Adult coloring craze still going strong in Atlanta

The adult coloring craze picked up steam last year and it is still going strong in Atlanta as a method of stress relief and creating community.

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Locally, there are groups that meet up for coloring events as well as coloring events in public spaces. On April 27, Atlantic Station's Colorful in the Park took place from 11a.m. - 1 p.m. offering lunchtime coloring with free colored pencils and one of three coloring sheets designed by local artist  Preston Attebery . Restaurants offered boxed lunches available and local musician  Kara Claudy performed live.

Last spring, coloring books were the top sellers on Amazon, which prompted bookseller Barnes & Noble to launch a series of in-store coloring events and begin pushing their collection of adult coloring books.

Crayola also got in on the action late last year releasing Color Escapes -- a premium coloring kit for adults with coloring pages, as well as colored pencils and markers designed for adult coloring since crayons do not offer the precision needed.

In March, Faber-Castell, the largest wooden colored pencil supplier in the world, had to add more shifts to their factories to keep up with the demand for colored pencils which have seen double-digit sales growth. Part of the new demand is fueled by adults who want pencil boxes with 72 to 120 different shades, said company representatives.

Sales of adult coloring books at book stores and big box stores has increased by about 300 percent in just the past year, making the market large enough for segmentation with

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Even superstar Justin Bieber got in on the trend earlier this month posting an image of a partially dressed girl that he colored .

Bieber, who was in town for concerts at Philips Arena, said it was an accomplishment that he actually sat still for 30 minutes to color the image.

Here is a video of the singer browsing through the selection of coloring books at Barnes & Noble on the campus of Georgia Tech:

Experts have said coloring is a great stress reliever for adults, particularly mandalas -- round frames with geometric patterns. Focusing on filling in intricate patterns with precision is similar to meditation, they say, by allowing your mind to rest. It is a good option for those who may not be comfortable with other creative arts as it removes the anxiety of having to design something from nothing.

Last summer, TeMika Grooms of Lithonia, founded an  Atlanta meetup for coloring adultsThe 41-year-old artist, who writes children's books , said she was inspired by the response she had gotten from a coloring activity she held during a previous event.

"We are so dominated by social media, I decided to bring people together to do something so basic as coloring. A lot of people had products, but were doing it at home by themselves. It was relaxing, but making it a social event…gives the opportunity to connect with people again," she said.

The first events were small -- maybe 5-10 people. For the most recent event, held earlier this year, about 250 people showed up at the door of Hodge Podge Coffeehouse and Gallery. She had to turn people away because the space could only hold 50.

"People are coming because they need that social aspect," said Grooms.  The adults at her events have been 55 and younger. While most are women, they a diverse group, economically and socially and come from as far OTP as Alpharetta and Lawrenceville. Some showed up with Care Bears coloring books and others had the more detailed books designed for adults.

"It brings people together who otherwise may not have a conversation," said Grooms who is hosting upcoming events on May 21 at Sam Flax South (1745 Peachtree St NE , Atlanta).

The group will meet for a BYOP (bring your own pencils) adult coloring party, in the late afternoon, while more artistic types may prefer the earlier session -- a workshop that teaches attendees to use paper, pencils, markers, ink pens and some digital resources to create a coloring book of their own.

While many coloring adults like to socialize, sometimes it is just about the coloring.

Grooms has been caring for her mother who has cancer and sometimes would arrive at coloring sessions filled with stress. "Sitting there and coloring just brings that emotional level down," she said.

It also helps that it is a relatively inexpensive activity and if it looks great you keep it. If it looks bad, you can just throw it way.

"It isn’t going to heal all of your problems, it's not therapy, but it does help,” Grooms said.