Blue Point artist inks deal to create adult coloring books



There’s an adult coloring craze that’s sweeping the nation. 

And the Greater Patchogue area is no exception.

Blue Point artist Pam Varacek has just inked a deal with a major publisher to create two coloring books, the first of which will likely hit store shelves later this year. The big news came recently, and not too long after she started hosting coloring nights at local restaurants and libraries across Suffolk County.

One of her coloring nights at the Grey Horse Tavern in Bayport was even the subject of a broadcast feature that aired on Verizon FiOS1 News.

“Coloring is so big right now I wanted to come up with a way to make it into a class,” Varacek said of the coloring nights, which she started hosting about six months ago. “Everyone gets 10 pages of my artwork, they have a couple drinks while they’re coloring and it’s relaxed and social.”

What’s also nice is how low the stakes are.

“With paint nights, you basically have to follow step-by-step because everyone’s doing the same thing and the teacher is up front giving instructions,” she added. “With this I just give five minutes of suggestions. And if you mess up, big deal, it’s a piece of paper.”

Varacek, who’s coloring pages are variations of existing artwork, much of which gets licensed out for commercial use on products found in stores, said social media helped facilitate her fledgling career as a coloring book author.

She said an agent who lives in Blue Point had taken notice of her work on Facebook, and it was the agent who worked out the publishing deal. 

(At Varaceks’ request, agreed to not yet print the name of the publishing house.)

As for the fad of adult coloring, many bloggers and artists feel it’s not a fad at all, but something that will soon be part of people’s everyday lives as they seek ever-elusive ways to relax and unwind. 

The coloring books even have their own category page on Amazon.

The phenomenon is widely attributed to illustrator Johanna Basford’s adult coloring book called Secret Garden, published in 2013. That and her other books that follow feature intricate patterns and creatures, both real and imagined, to challenge any colorer with a steady hand.

But Varacek says there’s a lot of low-quality books on the shelves as well. And she’s putting the time in to ensure her books stand out from the rest. 

It takes her anywhere from three to six hours to design a page. She has to make 50 pages for each book.

“It’s really time consuming,” she said. “But I like the idea of each page looking really different.”

Her first book will focus on nature, and the pages of both will take the form of what’s called zentangles.

“It’s really just a fancy word for doodling,” she said.

Additional reading: A neuroscientist patiently explains the allure of the adult coloring book

Want to color?

Varacek’s next local adult coloring night is Tuesday, Jan. 19, at Grey Horse Tavern, from 7 to 9 p.m. The class is $15 and it’s open to the public, though space is limited.

There’s another class in the area on Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. at Bayport-Blue Point Library. Contact the library for additional details. 

You can also follow her Facebook page for upcoming events.

Photo: Pam Varacek at work Tuesday in her Blue Point studio. (Michael White)