Do it, don’t think it ….
Adult coloring books can make great gifts for those who seek relaxation, however the complex designs can also be downright pressure inducing for the analytically inclined, like me. I found myself asking where is the joy in coloring and what does coloring other people’s drawings have to do with being creative?
Even though, as I tell people, it is only a coloring book, in the end you want it to look good. It doesn’t take much thought to get started, but once the dominant areas are completed, then it becomes a trick to attain color balance and not end up with a muddy mess. Things quickly turn from fun, to challenging, to stressful. Often times it is easier to give up and move on to another drawing. My personal downfall is that I overly focus on decisions and try to control details, rather than relaxing into the moment.
To counter this, I decided to let my mind rest and simply not use it. I dumped all 50 of my coloring pencils into a cup that was then put out of sight, picked a drawing from Chris Carver’s book “Animal Oddessy – Coloring from the Familiar to the Fantastic,” and became color-blind. My rule was simple; I would pick a space to be colored and choose a pencil at random that I had to use in that space. The only exception was that I could carryover a color if it was an obvious continuation of space.
Two things became immediately clear. The stress was gone, and coloring was fun again. Because I had no decisions to make, the analytic side of my brain began to relax. I was less focused on forcing balance and harmony and more open to the wonder and joy of the journey.
And I used colors I would normally never select. Sure disappointment surfaced when I picked a color I wasn’t drawn to or one that didn’t work as well in a placement as another might have, but I did begin to appreciate the qualities and interplay these colors brought to the design. In the end, everything felt more integrated than I would have ever expected.
What does this have to do with being creative? It’s much like looking at life while wearing blinders. What’s in front of you is sharply in focus. Only by removing them to do you see the expanse of what surrounds you. Once you see that space exists, it is then possible to step into it.