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Coloring club for adults encourages relaxation and artistry

Myra Rahe still remembers one of the best birthday presents she ever received as a kid — a box of 64 crayons and a dollar bill.

Rahe, 66, used that dollar to buy a coloring book, which she shaded and scribbled in with her birthday crayons to escape childhood stress, she said.

“It was a diversion, a de-stressor,” Rahe said.

In 2015, she officially began the 50 Shades of Coloring club to provide other Orange County residents with the same stress-free zone.

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Rahe, an Orange resident, said the idea for the club sparked after watching a news segment about a coloring club for adults on the East Coast where members casually met up in restaurants.

“I thought, ‘What a great idea’ because we all colored as kids,” Rahe said. “It’s a relaxing and therapeutic thing. Then I did some research and discovered that there were no coloring groups here in Orange County.”

After hearing about Meetup.com, where people can meet others with various interests, Rahe decided to post information online about 50 Shades of Coloring’s first events. She remembers getting around 50 responses in one day.

Kim Flanegin displays some of her finished pieces at a recent 50 Shades of Coloring club meeting.
Kim Flanegin displays some of her finished pieces at a recent 50 Shades of Coloring club meeting.
(Photo by Spencer Grant)

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Meetup had spurred the interest of many longtime members who attended last month’s meeting at Fuddruckers restaurant in Lake Forest.

“I’ve been coming for a year and a half, and I try to be here each month,” said Laguna Hills resident Christina Law. “It’s not just bringing a coloring book and sitting down. There’s a lot of crafts we do, and people of all ages can enjoy it.”

At last month’s meeting, Rahe laid out blank luggage tags, bookmarks, note cards, pages with intricate images and paper for other crafts for people to draw on.

Curious onlookers at the restaurant peeked in on the meeting to scan the vibrant magnets and rock paperweights that had been embellished with colored paper.

As club members began to file into Fuddruckers, they took their seats at the tables laden with clipboards, boxes of crayons, tin cans with gel pens and caddies with markers and colored pencils.

“There’s no right or wrong way to do it,” Laguna Woods resident Peggy Henschel said as she colored a card. “It’s fun to keep learning new tricks here.”

Rahe showed members a new technique during the meeting using crayons and baby oil.

Laguna Niguel resident Diane Lindsey, who enjoys designing period costumes and coloring fashion drawings, pressed a blue crayon onto a paper with a dress and used a cotton swab dipped in baby oil to soften the color.

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As Lindsey stroked the swab over the dress, the jagged crayon markings on the page began to look like a watercolor painting.

“Things like this really help me think about color and gives me ideas [for costumes],” Lindsey said. “Myra is always researching different techniques for us to do. She is a woman with a heart of gold.”

Each week, Rahe takes the coloring activities beyond the restaurant meetings and into the Kaiser Permanente Infusion Centers in Anaheim and Irvine, where she brings bookmarks and tags for patients to color.

“It’s an inspiration for me to see what everyone gets out of it and the creativity they didn’t think they had,” Rahe said. “It’s brought people to an environment where they don’t have to have talent to enjoy themselves. Coloring has given them an opportunity to be calm and take their minds off whatever is going on.”

So far, the club has held coloring meetings at restaurants in Tustin, Santa Ana and Lake Forest.

Each meeting has a $10 admission, and the fee is put toward coloring supplies.

The club will embark on its first getaway trip in Big Bear Lake Sept. 29 through Oct. 1 for a weekend of coloring, crafts, games and a chance to learn a drawing method called Zentangle.

It’ll be one way in which members can celebrate a milestone for 50 Shades of Coloring next month — its second birthday.

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For more information about the 50 Shades of Coloring club and its upcoming trip, visit 50shadesofcoloring.com.

Alexandra.Chan@latimes.com

Twitter: @AlexandraChan10


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