My preschool years are pretty much a blur by now but, for some mysterious reason, I have a distinct memory of one afternoon in kindergarten when a classmate picked up the red crayon on our table just as I was reaching for it. Uncharacteristically, I protested rather sharply. I don’t remember what I said or whether I snatched the crayon but I know my thought was: How dare she? Ineed it!Anyone could have clearly seen that I absolutely needed to have the red to complete my drawing!
Despite this serious approach to color and art when I was little, I studied science in college and eventually became a writer. Pablo Picasso probably had people like me in mind when he said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” This statement resonates so much with me that I used it in the introduction of my latest book, Restore My Soul, a devotional coloring book that has brought me full circle back to those days in kindergarten four decades ago.
The popularity of colouring books has spread like wildfire among adults in the last year or two, partly just because it’s the latest craze and many people like to be in on new trends, but also because, as multiple news reports have explained, colouring touches a place deep inside many people.
1. Coloring helps us destress. It calls us to slow down and to unplug. It engages our imagination, our eyes and our hands. Depending on personality and skill level, it can help us clear our heads for a couple of hours or provide quick satisfaction when we finish a page. And, despite what many people believe, artistic talent is not needed to enjoy colouring. It’s supposed to be fun—whether we end up with a masterpiece or a page full of scribbles. There should be no pressure to create something that needs the approval of others.
2. Coloring is a bit like meditation, something the world sees as the art of doing nothing. Mental health practitioners have used coloring pages with their patients for years. Because the Bible gives a different definition of and purpose to meditation, I chose to add devotionals to my colouring book so that color-er would have something wholesome to reflect on and pray about while coloring. What we meditate on matters! Even if you’re using a regular coloring book that doesn’t include devotions or meditations, I would encourage you to spend a few minutes in prayer or reading your Bible first to make sure that when your mind starts wandering your focus is on godly thoughts.
3. Coloring uses both sides of our brains.Psychologist Gloria Martinez Ayala explains: “The action involves both logic, by which we color forms, and creativity, when mixing and matching colors. This incorporates the areas of the cerebral cortex involved in vision and fine motor skills.” This would seem to bust the myth that coloring is only for artistic types. Those who enjoy math, geometry and patterns can also take pleasure in certain types of illustrations.
4. Coloring transports us back to our childhood.It allows us to partake in an enjoyable activity we long ago let someone tell us is childish. It also transports us to a time and place faraway… like a staycation! While some may see this as a juvenile pursuit or a waste of time, the Bible nowhere forbids enjoying restful leisure time when it’s appropriate and needed. In fact, I have found coloring to be a great way to connect with my grown nieces and spend an entire evening together, chatting and catching up in a way that might not have been possible without the shared activity.
5. Coloring sparks creativity.Adults who colour regularly have been found to be more creative in other areas, such as decorating, picking clothing colours, in their jobs, in analytical thinking activities, etc. It can also be a great starting point for those who would like to be more artistic or explore their creativity. One of my friends, an avid crafter, said to me: “I view colouring as a great outlet for those who aren't going to sit down and make their own thing from scratch, and need guidance to get something creative/artsy started.” Another friend has remarked that she colors because it helps spark her creativity. “When I'm selecting colors and mediums to fill in all those fine lines, I think about how I can use those in my own original pieces.”
I use every opportunity to encourage those who believe they aren’t creative to go ahead and try coloring. First of all, I believe that everyone is creative, even if that creativity doesn’t necessarily manifest itself in an artistic way, because we are all made in God’s image and He is the Creator! I try to reassure people that coloring books are not exclusively for artistic types. Sure, some people will spend hours on a page, blending colors, shading sections just so and carefully staying inside the lines. That gives them pleasure and, if they share their work on social media, they may get enthusiastic responses. There’s nothing wrong with that but it shouldn’t be everyone’s goal when picking up a coloring book.
The main purpose for coloring is to simply enjoy the experience—whether it’s the physical act of rubbing pencils or markers on the paper, or the chance to clear your head while engaging in an activity that reminds you of the simpler days of your childhood. If coloring in a book becomes stressful for any reason, you’re doing it wrong! My advice is to not compare your work to what you see online unless you’re looking for ideas. If the work of others makes you think yours is ugly, turn your computer off. No one has to see your coloring. Just enjoy it in the moment and let it be something between you and God.
By the way, my favorite color is still red.
Ann-Margret Hovsepian is a Montreal-based author and illustrator. Her best-selling devotional coloring book, Restore My Soul: A Coloring Book Devotional Journey(Tyndale Momentum), hit stores in April 2016. Visit Ann-Margret at www.annhovsepian.com.
Restore My Soul is part of Tyndale’s Living ExpressionsTMCollection, a special line of products that invites readers to engage their inner creativity through coloring and a variety of inspiring activities for visual self-expression. Find more on Restore My Soul& others like it in the rest of this line, which you’ll see when you check out the official website at www.LivingExpressionsCollection.comand discover all that Living ExpressionsTMhas to offer.
Tyndale Momentum and the Tyndale Momentum logo are registered trademarks of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Tyndale Momentum is an imprint of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Steam, IL.
Living Expressions and the Living Expressions logo are trademarks of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Tyndale, founded in 1962, is the world’s largest privately held Christian publisher of books, Bibles, and digital media. Tyndale has published many New York Times bestsellers. The largest portion of its profit goes to the nonprofit Tyndale House Foundation, which makes grants to help meet the physical and spiritual needs of people around the world. Tyndale was founded to publish Living Letters, which later comprised part of The Living Bible, a contemporary paraphrase of the Bible that became a global publishing phenomenon. Tyndale now publishes the Holy Bible, New Living Translation (NLT), the translation of choice for millions of people.
Publication date: September 22, 2016
Image courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com