed in common areas for everyone in the building to enjoy. The drawings are especially dear to those whose children and grandchildren have grown out of the coloring stage.


Children of any age can participate and many adults have also sent their drawings as well. And while Color A Smile initially began seeking submissions from children, the contributors now represent all ages. “Coloring is a great ice breaker, especially when people learn that their drawings will be used for a good cause,” explained Harris. From college orientations to corporate meetings, people begin talking and sharing as they recall positive memories about coloring while they are working on their drawings.


“We have grown in ways we never imagined,” commented Harris. With the assistance of the Internet, information spread exponentially about the organization, with artwork now coming in and going out throughout the country. Harris also recalled the wonderful surprises that have come about due to organization’s long-term presence. Because Color A Smile has existed for 26 years, some children truly have grown up with it, beginning as enthusiastic participants, and then leading efforts to collect artwork. The majority of thank you letters received are from teachers, troop leaders and adults who witness the meaningful experience of kids at a very young age doing something for someone else and thinking of others.


The organization is staffed by volunteers and while Color A Smile does not engage in soliciting, donations are always welcome to cover the costs involved in mailing the drawings.


For more information about Color A Smile, and ways you can participate, visit
Museum Happenings
Ava Gardner Museum

True Fans and Collectors For Life

The man behind it all is Thomas M. Banks of Pompano Beach, Florida, a former publicist for Columbia Pictures, who collected Ava memorabilia for over 50 years. It all began when Tom was a 12-year-old boy playing on the campus of Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College) in Wilson, NC where Ava was studying to become a secretary in 1940. Tom and his pals would “pick on” Ava and her classmates calling them their “girlfriends”. In retaliation, Ava chased Tom and caught him, and gave him a kiss.

Tom wondered about Ava when she did not return to school the next year. In the late summer of 1941, he saw her picture in the paper and learned she signed a movie contract with MGM. Tom was overwhelmed that he knew someone who had “gone to Hollywood.” His fascination began!

Whenever he read an article about Ava, he cut it out and saved it. Tom contacted Ava during his college days at William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA, and asked her to become the sweetheart of his college fraternity, Phi Kappa Tau. Ava accepted, and she sent autographed pictures to all the new pledges.

After graduating college, Tom headed to Hollywood (his graduation present to himself) and watched Ava on the set of Show Boat. After completing service in the US Navy and a brief career as a publicist for Columbia Pictures, Tom earned a PhD in psychology. In 1960, he married Lorraine, and they moved to Florida, where the couple worked for the Broward County School System.

Tom & Lorraine traveled the world collecting Ava memorabilia, and amassed an extensive collection. While visiting Ava in London in 1978, they discussed donating the collection to an institution such as Columbia University, but Ava suggested the collection belonged in her home state. The very next year, the first exhibit of the collection was held in downtown Smithfield.

Beginning of the Museum

In the early 1980s Dr. Banks purchased the house where Ava lived from age 2 to 13, and operated his own Ava Museum during the summers for nine years. Dr. Banks suffered a stroke at the museum in August of 1989 and died a few days later. Ava died 5 months later on January 25, 1990. In the summer of 1990, Mrs. Banks donated the collection to the Town of Smithfield, being assured that a permanent museum would be maintained in Johnston County, Ava's birthplace and final resting place.

The Ava Gardner Museum was incorporated in 1996 as a 501(c)3 organization to manage and care for the Museum's collection of personal items and movie memorabilia gifted to the Town of Smithfield by Tom and Lorraine Banks. Since that time the Ava Gardner Museum Foundation has continued to acquire artifacts related to Ava's life and is committed to preserving theses items and displaying them in an educational manner.

In August of 1999, the Museum’s board made an investment in downtown Smithfield by purchasing and renovating a 6,400 square foot building that became the permanent home for the Museum’s vast collection. In October 2000, the new Ava Gardner Museum opened its doors and has continued to draw national and even worldwide attention with approximately 12,000 visitors each year.

Casey Jones Museum
All aboard this historic museum that celebrates the iconic railroad hero, the grandeur of trains, and life in 1890s!
Casey Jones was a railroad engineer who became an internationally known hero on his last ride on April 30th, 1900 when he saved all the passengers on his train.  The Casey Jones Home and Railroad Museum, located in Jackson, Tennessee offers a visitors the opportunity to step back in time and learn more about this railroad hero and the significant role that trains played in shaping the surrounding area.


The newly built 8,000 square foot "Train Station", located right next to the home, has been re-created to look like an authentic train station from the 1890’s.   Artifacts from Jones and his fireman Sim Webb as well as from other Tennessee railroaders are displayed. Exhibits highlight the city’s railroad history and the importance of trains in the Civil War. With three authentic railcars in the collection, kids of all ages are welcome to climb aboard the engine and ring the bell.   The inviting reading nook and play area, (complete with train tables and Thomas the Tank trains) is a hit with kids.


For more information, visit

The Bright Side
Wedding and Coloring Books

Colorfully Ever After: Saying I Do to Coloring Books at Weddings

The summer season is the peak of wedding season and coloring books provide a playfully creative way to add a fun and memorable touch to the celebratory day. Wedding websites and blogs like and are chock full of brides sharing their stories. Custom made coloring books can present the story of the bride and groom in new and different way. With the help of photo software, you can transform pictures of the bride and groom into black and white drawings. And don’t forget the games, puzzles and activities: crosswords, connect-the-dots, mazes and word jumbles can feature fun facts about the couple. Added details like crayons in the shape of hearts will enhance the thoughtfulness behind this keepsake.


Even if a tailored coloring book doesn’t synch with your overall wedding theme, coloring books are a great way to occupy kids at the ceremony and reception. A special tote bag filled with activity books, stickers and crayons can help keep the young ring bearer and flower girl entertained as they embark upon a very long day. At the reception, the kids’ table can easily be transformed into a center of entertainment and fun as it is stocked with crafty materials and coloring books. A paper tablecloth presents a great canvas for doodles. Their parents will be appreciative, too!


To truly bring out the youthful spirit in your guests, offer coloring books at their tables, too. Pages of wildflowers and butterflies can make fitting accompaniments to an outdoor wedding. Even designating a place for adults to color can be a great ice-breaker for guests who may be a bit shy to hit the dance floor.


Have you attended a wedding or other celebration that used coloring books in a creative way? Share your story with us.

Coloring as Meditation

By Heidi Spear

Meditation can be your key to a more balanced and easeful life. Although there are many ways to meditate, the purpose is always the same: to strengthen your connection to the present moment, and to help you disengage from the effects of stressful thought patterns. Meditation is a time-tested, all-natural way to deal with life’s challenges while experiencing a peaceful heart and mind.


What might seem like a paradox is that in order to be able to handle what comes up in life with more ease, one must take breaks from planning, scheduling, and making lists. Take time to relax and come into the present moment, where there is joy, freedom, and an abundance of possibility and color.


Coloring is meditation when you allow yourself to be in the present moment and not get tangled up in uncomfortable thought patterns. To do this, appreciate what you are doing moment by moment: notice the creative images in the designs you’ve chosen; notice the texture of the crayons, pastels, or colored pencils you have on hand. Notice the beautiful shades you have at your fingertips, and allow the experience to unfold as it will. Notice that you’re doing an activity that inherently has no stress --- nothing for you to produce, no one for you to impress, nothing for you to become.

As you color, if you notice yourself spinning into a stressful thought pattern about anything (related to coloring or not), breathe and allow that thought pattern to float away. Return your attention to coloring, allowing yourself to put colors to the page in any way you want, with no judgment, no attachment to the outcome, and no need to reach a goal. Allow there to be no rules because there’s nothing to judge. Invite yourself to relax in the knowledge that this type of meditation is fun, good for the whole family, and healing for mind, body, and spirit.

Chakra Healing and Coloring


“Chakra” means wheel or disc, and in the tradition of yoga, it refers to the wheels of energy in the body. When you receive acupuncture, practice tai chi, or take yoga classes you are helping energy flow more freely in the body, and you are supporting the chakras in doing their job. Chakras are located throughout the body. When they are in balance, they spin freely, transferring energy to support your physical, mental, and spiritual functions.
When the chakras are not spinning well, energy becomes stagnant and doesn’t travel to where it needs to go to fully support you. Unblocking the chakras helps energy flow freely: enhancing mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.


To balance the chakras by coloring, choose colors that support the chakras you need to unblock. There are particular colors associated with balancing each of the seven major chakras. These seven major chakras run along the largest energy channel of the body --- which is located in the spine --- and they affect important physical, mental, and spiritual functions.


Using more of a certain color, regardless of what design you are drawing, may help you focus on that specific energy center. So, use all the colors you want to for your creative expression, and be sure to focus a little extra on certain ones you need for more balance.


When you are able to balance the chakras, you are able to create peace, ease, and balance in your life. With more understanding of how they work, you are able to create exactly the life you want to be living. You begin to notice how you can affect the path your life takes, and you can bring health and healing to yourself and others…especially by coloring with them.

Here is a brief summary of the some of the basic attributes of each chakra:

Name of Chakra



Color Association


(base of spine)

Contentment with your basic needs for survival (food, shelter, clothing)



(lower abdomen)

Creativity, pleasure


Solar Plexus


Will power, self-esteem



(center of chest)




(in the throat)




(between eyes, just above eyebrows)




(top of head)

Peace, bliss

purple and gold

Heidi E. Spear is the author of The Everything Guide to Chakra Healing and co-author of 5-Minute Mindfulness: Simple Daily Shortcuts to Transform Your Life. For more information, visit:

Interactive coloring fun!  Word search, quiz, tips from artists and of course, coloring book pages to download.

How to draw a...
Get step by step tips for learning how to draw objects from professional illustrators. After you master drawing items, perhaps you will want to create your own coloring book! More info...
Word Search
Take a break from all that reading and relax with a word search puzzle.
Click here to download a PDF of the puzzle.
Color Quiz
Test your knowledge of the names of colors.
Click here to download a PDF of the game.
Free Downloadable Coloring Page offers free downloadable pages for you to print off and color.
Click here to download a PDF of the page.
Real Artist-Joy Baer

Painting is a form of communication. Before people could read or write, artists used paintings to share a story.


My name is Joy Baer and I am an artist who specializes in telling stories through frescos.

Fresco is the Italian word for "fresh", and that's because artists create fresco painting with fresh, natural materials, water and plaster. In ancient days, a mortar and pestle were used to grind colorful, earth minerals and rocks into a fine powder. Then water is added to create fresh paint. The oldest frescoes we know of come from 1600 BC.


When I was nine years old, I was inspired by an article on Pompeii, Italy in a National Geographic Magazine. Did you know that in 79 A.D., the volcano Mount Vesuvius erupted, burying the town in volcanic ash? The city, objects and frescoes were preserved and discovered 1700 years later! Today, I teach fresco workshops in the excavations in Pompeii. I paint to communicate the lost language of symbolism, codes and signs found in the frescoes at Pompeii. My frescoes convey a feeling of hope, something you can’t see, but you can feel.


Have you seen a picture or read an article about a far-away place that inspires you, too?   What is it about that place that interests you? Now it’s your turn! Go and draw your own pictures of this amazing place. Be sure to put yourself in the picture, too!

Passing with Flying Colors

Success Stories

My Glass Bottom Boat Ride Coloring Book
Eric Styles

Perhaps one of the most interesting and relaxing experiences in Ocala, Florida can be found aboard the Silver River Spirit, a glass bottom boat that amazes and educates passengers as they cruise down the Silver River. The primary focus of Glass Bottom Boat Tour Inc. is to provide free, glass bottom boat rides for everyone, especially those who may not have the financial means to do so. “We are not running a business here, we’re just bringing friends along on our river adventures,” explained Eric Stiles, Director and Senior Captain. As a non-profit charity, the business utilizes coloring books as a way to bring in additional revenue.


The coloring book captures the array of animals -- turtles, birds of all kinds, alligators, fish in a range of shapes and sizes, and even monkeys – that might be seen during an excursion. Detailed pictures of flora also adorn the pages. “We give them as gifts to kids who ride our boat. Customers love them,” commented Stiles. The book continues to educate and promote environmental awareness of Florida’s natural resources long after the boat ride is over.


For more information, visit
Importance of a Good Cover

by Ghislain Viau

Books might or might not be judged by their cover but a good cover will attract the interest of a potential reader and communicate something. Your cover must attract the potential reader by creating an emotional impact which will communicate something  to him or her.  Once you've gotten that, then the back cover will need to maintain that interest, and then the first few pages of the book. That’s how good a cover has to be.  Take a look at the books on your shelves, what grabs you – or doesn’t ?

Bringing it Together

Here's a project for kids and adults to do together.

Cooking – creating a recipe of a family favorite

Grandma’s chicken soup, Uncle Al’s spicy barbeque sauce, Aunt Helen’s famous lemon cake – in every family, there is a beloved dish that, for some reason or another, may lack a written recipe.  Perhaps we just know how to make it, bake it or cook it from experience and years of fine-tuning and experimenting with different pinches, dashes and dollops of “secret” ingredients. 


For this activity, the child/children in the family think about the special dishes their relatives make.  They will cook together and work together to get the recipe written down so that later generations will enjoy the treasured recipe. 


Materials: ingredients and tools needed for cooking; paper, crayons or markers


Step 1:  Before cooking, take out all of the ingredients and tools.  Write them down, and if the child is too young, encourage the child to draw them. 


Step 2:  Cook the dish together, discussing the procedure, writing down the steps and  measurements whenever possible.


Step 3: After cooking, sit down together and discuss the process involved.  Write them down together and draw pictures of the steps involved.  This will help the child to remember.  You can even add commentary like, “This part was my favorite,” or “Be careful when you crack the eggs!” 


Step 4:  Your special recipe book is almost finished!  Decide on the best way to bind your recipe book.  Consider bringing the pages to a local copy shop or scan them into a computer and send additional copies of the recipe with illustrations to family members.  Make a great gift and a wonderful present at a family reunion.

Spending Time with Grandfather

Antoinette Harrell, a renowned genealogist, created a way for children to begin learning about their family history.  Spending Time with Grandfather: A Coloring and Activity Book provides pages of coloring, games and informational questionnaires for both grandfather and children to complete.  Here’s a great way to spark conversation between the generations.      


Antoinette Harrell is the producer and host of an Educational Television Program, entitled Nurturing Our Roots. A renowned genealogist for the past sixteen years. She is the author of Nurturing My Family Tree & Coloring and Activity Book for children & A Genealogy Field Trip With Grandmother. Antoinette Harrell also co-founded a genealogy camp for children in New Orleans, LA. The camp and campers received national and international attention for their programs in outstanding family research.


Her work in the study of genealogy has been recognized by People Magazine, Nightline News and many other media publications, national and international. In 2007 she had the state of Louisiana to proclaim October as Family History Month.