Monday, April 27, 2015

Adult Colouring - Maybe It's Not For Me.... (part 1)

For the first time in just over 35 years, I have one - and my how they’ve changed!

But these days I now need reading glasses to use one, my youthful near-20/20 vision gone. And I don’t go outside the lines provided I have my reading glasses on – most of the time. On the odd occasion I DO gone outside the lines - a slip of the hand from too much caffeine or a nod-off too late in the night after too long a day at work - my peri-menopausal hormones practically send me into a crying fit, something resembling a toddler-like tantrum. Sort of.

So what is it?

It’s a colouring book.

No Little Red Riding Hood, Bugs Bunny or Mickey Mouse pages for me, however fun those might be. This is what is called these days as an ‘adult’ colouring book.

My first colouring book as a 40-something is Johanna Basford’s ‘Enchanted Forest.’ It’s the follow-up book to her worldwide bestseller, ‘Secret Garden,’ which was sold-out EVERYWHERE when I initially got wind of the pencil-crayon phenomenon a few weeks ago. Both books feature whimsical, charming black-and-white drawings just waiting to be coloured. Colouring for adults has long been reputed as a de-stressing activity, many adult-type colouring books featuring black and white zen-like mandalas having been around for years.

But when needing to fulfill the creative urge, and wanting to break-out of the repetitive, yet soothing, way of the mandala, these new colouring books (along with many others) have taken the publishing world – and suppliers of felts and pencil crayons – by storm.

And I’ve gotten caught up in that storm.

And I love it.

I’m a ‘creative’ so doing something like this isn’t new to me. I used to do a lot of scrapbooking and card-making which lead to ink stamping with shading and colouring-in of the stamped images. But I am no artiste. Colouring is for everyone; anyone can do it. If you can scribble, if you like adding colour to your life and, then the new-wave of colouring is for you.

But when I came home with my first colouring book a few weeks ago excited with my purchase, and confident in my colouring ability, closer inspection of the colouring pages sent me in to a panic.

There’s a lot of detail, big and small, I thought with a gulp as I browsed through the book that first night while curled up on the couch. And there’s only one of the design in the whole book! If I mess up, THAT’S IT!

What had I gotten myself into?
I tried not to cry. I thought colouring was supposed to be de-stressing, not STRESS inducing!

I never thought I would associate the word ‘intimidating’ with a colouring book….

But I was excited AND curious! I was in need of something de-stressing. I was eager for a new creative outlet (like I needed another one!). I had been in a creative slump lately, detrimental to a writer, and was looking for some new action - but between the pages of a different kind of book.

I could do this! I told myself. It’s JUST colouring!

So after taking a deep calming breath which is weird in itself given I was about to DO something calming, I picked through the zillions of old pencil crayons from my kid’s school leftovers eager for a few semi-sharp ones. Our pencil sharpener at home is awful, and I knew the one at work would do a better job. I would have to wait until the next day when I could sharpen them.
Okay, I thought. No problem. I was just in a ‘testing’ phase, anyways. (Yes, I am well aware I over-think things).

I swallowed my panic, opted for a least intricate design, and got busy with the few decently-sharp pencil crayons.

The reading glasses were on, the tongue was poised outside the corner of my mouth, the couch was at it comfiest, and I was colouring! What more could a girl ask for?

And then I went out of the lines – not once, but twice. I had to slow down – I had to calm down. And I had to remember it was OKAY to screw up – pencil crayons DO erase (but not felt, as I had learned). As I coloured – as I screwed up – I had to keep in mind this colouring page was ONLY for me. My intention wasn’t to frame any finished pieces – unless I wanted to. This was just supposed to be a relaxing venture – a calming activity.

But then I got so stressed out with my dull pencil crayons I had to stop and wait until the next day when I could sharpen them at work. It was getting to be too stressful colouring with dull ones.

So the next day I loaded up my BIG BAGGIE of pencil crayons, brought them to work, and got busy sharpening with one of those old-fashioned hand-crank sharpeners. Those hand-crank sharpeners are the best – truly, they are. But I had A LOT of pencil crayons, you see, which meant A LOT of cranking, turning, cranking, and turning.

Well, that didn’t work out as planned, either.

If you have read any of my previous posts you will see I have also taken up archery. Yes, I am a woman of the world.

But as I am relatively new in the sport of archery, my muscles - at least, the ones I have started growing in my arms since taking up the sport – are tender, sore, and easily tire. I have to baby them, you see, and take care of my precious arms for not only writing, but archery. My muscles ARE getting better, but so conscious am I of my archery-needed arms and their constantly sore muscles, that manually sharpening a zillion pencil crayons with a hand-crank sharpener with my ever-sore, bow-holding arm proved to be a bit taxing. Not only did my arm tire all-too-soon into my sharpening task, but I remembered that I had practice that night and couldn’t bear the thought of wrecking my important archery arm by over-sharpening.

I started to worry: would I have to eventually choose between archery, colouring and – GASP - writing to preserve my arm?
So stressed-out and concerned about my arm I became I took to the task in increments: sharpening a few – resting; sharpening a few more – resting; sharpening a few more – resting.

But what about my new colouring thing? I wailed. I had to get these sharpened! I moaned as I accidentally stabbed myself with a sharp tip.

Now before you start to think I’m a lazy lout at work, I did this all BEFORE my shift.

Finally done, all while pretending to have downed a few Valium to get through the stressful task, I was content with the fact that not only would I be able to colour, but my bow-arm would go on to shot another arrow. I would live to write another word.

But then...

I immediately realized because of archery practice later that night, which goes relatively late, I wouldn’t have time to do any colouring that night, after all.

My shoulders slumped.

That’s fine, I figured. I needed to give my archery/colouring arm a rest, anyways. A little de-stressing time away from the colouring would do me a world of good, I figured.

I have enough stress with archery, as is (and that’s another story in itself).

Finally, the NEXT night came around, and I was free to do all the colouring I wanted.

And then everything changed.....

(stay tuned for part 2)

Thanks for reading!


  1. Okay, that's a mighty impressive selection of pencil crayons. Still trying to locate the colouring books...

    Oh, and when do you find time to sleep anyway?

    1. I fall asleep as I'm colouring, unfortunately. I love it, but man - I'm busy!!! Thanks for stopping by, Ros! xo