Children are captivated with picture books and coloring books from the very beginning of life. It was not uncommon for children’s books to be composed of only a couple of words, or sometimes even no words. Before children learn to read and write words and phrases, they are introduced to coloring books. I remember sitting down at the kitchen table, my two older sisters hovering over me emphasizing to me the importance of staying within the lines, keeping the lines sharp and never putting too much of just one color. To this day, I use these guidelines when I am coloring anything, and coloring anything happens quite often for me.
I find coloring very therapeutic, probably because not much brain power is needed. The rules are so set in stone that there is no need to make decisions, just following a routine. Earlier in the semester I found a giant coloring poster at 5 Below and jumped at the idea of it. As soon as I saw it, I was hooked; I have been coloring it in since the middle of October. It was nice to have something outlined already, and ready for me to delve into. I especially love the fact that it is not Disney princesses or anything too famous or else I would be consumed trying to match the colors perfectly to the read picture. It is nice to be able to do something where not too much thinking beyond “what should the next color be?” is involved. By coincidence, my mom sent me an audio which aired on NPR this past week, Artist Goes outside the Lines with Coloring Books for Grown-Ups, and as it turns out, there are many people like myself who find coloring therapeutic, which I sort of expected.
Coloring inside the lines is therapeutic, likely because it is so engrained; there is not much need to think about whether or not the technique should be practiced. In this project, I tried to challenge the idea of what was comfortable coloring. In addition to using crayons, I also used markers, streamers, newspaper, tape, glue, magazines, the list goes on. I want to make the act of filling in the lines as uncomfortable as possible, while still keeping the piece cohesive. I chose to make fish out of eye balls in magazines, draw in a hidden mermaid (can you see it? It is pretty big), make a shark dive through the water. When I first began making myself uncomfortable, I found myself cutting out squares and decorating the poster by filling in the poster with mosaic tiles. I quickly realized that this technique would take far too long, so I tried various other techniques including cutting out magazines, added 3D components with jut outs. Seeing as the poster took me nearly 5 months to get 1/10 of it done, I had a few friends come help me out. They definitely don't enjoy coloring as much as me and were very confused how this could be an english project. When I explained that I was trying to make myself uncomfortable by challenging a structure that is so engrained in me, they still didn't seem to get it. Instead of handing them crayons and markers I gave them scissors and glue. Being the perfectionist that I am, I had to forgo the idea that the poster was going to be colored how I originally expected. Despite this fact, I am tremendously pleased with how it came out, despite the fact that it was painful not doing it the way I had intended.
Before this weekend,
After this weekend,