Adult colouring books popular on Prince Edward Island

Sally Cole
Published on February 6, 2016

New colouring books on sale from Island artists Renée Laprise, Ambika Gail Rutherford, Nadine Staaf

When Anne Putnam went to Mexico for the first time to teach, she found herself in a difficult situation.

“I thought that I was going to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) to high school kids,” says the Charlottetown resident, recalling her trip to the southern country in 2013.

Shortly after arriving, Putnam learned that she had been placed to teach Grade 3 and 4 English curricula in a private school.

“I’m not an elementary school teacher. It’s not what I’m trained to do,” says the adult ESL teacher, who took on the huge challenge.

The weight of responsibility grew even heavier when two students in her classes became unruly.

“They drove me crazy. Because it was a private school, I wasn’t allowed to discipline them.”

Living in Mexico, during the hottest months of the year, there was no place to escape the stress or the heat.

“On top of everything I got prickly heat rash.”

Then one day a teacher at the school showed her some mandalas, beautifully designed pen and ink drawings, she was giving students to colour to calm them down in her class. Soon students were bringing their colouring books to school so Putnam could see their work. They also photocopied pages for her.

Looking for respite from her misery, Putnam decided to try them.

“By the end of each day my shoulders were up around my ears from the stress. So, each night, when I got home I would turn on the fan in the apartment and I’d colour until my shoulders came back down.”

Surprisingly the exercise had positive results.

“Colouring really, really calmed me down. It really worked.”

Putnam is one of the many people discovering the joys of colouring.

Renée Laprise also finds great comfort in getting out pencil crayons and colouring between the lines.

“Colouring for adults is like knitting, where you get to do something creative but you don’t have to think too hard about it. It’s very calming. Then, when you’re finished you step away from it and you have this beautiful piece which gives you a sense of accomplishment,” says the P.E.I. artist and filmmaker.

In fact, Laprise enjoys colouring so much she has created “Natural Prince Edward Island”, a colouring book of her own.

Filled with the flora and fauna of Canada’s smallest province, it’s designed so that when the 16 pages are placed together, they become a giant poster.

“After designing it, I sat down and coloured it.”

Ambika Gail Rutherford is one of the latest P.E.I. artists to design and publish her own colouring book. Entitled “Sea Changes” it’s filled with seaside images from the Maritimes and Ibiza, a Spanish island in the Mediterranean.

Rutherford decided to create her own after seeing a colouring book that another person had done and realized she could do the same with her own pen and ink drawings.

“I’ve always loved to draw and I’ve always done ink and colourwash drawings so it was only natural that I take another step. I’m having fun with it,” says Rutherford, with a bright smile.

These artists are following in the footsteps of Nadine Staaf of Meadow Bank who published her first adult colouring book series, “Feel Good Colouring” in July 2014.

Reaction to her work has been positive.

“The people on Prince Edward Island have been very supportive and have genuinely wanted to help me get the word out about my books,” Staaf says.

With more people knowing about her books, she’s had several requests from people asking her to create colouring books for their businesses/charities. Although not able to take on all the projects, she’s currently working on a colouring book which will be ready this summer.

“It’s a nice feeling.”


Getting in touch

- Ambika Gail Rutherford’s book, “Sea Changes”, is available at The Bookmark and Indigo, Charlottetown, as well as in seasonal gift shops this summer.

-  Nadine Staaf’s “Feel Good Colouring” book is available at The Bookmark and Indigo in Charlottetown. It’s also at Amazon for online shoppers.

- Renée Laprise’s colouring book, “Natural Prince Edward Island”, is available through her website