I did it. I decided to get over my ironic worry and my deep, personal issues with self-esteem, and I did it. I am about to join you adults in the Wonderful World of Colouring.
I ordered an adult colouring book.
You might be wondering at my embarrassment, my “ironic worry” (yes, I am the type of arrogant *** who quotes herself from the same piece of writing that she is, uh, writing), given your unabashed obsession with adult colouring books, that may or may not be pornographic. Nope, my embarrassment is not due to the fact that those not in-the-know will think something rather deviant is going on between me, the book that’s on its way, and my box of colouring pencils. In a way, that might even justify the word “adult” in the title – it’s about sex, right? But, these books are mostly not about bringing colour to your sex life. Think of certifiable adults, possessing voting rights among other adult-y things, looking mistily into the horizon from their windows on a quiet, lazy Saturday afternoon, and then bringing their field of vision to a spread of black-on-white-inked, predominantly asexual pattern, waiting to be completed by a small army of felt-tip pens in every colour of the spectrum.
lot little late to the party, but that’s what people have been doing obsessively around the world for the past five years.
For most people, it is re-discovering a past source of enjoyment. You used to play football or sew handkerchiefs or tinker with an instrument and you want to do that again because of a combination of nostalgia and pure, unadulterated joy that such an activity can bring. Colouring is just one such thing that you did way, way before you even heard the word Michelangelo, let alone Picasso and Warhol. It’s not just a childhood source of enjoyment, it’s pre-school, the thing your parents allowed you to do when you hardly had any awareness of what you were doing. You do it as an adult now, and to keep things adult enough, you have challenging, intricate patterns to colour instead of a big circle on the page that’s supposed to be a ball, or a drawing of an apple that you just had to colour blue. The complex mandala you colour now could be just as creative as your blue apples.
Adult colouring has had its (un)fair share of jokes over the years. It’s been a publishing phenomenon, and people not only have no problem going into stores to buy colouring books and pens for themselves, they even flaunt their finished pages on social media. Many keep them on their desks at work, colouring in when they feel stressed or bored, and it’s all completely fine. It is, perhaps, the finest of all adult activity. No moral standards have been set on it yet. No one is complaining of the waste of paper (it is art), the use of synthetic colour (still art) and time that could be spent doing something that’s challenging, like picking up a skill, or actually drawing something first.
Not that I’m saying these colouring books aren’t challenging in their own right. I have mixed feelings about whether I want them to be. I do want an as-unchallenging-as-possible hobby to relax the certified neurotic that I am. Especially because I manage to complicate every relaxing thing I ever do. Even if I am passively watching a romantic comedy, I have to think of a sequel immediately after it’s over, in which everything goes downhill. I need something self-contained, that stays within the lines, and let’s my mind escape from itself.
My qualms about colouring stems from the fact that I didn’t really colour as a child. I took four years of art classes outside school, the first two because my parents made me, and the second two years on my own volition, because I wanted to get good. I didn’t, but I thoroughly enjoyed drawing and painting as a kid. But, I never had colouring books. I maybe had a few black-and-white pictures here and there that came with colouring pen sets, but I never did the simple act of filling in. My work ethos even then was – if you can colour, you might as well draw it first. Which can be interpreted as condescension, but I genuinely did not believe it was worth investing money on something that was already half-made. I understood the necessity of the blank page even then.
But, that is not the goal this time around. While I haven’t given up on the fantasy of being a popstar (yeah, yeah, laugh all you like), I am not going to be an artist of any kind in this lifetime. Which might even make art the near-equal of dancing for me – an uncorrupt joy, for lack of any training. I might even try the two together and make a YouTube video, making a multimedia piece of art. And fail miserably and come back to the only art form that will have me, that celebrates my ineptitude – my writing.
Are you an adult? Do you colour? Why do you colour? If you don’t, have you ever thought about it? If you haven’t, why haven’t you?