I have always loved to color. Give me some crayons and a page with a picture outline, and I’m be a happy girl.
I was one of those kids who had to make weekly trips to the doctor’s office for allergy shots. I hated the shots, but I always looked forward to visiting the doctor because of the ample supply of fresh coloring pages on the kid-sized table in the corner. I’d grab a nubby crayon, fill in a few sections and take the work-in-progress to my momma for approval. I’d get her nod, race back to add a new color, and then interrupt her again to quiz her on which hue I’d added.
As I became older though, coloring books went the way of Barbies and stuffed animals. I transitioned to doodling in notebooks, and if no one was watching, I’d fill in the O’s and Q’s and the bubbles on the P’s and B on the photocopied pages the teachers handed out.
I was so excited to buy my son his first coloring book. It was a huge 200-page Scooby Doo book with pictures way too intricate for a toddler. I have offered this book to both my children to help them pass time on a rainy day, but the majority of completed pictures have my initials at the bottom of the page. (You have to sign your work, I told them, or Daddy might claim he did it!)
So, last spring when NBC News anchor Lester Holt launched a segment of the Nightly News with, “And now to a story that has us all going back to our childhood,” I stopped cooking dinner and listened to how the biggest craze to hit the nation was adult coloring and how the top five books on Amazon.com were coloring books. The top book was on back-order for a month, so good luck with that.
Coloring, Lester told me, was gaining popularity with adults because of the stress relief benefits of art therapy, and the freedom people felt from being able to go against convention and color a tree blue and the sky green.
“No way!” Itold the TV screen, then countered with “Yes way,” when I logged on to Amazon to see that, yep, the top five books were coloring books and the top one was back-ordered.
I immediately placed an order for the #1 back-ordered book, one of the other top five that claimed to target stress relief and a $50 set of colored pencils.
When the package arrived, I was at the height of selling a house, coordinating a West Point graduation trip, and planning a beach vacation. If anyone needed stress relieving art therapy and blue trees, it was me.
I felt my heart beating a little too fast while packing graduation swag bags one night, grabbed a book and the over-priced pencils, and decided to test the “stress relief” claim emblazoned on the cover of the #2 best-selling coloring book on the planet. (#1 really was on back-order for a month.)
An hour later, I was well on my way through my first mandala (an intricate Spirograph-like circular pattern popular with colorists) and feeling more accomplished than I would have if I’d have continued trying to pack sunscreen and hand sanitizer for a bunch of adults who should know enough to pack that stuff for themselves.
Now, I’m working my way through Johanna Basford’s Lost Ocean and learning how to blend colors–something I never did with the crayons at the doctor’s office.
I haven’t colored any blue trees yet, but I did do a purple leafy fern thing in an ocean scene. I guess I’m not ready to break too many rules yet, but it has been fun to go back to doing a “kid” thing again and adding a little bit of grown-up flare.