It used to be a jigsaw puzzle. And I still like jigsaw puzzles. But now it’s a coloring book.
It’s not the coloring book from my past that featured Barbie or TV cartoon characters, but a newly branded adult coloring book with pictures of varied and abstract animals, nature, geometric shapes, and more. With intricate delineations, it begs to be respected by coloring, as we used to say, in the lines.
Back then, the instrument of choice for applying color to the page was a Crayola crayon; preferably from the 64 pack featuring colors like periwinkle, goldenrod, apricot, mulberry, cadet blue, raw umber, and cornflower. Most of these have continued to avoid forced retirement; however, raw umber and mulberry have bitten the dust. The unlikely burnt sienna was saved and is still with us.
My crayons have now stepped aside for the colored pencils - 50 of them - which make me stare and contemplate more than if I only have 8 or 16 to choose from. And when I do choose a pencil, I also use another contrasting or complimentary color because I like the look when coloring small adjacent spaces. Watching the page slowly transform from black and white to vivid hues is like watching the sun rise as life become visible.
So what’s the big deal? I don’t know, but it feels good. Everyone who writes about it calls it a stress reliever; something that makes them relax. For me, it feels more like a creative process - fun, slightly challenging, and a quest for patience. It allows me to join the real artists of the world. As for the relaxation, yes, I’m pretty relaxed, though sometimes when I want a bright picture, as opposed to one that’s more pastel, I bear down with the pencil and that sometimes puts a tightness in my aging arm and shoulder. But when that happens, I just ease up.
During the Thanksgiving weekend I visited my parents and took colored pencils and new dollar store coloring books. (After all, I didn’t know if Mom would want to color or not, so no need to spend ten bucks on one book when I could present her with 3 for $3.00… right?) After we were all stuffed with dinner and dessert, the coloring commenced. I was glad to see my teen-aged nephew grab one of the books because some see this as a girl thing, and it’s not. (Google it.) Pages were torn from another book and shared by my daughters. Mom watched. It was our last day there. We were going home in an hour. Before we left, she said, “Are you leaving my coloring books?"
Yes, I did leave her coloring books. And she’s been coloring - a lot! Whenever she’s plagued with her health issues or trying to help with my stepfather’s health issues and it gets to be time for a time out, she gets the book and pencils. Or instead of giving in to the sofa while watching TV, she sits at the table coloring while glimpsing at the TV. This is turning out to be a nice discovery for both of us. My daughter gave me a nice quality coloring book for Christmas and I can see its addiction potential; like my jigsaw puzzles. “I’ll do one more piece before I go to bed.” And then it’s 20 more pieces. With the coloring, it’s one more leaf, or the shoes, or the eyes...
I sound like an expert, right? Ha! I’m only on my third page.
But… the coloring book is a keeper. I might need it as we board the next bus that begins our travels through 2017 and beyond. Hoping the ride will be smooth so that I will stay inside the lines.
What do you do to unwind? Have you tried coloring?
My daughter, Girl #3, prefers coloring with markers. I'll try markers soon.
|Art by Girl #3|