A Coloring Book Turns Readers Into Artists

The team behind the beloved and critically-acclaimed art book, Painting for Peace in Ferguson, has taken another step in its efforts to inspire hope in the region and throughout the world. And this time, it’s transformed the work of St. Louis artists into a coloring book so fans can creatively contribute to their expressions of love and healing.

Launched in 2015, Painting for Peace is an eye-catching collection of the murals and messages that graced the boarded-up buildings in Ferguson and South Grand after the 2014 riots. The spirit of community resonated with readers – Painting for Peace sold more than 3,000 copies nationwide, won an “Outstanding Book of the Year” from the Independent Publisher Book Awards, and was selected to represent Missouri at the Library of Congress Book Festival.

“We had an enthusiastic response from the public both locally and across the country because I think people appreciate the authenticity of the moment and because the artwork itself is beautiful, thought- provoking and draws you in,” explained author Carol Swartout Klein.

“Parents and teachers both appreciate the book as a way to begin the conversation with young children, but we’ve also had a lot of folks buy the book for their office and just as a reminder of all the people in our community trying to make the world a better place.”

Crayons for change

On May 24th, Klein and illustrator Robert O’Neil will release the new Painting for Peace: A Coloring Book, allowing kids and adults alike to bring their own artistic flair to the street art featured in Painting for Peace.

At each Painting for Peace event, Klein regularly had coloring sheets on hand for kids. But she soon noticed fans of all ages were taking them home to enjoy, especially as the adult coloring trend began taking off the past year. A coloring book was the logical next step to continue the Painting for Peace mission and bring the message to even more people.

The 52-page coloring book, published by Treehouse Publishing Group, features outlines of many of the designs from the original book as well as new illustrations, from simple drawings the littlest artist can master to intricate, complex designs that offer a cathartic release for adults. With input from coloring fans, Klein ensured the book used high-quality paper for all types of media and was bound to lay flat, making it easy for both righties and lefties to color.

“I think coloring really draws you in and allows you to participate in the artwork in a way that is different from just seeing a picture. And what’s been fun to see as the coloring phenomenon has grown is that it can be both a solitary experience as well as a shared one – either within a family or among friends – like the huge response that the St. Louis Coloring Club has been getting at their gatherings each month.”

In addition, the coloring book features behind-the-scenes stories from the artists to spark a discussion between family members as their colorful creatively flows through the pages.

Said Klein, “I hope this continues the goals of Painting for Peace in Ferguson — to provide a gentle catalyst for conversation between children and adults about the issues facing our community and a vision of the remarkable things that can happen when we reach out to each other. I also felt it was important to incorporate some of the stories behind the art and why the artists chose to get involved in the original effort to help by painting art in Ferguson. I found their stories touching, powerful and sometimes funny, and hope that the reader will, too.”

Painting for Peace: A Coloring Book retails for $9.95 and will be available on Amazon and in retailers across the U.S. on May 24. Profits from the book will be donated to youth organizations and small businesses in North County. For a sneak peek, check the book out now at www.paintingforpeacebook.com.

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Metro East mom Nicole Plegge has written for STL Parent for more than 12 years. Besides working as a freelance writer & public relations specialist, and raising two daughters and a husband, Nicole's greatest achievements are finding her misplaced car keys each day and managing to leave the house in a stain-free shirt. Her biggest regret is never being accepted to the Eastland School for Girls. Follow Nicole on Twitter @STLWriterinIL 

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