May is National Preservation Month, a fitting time for a new book devoted to Boulder’s colorful history and diverse architecture. But there’s a twist. As KGNU’s Roz Brown reports, this time it’s a “coloring” book that features many of the city’s buildings dating back to when Boulder was founded in 1859.
“Coloring books seem to create a sort-of meditation for many people,” said artist John Aaron, who has just published Color Me Boulder, a 20-page coloring book of Boulder’s iconic architecture.
“I have run into people who call themselves coloring book addicts,” said Aaron. “They look for the newest books and the coolest books. One lady explained to me that coloring put her in ‘happy place.’ So, these things seem to assist many folks including people who might not do yoga or meditation.”
Aaron, who was first commissioned for Boulder architectural portraits back in the 1980s, had no grand plan to create a coloring book. Now living in Ojai, California, he got a call about a year ago telling him that a Boulder friend had been in a serious accident and he came to help out. While recuperating, she was coloring postcards and as they wandered Boulder’s old neighborhoods he had an “ah-ha” moment.
“We were staying at a cottage on Mapleton Hill and my architectural passions kicked in with all the beautiful houses around, and I began to draw them,” said Aaron. “My friend mentioned it might make a good book of houses to color, and the rest, as they say at the Boulder Carnegie Library, is history.”
Aaron said the houses were chosen for various reasons.
“One of the houses was selected because a crow walked up to me on the sidewalk and seemed to suggest I should draw the house I was standing in front of,” said Aaron. “As I started to do more and more of these I realized I was in fact creating a book.”
Color Me Boulder also includes the house that belonged to Eben G. Fine known around town in the early 1900’s as Mr. Boulder, for touting the city’s charms. The art deco Boulder Theater appears on page 23, and Boulder’s neo-classical Carnegie Library for Local History also gets prime time. And what would a Boulder coloring book be without the Arnett Fullen House on west Peal Street, said to be haunted. That led Aaron to include descriptions of each house below the coloring template.
“I was fortunate to work with Historic Boulder and Carnegie Library and included a couple paragraphs to explain who built the house, who were the architects, what changes the house went through, and even what ghosts might reside there. This book is like an heirloom that could be passed down, from grandparents to parents to kids,” said Aaron.