Coloring Book for Older Adults and Seniors is an innovation in the adult coloring world; allowing seniors and the visually impaired to feel included in coloring and create beautiful imagery. This book is a refreshing change of pace when we see more and more detailed images to color. The thick line work makes mistakes more forgivable while the simplicity of the designs leaves a lot to the imagination and allows you to create something unique to you.
I had the unique opportunity to talk with the creator of this book and pick his brain about his process and how he chose to take on the difficult task of catering to seniors. Al's personal experience in being an occupational therapist leaned a helping hand in creating an all-inclusive book that is both engaging and right for any skill level.
Al's OT focuses on creating coloring books for visually impaired adults and coloring books for senior citizens. Combining occupational therapy with coloring helps Al make new breakthroughs for senior citizens with cognitive impairment and gives elderly patients a new creative outlet.
CYT - What type of art training do you have, or were you self taught?
AL - I haven’t had any formal art training. My background is science and healthcare, but I’ve always been drawn to the arts. I find that it energizes and inspires me. Recently, I’ve started to play around with mid-century designs. I like the optimism and simplicity of mid-century designs. I’ve also been experimenting with installation art using a deck of cards: cutting the cards into different designs and attaching them to a canvas. This style is something I don’t see much, so I am trying to find my niche as I learn new techniques and strategies.
CYT - Who was the biggest influencer who helped move along through publishing your coloring book?
AL - My biggest influencer would be the writer-in-residence at my local library. The local library holds events and workshops. I had attended an event with my mother and stuck around to chat with the writer-in-residence. He’s a playwright and screenwriter. He’s been a really big help, and he’s always been supportive as I grow as an artist.
CYT - Who is your coloring book for?
AL - I would say my coloring book is primarily for older and adults and seniors. If you have difficulty holding a pen or pencil, or if your vision isn’t the best, or if your hand feels shaky when you color, then this book is appropriate. I also try to incorporate images which promote reminiscence, especially for people with memory impairment. My goal is that these images may help bring up happy memories and will provide moments of peace. I wanted to take a step back and make something simple yet enjoyable
CYT - When creating new designs to color, do you listen to music?
AL - Yes! I really enjoy lounge music and deep house music without lyrics. Although with all the advertisements on YouTube I’ve been searching for playlists on other platforms! I put the music on and find my creative space.
CYT - As an advocate for the visually impaired, how do you feel your book helps them feel included?
AL - I spent some time at the local bookstore looking for adult coloring books and noticed a trend towards more specific and nuanced themes, television shows, or sub-cultures. The designs are too detailed! When I created this coloring book, I wanted to take a step back and create something more inclusive, simple, and gratifying. Sometimes I feel authors of coloring books focus too much on the final product. I see potential to use coloring books as a means to encourage spending time with the people you value and listening to their stories (while not peeking at our phones!). The image I have in my mind is relatives and friends coloring together. This coloring book, I hope, will allow people with visual impairments to feel part of a community. I want them to feel empowered.
CYT - With your experience in being close to someone with dementia, how do you feel art helped them to connect with their world?
AL - I can only imagine how challenging it is for people with dementia. I look around at our society, and I would say even in the last five years, how our attention spans have been shortened. We’re glued to our phones, and we listen to 10-second news grabs. Simply put, we’re losing our presence as a society. This book, I hope, can help simplify life and encourage face to face interaction with our loved ones. My hope is, some of these images will help those with dementia re-live their happy moments and reignite passion about their past.
CYT - Do you have any upcoming projects or books your fans should be on the lookout for?
AL - Currently, this is all for coloring books! I am working on designing a lounge chair, and I also have a half-written screenplay set in a senior home, told from different perspectives – the senior citizens, the front line staff, and the administration. It’s on my computer…somewhere…
CYT - How does being an occupational therapist help you with your art, and with understanding the specialized needs of those who appreciate your art?
AL - As Occupational Therapists (OTs), we are strengths-based. Working in seniors home care, being an OT has encouraged me to listen and connect with the previous generation. Often, we’re involved in people’s lives when they are unwell and vulnerable. So as part of our training, we’ve learned the importance of listening to their stories, challenges, and goals. We strive to advocate for patients. Sometimes the best form of healing doesn’t come in a pill bottle, but rather simple activities –such as coloring. Art is a great way to promote mindfulness and bring out the best in people.
CYT - Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about you?
AL - Spend time with people you value. The only constant in life is change.