Monday, May 18, 2015

Color Me Challenged

by Susanne Dietze

One of my friends posts photos of her accomplishments on her Facebook page...nothing new there, right? We all do it, or have friends who do. But these photos caught my attention because they were of coloring book pages she'd filled in with colored pencils.

I hadn't heard of Adult Coloring Books. Maybe I'm just out of the loop, but it's a Real Thing. A Big Thing. Johanna Basford's Secret Garden, published in 2013, has sold 1.4 million copies and is an Amazon bestseller.
Amazon purchase link

The last time I colored a picture (with colored pencils or crayons, between the lines) was at church, helping kids with a project. I remember many, many hours coloring with my kids, and a looong adventure spent coloring a complicated American Girl poster with my daughter.

But me, coloring, all by myself, for myself? Umm... Nope. Can't remember anything once I was out of school.

Basford's second book, Enchanted Forest, is pretty popular, too. It has over 300 Five-Star reviews on Amazon.
Amazon purchase link
Basford hand-draws each page, which is far too complicated for young hands. The pictures look beautiful, I admit. But spending time coloring one? Me? Maybe you're thinking something similar. I'm too busy. If I'm going to indulge in something creative, it has to pay off...

Uh-oh. I think I'm getting the point.

Basford isn't alone in creating coloring pages for grown-ups. Lucy Mucklow and Angela Porter offer an entire Color Me Series.

Amazon purchase link
Here's the back cover copy:

Our lives become busier with each passing day, and as technology escalates, so does our access to work, obligations, and stress. Constant stimulation and expectation have left us burnt out and distanced from the present moment. "Now" has become something that happens online, not in the space and time that we physically occupy. Color Me Calm is a guided coloring book designed for harried adults. Art therapist Lacy Mucklow and artist Angela Porter offer up 100 coloring templates all designed to help you get coloring and get relaxed.

I don't know if I'll hop on the coloring bandwagon, but I am challenged by its intention. When was the last time I did something creative just to be creative? Not for my career (writing books). Not to give as a gift or complement my new release (beading bookmarks with my daughter for giveaways for my book).

I honestly don't remember, because even though I didn't realize I was doing it, I've judged creativity without "purpose" as something I'm too pridefully-busy to do. And as you might have guessed, I'm stressed out. Fretting. Sad about a few things.

Stress and sadness are part of life, but God has given us many ways to cope while we shelter under His arms. One of them is trusting Him enough to rest.

In resting, we let Him do the work. We trust Him enough that we can let go and let Him handle things while we take a break. He made us to need sleep, after all. So why do we often look at fatigue and rest as a weakness?

Coloring might go along with that idea. Letting something go. Creating just to create. Not for show. Not for anyone else's eyes. Just to feel the paper give way to our pencil, to hear the swish of strokes while the color of our choosing fills the space between the lines.

Blood pressure goes down. Heart rate, down. Rest.

I think I still have a Spiderman coloring book around here somewhere...


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  1. A couple weeks ago, I took my oldest daughter to a university to preview its pharmacy school. The more she learned the more excited she became. She went to school and told her marketing class that she finally found something she wanted to go to college for and work as a career. The responses -- "but you are so good at graphic design." She is good. She's also smart enough to know she wants drawing to be her "fun" thing. She draws to relax.

    I suggested she take her manga drawings and make coloring books out of them. Maybe we'll figure out how to do it this summer.

    Fun post!!

  2. What a great experience for your daughter! Congrats to her for deciding on a major and knowing herself well enough to understand drawing relaxes her. She's a smartie!

    Let me know what you learn about making coloring books!

  3. Great post, Susie! I can totally see how this would work as it forces you to slow down. Now I'm wondering what it says about someone who never could color in the lines even as a child. Ahem.

    Having said that, this reminds me of jigsaw puzzles which I've always loved and do quite well. It's my way of relaxing in the evening when the family is watching TV. I'm with them, listening and available, but enjoying a favorite calming pastime. :)

    1. Great point about jigsaw puzzles, Anita Mae. You can engage with others while you work on them, and every once in a while, someone helps you with a piece!

  4. I LOVE to color!

    In fact, I already have "The Secret Garden." And I bought a bunch of other coloring books . . . not to color, but to use for embroidery patterns. They're great!

    But I digress. I love to color, too. I don't always take time to do it, but my sister and I usually color when the family gets together for Christmas.

    And we do a jigsaw puzzle, too. :D

    1. Ooh, fun, DeAnna! What a great idea to use the patterns for embroidery. Wonderful.

  5. Basically, it all comes around again when you have grandchildren . Except they break the spell earlier than I want to quit coloring.


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