Getting Medieval With Coloring Books

Adult-coloring-bookColoring isn’t just for kids anymore. It’s become the latest hot pastime for adults, and there are studies that suggest it’s good for relaxation and relieving stress.

Of course, children still are the primary colorers. But, a new type of coloring book brings grownups into the mix as well — so coloring can truly become a whole-family activity.

Some of the books available use art and designs of various kinds, from fractals to mandalas. But as Catholics, we have one of the richest and most brilliantly hued artistic legacies — especially with medieval art.

We tend to think of medieval times in terms of gray stone Gothic churches and monks in brown habits, but as a recent piece in ChurchPop showed, medieval cathedrals used to be painted in near-psychedelic colors. We also have tapestries, icons, illuminated manuscripts and stained-glass windows, all of which can be found in coloring books (click the links above for examples).

There are even rosary coloring books.

Just last week, as a part of the #ColorOurCollections event, several museums made images from the collections — including medieval Catholic ones — available as PDFs you can download for free (this link includes links to a whole bunch of them).

Whether you’re using colored pencils, markers, pastels or watercolors, coloring can be a solitary activity or — if your pages are large enough — even a cooperative venture. I’ve even thought that coloring parties could be fun, with buckets of pencils or crayons, and people working on many different pages at once.

The image at top is from the first coloring page I did (it’s from this book) — and I have a confession to make. I believe it depicts the Wedding Feast at Cana, and that figure to the far right, despite not having a beard, is supposed to be Jesus.

I could be wrong about that, but if it is, I didn’t realize it until after I was finished. So allow me to apologize for kinda coloring Him like a girl. Sorry.

Image: Kate O’Hare

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  • Joseph Cella

    This is en flammis! A great article about great things. So enculturating. And salve for the culture than lives in such a demythologized state. We homeschool our children and they will devour these coloring books once they arrive. Thank you for the great recommendation! And for my sister in law, coloring with her nieces and nephews is a relaxant and I will be getting her some of the books for her birthday!