Mindfulness. Relaxation. Stress relief. Although according to research any structured, rhythmic activity can help you achieve these things, adult coloring seems to be the latest and greatest way to get there. And it’s no wonder: coloring is inexpensive, requires zero drawing skills, reminds of us of childhood, and is fun in a simple way.
I loved to color when I was a kid. In fact, my great uncle Orville Ganes was a professional cartoonist and one of my prouder childhood moments was when he penned a cartoon of my grandfather, his brother, riding a jalopy and asked me to color it in because he “heard a rumor” that I was “really talented” at it. I was 8 and beyond thrilled. Unfortunately, one of my more embarrassing childhood moments came about five minutes later when I accidentally colored outside of a line on that drawing because my sweaty fingers were a bit too eager to prove my “talent.” Sigh.
Despite this mild snag in my artistic career, I continued to secretly consider myself an expert colorer (apparently that’s not a word, but I’m using it anyway). In fact, I remember buying coloring books and crayons in college and spending a few weeknights on my dorm room floor, avoiding studying for finals by deciding if Ariel should become a brunette or keep the ginger locks Disney gave her.
Although I always feel the urge for markers whenever I see a black and white image, after college I don’t recall any coloring activity until my niece came along. And then about a year or so ago, out of nowhere it seemed, adult coloring books started appearing all over the place. Given my past love affair with coloring, it’s surprising it took me so long to jump on the bandwagon. Or maybe not, considering I’ve always been rather suspicious of hype. In any case, I finally broke down and revisited my former passion.
I bought a couple of books, the biggest box of crayons I could find, some thin-tipped markers, and went to town. As you can imagine, adult coloring books differ from their kid counterparts in that they generally contain more mature images: intricate patterns, fine details, less whimsical subject matters. Think less Prince Charming’s crude blocky castle and more his grandmother’s Zen garden drawn with a thousand hypnotic components.
After a week of almost nightly practice, I can honestly say I’m not as drawn (pun very much intended) to it as I once was, but I also realized my relationship with coloring reiterates what I’ve learned about myself over the years.
- My patience levels are always being tested: These new patterns take forever to complete, which makes it relaxing, time consuming, and oh-so frustrating all at the same time.
- I’m stubborn when determined: It isn’t easy staying inside the lines and I still care when I slip.
- I’m a visionary: I can’t believe Crayola still isn’t making enough colors to satisfy me and when are they going to invent a marker that doesn’t dry out after a few uses?
- I have excellent self-confidence: Even now, after all these years, I am still a coloring rock star.