Most adult coloring books earn the descriptor via complexity that requires fine motor skill and patience most youngster lack, but a new coloring book co-created by a Juneau artist earns the adjective by way of its subject matter, too.
“When a Woman Loves a Man: A Coloring Book for Lovers” eschews geometric designs and fractal patterns for artful depictions of people expressing their love in both safe-for-work and decidedly not-safe-for-work fashions.
“It’s very sex-positive without being exploitative,” said Erika Stone, who wrote couplet-like captions for the book’s images and created the scenarios depicted. “The project is about joy and love and intimacy.”
The coloring book, which features illustrations from Stone’s mother, artist J. Susan Cole Stone; includes 20 sets of images for people to color. The first in each set is generally a relatively chaste depiction of romantic love. The second drawing in each set depicts the same characters, but typically features less clothing and more intimate positioning.
“There’s two pictures per scenario, one that’s sweet and one that’s a little spicy, a little dirty,” Stone said.
While the content is racy, it’s not especially explicit. There’s less anatomy on display than one would catch watching a prestige drama on a paid cable channel, but it is intentionally risquè.
The boosome design work courtesy of Stone’s longtime friend John Patsfield, and color for its cover came from Juneau’s Richard Carter.
“It was nice to be able to hire a local artist and also a friend that I knew,” Stone said. “And hopefully there will be more of that moving forward.”
There are plans for more coloring books in a similar vein, Stone said. While “When a Woman Loves a Man” depicts an intentionally diverse collection of heterosexual couplings, Stone said she hopes it will be followed by even more inclusive installments depicting non-heterosexual love.
“It’s important to me that everyone is represented,” Stone said.
The idea that began the project came to Stone while she was on the East Coast acting in a play with American Repertory Theater.
She said while away from Juneau she sent her husband playful, sing-song messages,and those served as a bit of inspiration for the rhyming captions featured in “When a Woman Loves a Man.” But the light bulb moment that spawned the project came during a post-show conversation with her mom.
“It was the first time my mom’s been able to seem me perform,” Stone said. “Afterward, we were having a nosh and a glass of wine together and somehow it occurred to me.”
The project was already in motion even before the pandemic led to people having more time to stay inside and color, Stone said, and her goal was to have the book available in time for the holiday season. The goal was met when the book was launched Dec. 2 on Amazon.
Stone credited her mom, who she called a “wonderful artist,” with meeting the relatively tight deadline.
She said while there’s been some moment’s that made her say “I never really thought I’d be having this conversation with my mother,” she’s been glad to tackle the project with a family member. It’s doubled as an unlikely bonding experience, too.
“At the end of the day, I really wanted to work with her on this project because I love her art,” Stone said. “I don’t think I would’ve got the same thing from anywhere else.”
• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.