You don’t have to spend much time on Facebook these days to see friends get angry with friends and even post mean or horrible things on their pages. The coronavirus, protests, stay-at-home orders, sports cancellations…it truly has been too much to handle some days.

What we need is an app to take our minds off of the bad news and the noise. While I’ve reviewed and tried over a dozen meditation apps since the spring, I started looking for something to completely take my mind away from stress, anxiety and just bad news.

Remember those old paint-by-numbers kits you may have gotten as a kid? They still make them and you can find them in some hobby stores but I found a paint-by-numbers app for my smartphone and thought I’d give it a try.

April Coloring is a free to use app for iOS and Android devices. It’s another coloring book app but without the pressure of deciding what colors to actually put in the spaces.

Whenever I’ve used a coloring book app I freeze while opening a new page and before putting my finger or stylus to the screen. What did a real artist come up with? What color should that be? Is that part of the sky or part of their hair? Those apps can be fun, but I don’t find them all that relaxing. I have to think while playing.

April Coloring doesn’t require you to think of what color to use on someone’s shoes, or balloon or kitten. Each picture has blocks for color but those blocks have a tiny number that corresponds to a color. So you know what color a doorway should be and how a slightly different shade can make a picture more professional.

Unlike some coloring book apps, you do have to paint or swipe each block rather than tap the screen. You can use your finger or a stylus. The iOS version works with the Apple Pencil.

Just because it sounds easy doesn’t mean you can finish a picture quickly. There are lots of small blocks that need to be brushed or painted before the picture is complete.
The two pictures I painted, a cake surrounded by fruit and one showing a busy street, took about 10 minutes each. It was an entertaining 20 minutes and I never had to think about anything. Just pick a block and color.

April Coloring is free for a limited number of pages. A subscription for unlimited pages is $9.99 a month or $60 a year.