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Howard “Curly” Greenberg’s Coloring Book & Stress Reliever for Adults of All Temperaments. (The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)

Baltimore artist will help you color your stress away

Howard “Curly” Greenberg.

Howard “Curly” Greenberg.

Whether he’s out with friends or in the hospital recovering from back surgery, Howard “Curly” Greenberg is always doodling on his drawing pad.

He averages at least two to three drawings a day, mostly what he describes as “doodles,” and has been doing it for decades.

“He must have tens of thousands of drawings,” said Greenberg’s childhood friend, “Mo” Joe Shansky.

He and Greenberg, both 70, have been friends since they were 13, growing up together as avid fans of “The Three Stooges” in Brooklyn, New York. Greenberg came to Baltimore to complete his graduate studies at Maryland Institute College of Art in 1966 and never left. Shansky moved to Rhode Island, but the two remained friends.

Earlier this year, Shansky, a graphic designer and freelance writer, wrote an article about adult coloring books, a rapidly growing phenomenon that has a dedicated section at Barnes & Noble and is gaining traction as a stress reliever for adults.

Writing the article immediately made Shansky think of his friend.

“I said to myself, this sounds like a good idea for Howie,” he said.

The duo selected 23 doodles from Greenberg’s collection, made on 11×14 matte paper using black and blue ballpoint pens, to build a coloring book. The drawings weren’t retouched or redrawn in the process.

From there, the friends created Curly’s Mojo, turning Greenberg’s doodles into a business.

“I am the ‘mojo’ of Curly’s Mojo,” said Shansky. “He does the drawings and I find the applications for them.”

Curly’s Mojo has sold slightly over 100 adult coloring books around Baltimore and Rhode Island, titled “Coloring Book & Stress Reliever For Adults of all Temperaments,” since this summer. Greenberg would like to sell the books at the Baltimore Museum of Art and Walter’s Art Museum. The book was self-published in Warren, Rhode Island.

With adult coloring books becoming increasingly popular, Curly’s Mojo highlights Greenberg’s original work as a characteristic that makes its product unique. The pair primarily promotes the book on Facebook.

Even though Greenberg and Shansky live nearly 400 miles away from each other, the two work together on the businesses through phone and email. Greenberg also goes up to Rhode Island every few months.

While the business is starting small, Curly’s Mojo already has two children’s books on the way, one of which Greenberg drew just this past week while he was in the hospital for back surgery. He drew illustrations for a children’s coloring book about what happens at a hospital or doctor’s office.

“It’s amazing, I got 23 pages done in five days,” said Greenberg.

“It’s a nice use of his experiences to put into drawing form and story form,” said Shansky, who will write the story to accompany Greenberg’s art. The pair is also working on a children’s book about a circus coming to a fictional city called Curlyville.

After graduating from MICA with a master’s degree in art education, Greenberg went on to be an art teacher for 39 years, first in Baltimore and then in Anne Arundel County. Going from teaching art and doodling for fun to turning it into a business has been a learning curve.

“I’m not used to doing marketing of my own stuff,” he said.

Curly’s Mojo also sells a puzzle that can be colored in once it’s completed. The company is looking to use Greenberg’s drawings to make prints for scarves, ties and even sofa fabrics someday.