Colouring books for adults are a rage today, but it took Scottish artist-illustrator Johanna Basford and her best-selling Secret Garden for us to realize that colouring, a way to keep toddlers out of trouble, could be a hugely meditative and calming activity for adults too—one that needed no great artistic skill or precision except the ability to stay within the lines.
Like Basford, Suranya Aiyar, a Delhi-based writer-illustrator and the founder of Mama Suranya Books, which publishes children’s books on Indian art, festivals, legends and music, wanted children and adults to enjoy colouring while imbibing something on these subjects. Aiyar has created Play Art, a colouring and sticker-game app that uses narratives from her books, to connect with a digital-first audience that needs wholesome content on smartphones and tablets. “My children, who are 6 and 9, spend a certain amount of time on the iPad. Given that it’s unavoidable, I wanted to provide them with content rooted in Indian art, music, flora and fauna," says Aiyar. Music and sound are integral, and Aiyar has used pieces composed by sarangi maestro Ustad Arif Ali Khan. In-app sounds feature tabla beats, the call of peacocks, koels and parrots, splashing water, and children laughing.
The Play Art colouring app can do with more sophisticated navigation and design, and is not as intuitive as it should be. But if you want to get rid of that soul-sucking Candy Crush habit, you could get hooked to Play Art instead and enjoy its simple and soulful experience.
Play Art is available for download on App Store and Play Store for free. In-app purchases include some stickers and paid colouring pages priced from ₹ 10-80.