We men like to think we’re not complicated creatures, but the fact is, we are. For as much as most of us like to keep things simple and easy, there’s a lot in our lives that’s not so easy. After all, we’re men. We’re expected to be the “Man of the House,” the “King of the Castle,” maintaining a stoic image at all times, rarely showing our softer sides. To maintain this image, we engage in “manly” pursuits such as hunting and fishing, football, basketball, and hockey, and other things like working on cars, wood, or in the garden.
It’s a sad fact that certain pastimes are seen as being more for women. If the groups on Facebook are anything to go by, coloring is one of them. While you might see or hear of a group of women getting together to have a coloring party, a group of men doing this is almost impossible to imagine. Sure, it’s easy to imagine a group of guys gathering around a grill, or in a sitting room to catch a big game, but if one of those guys gets out a page to color, he’s going to catch some interesting commentary from the other men.
However, given the proven benefits of coloring, I think there is some wisdom in re-examining the idea that only women should color. There is evidence which supports coloring as beneficial for one’s mental health. It allows one to concentrate on one thing, setting aside other stresses. It’s a quiet activity, and only requires a minimal amount of supplies or space.
Unfortunately, what’s out there to color seems mostly geared towards the female set. Sure, there’s the occasional book, but they’re often geared towards students, or some kind of pop culture icon which often sees as many women fans as men. The books I’ve seen for Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Game of Thrones come immediately to mind. There are some mandala coloring books which men might feel more comfortable with, and the idea of coloring patterns might strongly appeal to some. But what else is there?
If men are going to color, maybe it might be beneficial to have coloring books that contain more masculine images. A good friend of mine, who also colors, suggested things like cars, bacon, beer and whiskey, tanks and manly dogs. I think he’s on to something. Why not have coloring books that feature things like scenes from history? There’s a lot there that could be used. Or military machinery, famous battles, western scenes, race cars, or tranquil scenes of men hunting or fishing? How about books about the animals men spend their time chasing in the wild – deer and elk, moose, buffalo, trout and bass. Any one of these ideas would likely find a foothold in the men’s coloring market.
Additionally, what’s needed for more men to feel comfortable coloring is to remove the stigma that some activities are for men, and some for women. We need to encourage men to color by giving them a chance to see, and understand, its benefits. Provide us with images we want to color, and the tools with which to do it.
Having said this, let’s take a minute to look at what’s out there for the discerning male to color now? Surprisingly, there’s more than you might think, both from pop culture and subjects that men might find appealing.
Here are some ideas, ranging from simple designs to complicated ones. It also bears noting – subject matter can range from a G to an R rating. For the sake of this discussion, suggestions below are all G or PG:
- A Game of Thrones Coloring Book
- Harry Potter Coloring Books
- Art of Coloring Star Wars
- The Doctor Who Coloring Book (available February 23, 2106)
- Coloring Dragons
- American Muscle Cars 1960 – 1975
- Zen Doodle Coloring Books
- Color Your Own Classic Movie Posters
- CityScape Coloring Books
- Stained Glass Coloring Books
- Absur’d Series from Maniacal Confessions
Another area the male colorist might find daunting is trying to figure out what to use when coloring. Anyone who’s spent any time with the hobby can tell you, there’s a lot more out there than crayons. Just as a lady might feel a bit overwhelmed walking into a fly fishing shop and seeing all the varieties of flies, hooks, and tying materials, the same could be just as easily true for a man walking into the hobby store.
Besides the afore mentioned crayons, there are also markers (both broad and fine point), colored pencils, colored pens, gel pens, water color pencils, pastels… Some colorists even use things like eye liner and lipstick, which I’m sure comes as a surprise to many men. Then, once you have your coloring medium selected, there’s also tools used for shading and blending. The list goes on.
So, what to do? If a friend were to ask what I might recommend for a guy to start coloring, I’d suggest the following (budget permitting).
- Get two or three coloring books in subjects that appeal to you.
- A box of at least 48 colored pencils.
- A pencil sharpener of good quality (the kind that holds the shavings.)
If you really think the hobby might stick, then you might add:
- A package of colored pens or gel pens in the widest variety of colors you can afford.
- A package of markers – again, in the widest variety possible.
- A lap desk – if you prefer coloring while watching TV from the comfort of your easy chair.