Saturday, June 3, 2017

“I’ve Colored; Now What Do I DO With It?!" Some Answers To That Question From A "Coloring Expert"


I'm a coloring/creativity workshop facilitator, so folks see me as sort of a "coloring expert," a label I am uncomfortable with, but I've learn to accept with grace (I hope). Part of my job is to answer folks' coloring questions, and I am happy to say that I usually have the answers. Lately, however, I have been getting asked a question that absolutely stumps me:

"What do I do with all my coloring pages?"

Do with them? As a life-long colorist, it never occurred to me that one would DO anything with coloring pages beyond color them. But, as I have heard this question time and time again at the coloring/creativity workshops I run, I thought I should do my due diligence and seek out a proper answer for folks.

I don't believe in reinventing the wheel, so the first thing I did was Google "re-purposing completed coloring pages" to see what other creatives have come up with. Here are the best suggestions I found separated into 4 crafting personality types.

Online Suggestions:

Scrap Paper Tree Tutorial
http://www.everydaymomideas.com/2011/03/scrap-paper-tree-centerpiece-tutorial.html

If you have loads and loads of coloring pages, colored and uncolored, and you don’t mind seriously altering them, this tutorial that is designed to put spare scrapbook paper to good use would be an awesome way to create a unique home decor piece out of coloring pages. I also think it would be an especially good option for folks who have a passion for coloring intricately patterned pages.

11 Crafty Ways To Use Your Coloring Page

If you are into other kinds of creative activities as well as coloring and/or don’t mind investing further money if it means putting your finished coloring page to good use, there's probably at least one idea on this list you might find interesting. One caveat to this link to think about, however, was brought to my attention when a participant in a Coloring Therapy program at the New Braunfels Public Library asked me how I would feel if I saw a scarf of one of the pages of my coloring book, Doodled Blooms, out and about on a stranger's shoulders, which is suggestion #6 on this list. This question led to an intriguing conversation in our group about copyright, artistic license, and plagiarism. It is the best policy to err on the side of caution and politeness; if this idea appeals to you and you wish to wear your gorgeous coloring, seek permission of the artist and/or publisher of your original coloring pages.

4 Brilliant Ways To Repurpose And Display Your Finished Coloring Pages
https://gardentherapy.ca/coloring-pages/

If you’re really happy with the way your coloring page turned out, and you’d like to have a more permanent way to enjoy it in its original form every day and/or share it with others, this link has ideas that are quick and easy that require few additional materials. I especially like the idea of making coasters out of your favorite pages. 

23 Crafts To Make With Adult Coloring Pages
https://craftingagreenworld.com/2016/11/25/23-crafts-to-make-with-adult-coloring-pages/

If you enjoy project tutorials and are comfortable sharing and altering your completed and uncompleted coloring pages, this blog post has enough tutorials to last a crafty colorist a long time! My favorite is #22; I think this would be super fun to make with some of the youngsters in my life.

Have Color Will Travel Suggestions:
Like I said at the beginning of this post, it never really occurred to me that one would need to DO anything with coloring pages. But, I find questions I don't have immediate answers to intriguing (I'm a nerd to my very core!), so I set to brainstorming this predicament. Here's what I came up with:)

1. If you color from books, keep your coloring pages in the bound coloring book, signing and dating your pages as you complete them, creating a memory book of your creative time. You can add text to the back sides of the pages or margins, thoughts that you had while coloring or that the image inspired in you, utilizing the entire book and really having a creative and therapeutic experience with your coloring. Once a coloring book is fully colored, it will essentially have become an art journal.

2. If you primarily enjoy coloring loose and/or torn-out coloring pages, get a 3-ring binder and some sheet protectors. Once you've finished a coloring page, slide it in a protector, creating a sort of a coloring portfolio for you to look back on or to show to friends and family.

3. Use completed coloring pages that are one-sided as extra-special stationary, writing letters on the back sides and sending them to loved ones. Everyone LOVES receiving an actual letter in the mail; that it also does the double duty of being beautifully colored makes it an all the more unique communication experience!

I colored this macro version of a small section of one
of my pages from Doodled Blooms to make the
 background for my blog, but I didn't have the heart to recycle it
 (I have the problem of thinking everything is "precious"). I am now
very excited to use this page for stationary as I have quite a few
pen pals:)

4. It isn't a good thing when our hobbies and passions begin to feel like weights that overwhelm our hearts and our creativity. Living a creative life is a worthwhile goal that needs no purpose or function. Life is creation, so to be alive is to create. To that effect, coloring is of value even if we can't find a "purpose" for our completed pages. The "purpose" was our act of creating them. What I am suggesting next is REALLY emotionally challenging: take a good picture of your completed coloring pages, and then recycle them. The pages served their purpose (they inspired in us, the colorists, creative thought and action) - there is no need for us to DO anything more with them. If they are collecting dust or crowding out other important elements of our lives, then we should let them go. Having just typed this suggestion, I feel compelled to let readers know I HAVE NEVER DONE THIS, NEVER RECYCLED ANY OF MY ART. But, this suggestion is one that comes out of my focused reading on creativity and art in our lives that I have been doing lately, and I am beginning to think that there is more to this idea than just posing a "double-dog-dare" to ourselves.

5. Lastly, this suggestion goes super old school and sort of reflects back to #3 (use coloring pages as stationary): send your completed coloring pages to friends/family to put up on their refrigerators, dorm walls, cubicle walls, and pinup boards (but don’t forget to sign and date them!). I adore getting the completed coloring pages of my young nieces and nephews, so it makes sense that they, too, might enjoy receiving colored pages from their crazy auntie! I have friends of all ages, and I can think of a few who are college aged that would get a kick out of receiving a Lion King coloring page completed by a middle-aged friend. Parents never tire of hearing about how their kids are doing, regardless of how old you are, so even if you're 55, send a completed coloring page to your mom or dad! It may be a head-scratcher to them at first, but it will also probably brighten their day and make them laugh.


Whether you are the sort of person who would like to DO something with your coloring pages or not, I hope this post has given you some ideas to either try or think about (I'm serious about my #4 - why can't I just let my art go? It isn't all amazing, it isn't all truly precious, so why on earth is it still in my studio??). And, if you have an additional suggestion for what to do with coloring pages, PLEASE share with us all in the comments! Coloring nerds need to stick together and help each other continue coloring happily:)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

To Be Or Not To Be: That Is The Question I Am Working On When It Comes To Social Media And Being An Introvert


Earth Day this past Saturday was beautiful in my neck of the woods (Seguin, Texas), and since my family and I had such a full Saturday schedule, I decided to spend the day as unplugged as possible. I wanted to do this in order to make the most of the weekend with my family, but I also wanted to give my brain a bit of a tech break.

Then, I saw these gorgeous grasses dancing in the unexpected April cold front, and decided to let the muse move me to capture the movement on video with my smart phone.




And, I wanted to share it...right that instant.

I'm shocked at how quickly my mind jumps to thinking about how I might share a quirky image I've run across, a picture of a drawing I'm working on, or a random observation I've just had about the meaning of life onto the many social media accounts that I run for myself professionally and personally. On a scale of 1 to 10 for introversion, I rate pretty close to the "I'm allergic to people" intensity (I even need a break from my beloved family on weeks where I have to spend consecutive days out in the world of extroverts). And yet, social media and technology has created in me a desire to make what I once considered my internal world and monologue more a part of public discourse open to scrutiny, yes, but more interestingly to me, the introvert, open to social engagement.

My son spied this soap in the McNay Museum
 gift shop on Earth Day. "Wait, I have to snap a pic of that!" I said.
I knew instantly where I wanted to share it (Twitter),
 and I did, the next day, to a rather large response for me:
 24 likes & 5 retweets (I'm not much of a tweeter).
Apparently, introverts love to talk about
how the world isn't designed for us...I know I do;)
It's such a powerful thing to be able to preserve every moment on film (really, a data cloud) or in text, and then share it with a wider audience, but I am finding myself asking the question "why do I feel the need to share this?" more and more probably because I read this fascinating article about the addictive properties of our smart phones in The Atlantic late last year. When I ask myself this question, I'm looking to clarify my motivations for sharing. Sometimes my answers are immediate: certain friend groups will find something funny/exciting/informative, or it's an important event, moment, decision that needs to reach a large number of people and social media is the easiest way to do that, or I want to promote something I think is great to a larger audience, or simply because I want to. But lately, when I am feeling compelled to share something on social media, asking myself that question comes up with a "I dunno."

As an introvert, the balance between sharing my experiences and ideas on social media and actually living and processing my life is always a little fraught. It is so amazing to be able to connect with family across the country in a heartbeat, to be able to maintain friendships from various points in my life as if everyone still lived next door, to discover new kindred spirits across the world and share our common passions and interests as well as collaborate on projects (This post will not be another one of the million rants that are out there about how social media is the end of civilization; I am definitely not in the social-media-is-evil-and-has-made-us-all-into-self-absorbed-nut-jobs crowd), but the ability to do so leaves little room for just moving thoughtfully through life, or at least it feels that way to me sometimes.

When I share my life and ideas widely, while it brings me happiness (I love seeing that folks are excited about the new coloring books that I'm working on, or that they plan to join me at my next creativity workshop:) and makes me feel connected to the world at large (who doesn't want to hear about folks' new jobs, babies, pets, greatest adventures, deepest sorrows?), it also makes me feel like I am split into a million pieces, that I am in all these places at once and nowhere at all simultaneously. I have no idea if this response to social media is common (I only have my closest confidants to discuss these matters with), but I do believe that for me this response is due to my introverted personality.

To recharge my batteries so I can be awesome with humans each day, I need solitude, plain and simple. This is true of most folks who identify as introverted. And, even though there are many who claim that social media is not the same as actual face-to-face human interaction, as an introvert, I beg to differ. A few hours spent working on social media leaves me sometimes even more emotionally and psychologically drained than spending an entire weekend with friends and family. I think this is because social media engagement has no boundaries, no timeline; our phones go with us everywhere (well, ours never come into our bedrooms) and little lights and gentle beeps and boops pop up and sound off 24 hours a day. What I felt I had the energy to share at 9:00 am one day could, theoretically, continue asking me to engage socially well into the following week.

This truth about social media for me, that it is a never ending social engagement merry-go-round, is I think, why I have recently pulled back from sharing content that I deem worthy of posting up. I have moved social media apps buttons deep within my phone's additional screens, have shut down all notifications, have changed my phone's wallpaper to be images that remind me to respect my introverted nature's need for the same firm boundaries on engagement that I place on face to face encounters, but the only thing that really helps me to avoid the overwhelm that can come with social media is to avoid in-the-moment posting and cut back on posting altogether if I am feeling drained and distracted.

I suppose engagement in the world is a delicate balance we all struggle to maintain: what to capture vs. what to allow ourselves to just live, what to share widely vs. what to allow to be a simple moment lived privately. In the end, I did not post the video clip of the green grasses swirling in the wind. Nor did I post about the great museum exhibits we saw that day or the fabulous pizza place we discovered or the hilarious cat-picture-covered shoes that I bought. I'm glad I caught all of these images and experiences on my phone, but I'm also glad that I resisted the urge to share these moments right away on any social media platform because the day unplugged was just what I needed to build up the endurance to face this week. I may share some of those images and thoughts at a later date (food pics are awesome, and well, CATS!), but it will not be before I ask myself a new question: "Do you have the emotional energy to be engaged in social media right now?" 

Friday, March 24, 2017

What Is A Feminist Coloring Party? Coloring In A Group...With A Purpose

What is a Feminist Coloring Party?

Equality never looked so good!
Feminist Coloring Party participant
Kelsey Cooper explored Tombow
Dual Brush Markers and her passion
for equal rights through coloring.
Until a month ago, I couldn't really have answered that question (For me, every coloring moment is a feminist coloring moment - my feminist lenses are permanently fixed; I couldn't take them off even if I wanted to!). But, thanks to Dr. Pam Johnston, Professor of English and Women's Studies at Texas Lutheran University, inviting me to be a part of their Women's History Month Celebration, I got to have a hand in creating an actual Feminist Coloring Party right here in Seguin, Texas where I live.

In the middle of February, Dr. Johnston approached me to see if I had any interest in being a part of an idea she had for a creative and low-key Women's History Month event: a Feminist Coloring Party. The combination of two of my biggest passions was a no-brainer for me, so I said yes straight away. The two of us began sharing ideas about what we thought would be necessary to create a Feminist Coloring Party (I just love typing that phrase, Feminist Coloring Party; it never grows old for me! #SorryNotSorry). At first we thought finding readily available feminist themed coloring pages or books would be a snap, but a brief search revealed that there were slim pickings out there for meaningful feminist coloring moments (Unless Boss Babes is your idea of feminist coloring fun, which by all mean, enjoy. The title alone left me cold, and the idea of feminist word searches and fill in the blanks mixed in with black and white caricatures of currently famous females is all together creative 'meh.' And, that's my review of that coloring book in two sentences.), so I offered up a rough sketch of an idea that popped into my mind immediately when Dr. Johnston messaged me with the invitation: a chaotic collage of sorts of all the great protest signs I'd seen in my social media feeds of the Women's March on Saturday, January 21, 2017, done up in such a way that they would be fun for folks to color.
My rough sketch of the Feminist
Coloring Party page. Really rough. This
was scratch paper I had handy that I
doodled on while I was on hold. The
Final drawing lost the humans and big
empty spaces because I had a hard
enough time limiting the number of signs
as it was & I wasn't going to lose any for
heads and shoulders!
Despite the fact that I was not able to attend the Women's March on that now famous Saturday in January, it was still incredibly powerful to watch unfold; it had affected me deeply, reigniting my spirit which had gotten crushed with the 2016 election and the goings on in Washington D.C. the first few weeks of the current administration. So many different kinds of people, from all walks of life, pulling together peacefully all over the nation to demonstrate the importance of equality, democracy, love, and freedom. That is what feminism is to me, and that was the coloring page I wanted to create: a page full of empowerment and inspiration. To my great pleasure, Dr. Johnston loved my idea, so I got to work at creating an original design for the TLU Women's Studies Feminist Coloring Party.

Typically when I draw an image for coloring, I focus mostly on shape, patterns and design, disregarding realism. I do this for a very important reason: If everything I create is fantastical, there isn't any ONE way to color it, and this leaves huge amounts of room for the colorist who comes to the page to add their own creativity without being too encumbered by mine. But, for this Feminist Coloring Party page I really wanted a bit of the real world, a bit of authenticity. Like I said, I didn't get to attend a march, and I just didn't feel right about scavenging the Internet for march photos to examine, so I put a call out on Facebook, making the post public, to all my friends about the project I was working on in hopes that folks I knew personally or who knew my friends personally might be willing to share their photos of the posters they personally carried in the march they attended. Additionally, I was really interested in the page feeling like it represented more than just Texas; there were marches all over the country, and I wanted to see just how many different marches I could get represented on the coloring page in a short period of time.

Social media truly is magical, because quickly I received images from St. Paul, Minnesota, Los Angeles and Sacramento, California, Austin and Fort Worth, Texas, Washington D.C., Montpelier, Vermont, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and Phoenix, Arizona. On top of that, I made new friends, kindred spirits if you will, who openly shared with me about their experiences at the march that day, their reasons for attending the march and for wanting to share their photos with a complete stranger. By the time I was finished collecting drawing inspiration for the coloring page I felt like I had attended the march all over the country, from warm and sunny Texas and California, to freezing and snowy Vermont and D.C. This was such a privilege and a lovely side-effect of working on this project that I hadn't anticipated. Unlike my coloring book, Doodled Blooms, which I had created more or less in a bubble of my own imagination, this coloring page was wholeheartedly a widespread collaboration.

My town, Seguin, Texas, did not have its own Women's March, but I know many folks who would have loved to have been at the march that day, including myself. To that end, I left the center sign on my coloring page blank, labelled Texas Lutheran University, Seguin, Texas. Although I do not like coloring pages that leave extra space on the page for "you to add your own ideas" (If I wanted to add my own ideas to a coloring page, I would have purchased blank drawing paper NOT a coloring book!), with this Feminist Coloring Party Women's History Month moment, it seemed appropriate to leave space for the colorist to create a sign of their own, a sign that they feel represents feminism for them, encouraging them to think and act on their creativity. It's kinda of bossy, I know, but this wasn't going to be any old coloring party, this was a Feminist Coloring Party, a coloring party with a purpose!
Work in progress by Feminist Coloring Party
participant, Danielle Grove. Her color
selection really brings the enthusiasm of the
signs to life. The mark she left on the march
with her sign captures the idea behind
social justice - it all begins small, and then
expands to improve the lives of all.

Even once I'd finished creating the page, I still really wasn't sure what a Feminist Coloring Party was going to be like, how it was going to be different from all of the other corporate coloring workshops and public library coloring clubs I'd led. So, I went into Tuesday, March 21, 2017 (exactly three months after the Women's March, which I thought was extremely cool:), a little anxious...but, my anxiety was unwarranted. You know what makes a coloring party a Feminist Coloring Party? Being in a group of like minds, clustered together for similar reasons, all looking to channel their anger, fear, frustrations, and anxieties at our current political landscape in a positive and creative way; a Feminist Coloring Party looks a lot like a Women's March, just with more coloring supplies and snacks:)

One of my favorite colorists and
human beings, my partner, Steve
Vrooman. We have had loads of
household conversations on the
Equal Rights Amendment lately
so it was awesome to see his mark
on the march honoring the
conversations we've been sharing
with our son at home:)

A wide range of ages and both genders were present at our Feminist Coloring Party, just like at the Women's March. And, our topics of conversation ranged from the political issues at hand to the versatility of Tombow Dual Brush markers (This was a coloring party after all, and folks were excited to try new coloring tools they had never been exposed to before:). Participants were quite interested to hear the creation story of the coloring page I'd created, and I was very excited to finally get to share it with its intended audience. I did so while they colored, and it was fun to watch their heads pop up as they noticed a detail here or there on the page which inspired a them to ask questions along the way (I love questions about creativity and about feminism!). They were also collectively interested as to why I placed a capitol in the center of the drawing. In answer, I started to show them the variety of the photos I had been working from, all with national and state capitols in the background, taking them on the same tour of the nation's marches that I had been on the last few weeks.

Ashlie Ford proudly displays not only
her vibrant and eye-popping coloring
but her awesome mark on the march:)
She was the first to complete the blank
sign, and I couldn't have been more
excited to see it!


Of course, participants were curious as to which sign on the page was my favorite, and I had to be honest: my favorite sign I was sent didn't make it onto the coloring page. In fact, a huge number of signs that I felt would make creative and empowering coloring moments did not make it onto the coloring page as I had such large and wonderful collection of photos to work from. It was at that moment that I decided to reveal to the Feminist Coloring Party group that based on the responses I had received online privately, I had begun to think that maybe the Women's March of 2017 warranted more than just a single coloring moment; maybe the signs of progress that were held high and proud at the Women's March of 2017 deserved an entire coloring book (It was a friend of a friend on Facebook that was the first of now many to put this bug in my ear, hitting home for me, once again, how truly inspirational the connective nature of social media can be!). It was very encouraging to hear the group's positive response to the idea of a full-sized coloring book of Women's March signs as this concept has continued to rattle around in my brain, even with the page completed, and isn't likely to go away soon; an artist always likes hearing there is a market for the art we wish to make. My hope upon the creation of this book is that I will be able to donate a portion of each book's sale to a charitable organization that works for the promotion of women's rights and creativity for all. Full-sized coloring books take a good while to create, layout and publish; my goal is to take that time to also find just the right organization to tie this coloring book to. If you, the reader, have any suggestions for me, I would really appreciate it if you left your suggestions in the comments below:)

Whether you are coloring in a group or on your own, time has a way of passing all too quickly, and the Feminist Coloring Party participants were surprised and a tad dismayed to look up at the clock and realize the allotted 50 minutes for the brown bag event had come to an end. As they were collecting their things and preparing to return to their Tuesday, I reminded them that is the gift that spending time on a creative pursuit gives us: the gift of losing track of time, that feeling of blinking and an hour has passed. Time evaporating without us being aware of it is a very difficult state of mind to enter pleasantly once we become adults, and it is one of the more powerful reasons why coloring as an adult is very therapeutic. That we spent the hour coloring and discussing the largest gathering of human beings peacefully protesting that our nation has ever seen is all the better.

Its hard to take an "action shot" of coloring. Intense creative
concentration is not all that interesting to photograph. However
one doesn't color to look interesting; one colors to have an
interesting experience:)

Dr. Johnston and I have had a little time to debrief since the event this past Tuesday, and we both agree that Feminist Coloring Parties and Feminist Coloring are a thing, not just a one-time thing. To that effect, I am including a printable PDF version of the TLU Women's Studies Feminist Coloring Party page (click HERE to download!) as a thank you gift to those who read my blog, as a promise made good for those who supported this project but were not able to attend the Feminist Coloring Party here in Seguin, Texas, and as a hope that folks will color it, feel empowered, and share about it on social media with their sign of strength and progress in the center of it. No matter what people may say about the power of social media, it is a force for change, and it is about damn time it should be channeled as a force for equality, for democracy, for love and for freedom for us all.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Color Like A Boss When You Don't Have All The Tools Needed For Masterpiece Making, Or How To Color While Traveling


As I mentioned in my last blog post, for me to be a successful traveler, I need to color. But, coloring while traveling or while staying away from my home base looks VERY different than coloring when I am in my studio with all of my awesome supplies and tools. Whether I'm traveling via car or plane, cargo space is at a premium, so I cannot pack my  Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils 150 set, my 96 set of Tombow Dual Brush Pens or even my smallest set of Staedler Fineliners, much less all my blenders and sharpeners.  What I do travel with is Koh-i-Noor Woodless Colored Pencils, and I do this for a few reasons: 1. increases in pressure or altitude don't have any effect on them (There are quite a few markers and pens on the market that don't like extreme changes in altitude or temperature, and wax core pencils also don't respond well to extreme heat or cold.), 2. their carrying case is very sturdy and compact, guaranteeing they take up little space and they won't get damaged if scrunched, 3. they are a hard pencil, so they don't need to be sharpened as often. The drawback of these beauties is that the set is only 24 colors (But, thank goodness there's a grey!), which means I have a very limited color palette to choose from when coloring on the go. Rather than be frustrated by this (Because let's face it, I want every coloring page to look cool regardless of where I colored it, and yes, I'm aware that that desire stinks rather strongly of perfectionism - I'm working on that, and that's all I have to say on that right now.), I've learned to lean on the following four techniques because they allow me to make the most out of my coloring-while-traveling experiences.

INCREASING & DECREASING HAND PRESSURE

Because I don't like to travel with color blenders (They are entirely made of wax and melt easily.), I like to utilize the fact that every page of a coloring book is loaded with a very vibrant white. I do this by paying attention to how much pressure I put onto my pencil, graduating color out or in and ignoring whether or not I am absolutely covering the white space totally with color . It allows for the effect of light and shadow to be a part of my coloring page without the use of all of the many shades of a particular color and the blender to pull those colors together.

I had very few colors to work with on this Mandala from
Mystical Mandalas, but by graduating pressure in and out
along the lines of the image, I achieved an effect of movement
I rather like:)
To achieve an effect like this, you must color in a circular fashion instead of the up and down style that folks typically attack a coloring page with. Additionally, having your pencil more or less on the dull side makes achieving the soft edges without noticeable streak marks much easier. Using this technique on a coloring page with teeny tiny spaces is a bit more frustrating (Unless you have achieved the supreme mental state of being able to comfortably color outside of the lines, which if you have, AWESOME! I bow down to your wisdom and centered-ness, truly!), so I like to find images with shapes and spaces that lend themselves to this style when I travel.

COLOR LAYERING

This simple trick is exactly what the name suggests it is: layering one color on top of another. How do you choose which colors to layer? That's entirely up to the effect you wish to create. If you're looking to create depth, begin with the lighter of your colors, and then slowly add darker colors to muddy the image. If you're looking to create an appearance of light, softly color with your darkest color, and then go over that with a brighter color using more pressure from your hand. The trick is to experiment because color layering is essentially color mixing without the ability to truly incorporate the colors fully. You never know what you're going to create until you just give it a try.

This vibrant coloring was done by my partner, Steve. He has zero fear in coloring,
so color layering is one of his favorite techniques regardless of how many
coloring tools he has at his disposal. Here he splashed color upon color to
achieve a spacey effect in one of his favorite coloring books,
Creative Haven Skyscapes.

With coloring layering, it is really helpful to have both a white and a black colored pencil on hand to adjust the value of the color mixture that you make. I honestly rarely use my white colored pencils UNLESS I am color layering. Weird, I know, but white is my least favorite color of them all.

COLOR BUILDING

At first glance, color building looks like color layering, but there is a subtle difference. When color building, instead of putting different colors on top of each other, you begin with a single color and then slowly build other colors AROUND the original color.

My son, Sam, frequently color builds as he is a quick
colorist and prefers to "get it done" as it were, rather than
to go over a coloring with a blender. I really love what he did
with this cactus image from the coloring book The Cactus Coloring Book,
and so did others - he won a coloring contest with this coloring:)
If you want the appearance of brightness on your page, begin with your lightest, brightest color, and surround it slowly with darker, contrasting shades. Reversing that order will also get you an interesting look as well as the appearance of colors morphing as they travel along an object. Just like with color layering, color building takes a willingness to experiment and be okay with unexpected results. Taking these kinds of risks can be challenging for folks who are perfectionists (And, I'm the leader of that fabulous pack, let me tell you!), but coloring while traveling is a risk in and of itself (Will you have adequate light? Will there be a flat, hard surface? Will people leave you alone long enough to enjoy yourself? These are all unknowns you just have to face when coloring while traveling.), so adding just a little more intensity to that creative jump isn't really all that much of a big deal really.

HATCH MARKS & SWIRLS 

Not having all the shades of every color can be really frustrating and tempt an avid colorist to over-pack, especially if you enjoy coloring in realistically drawn coloring books. But, you do NOT need all your greys, browns, blues and greens, seriously! You may have to enlarge the picture below to see the detail, but the trick I use to color realistic images while traveling is to utilize some pencil drawing techniques.

I typically am not a huge fan of coloring realistic image or human
beings, but I adore my Sherlock Holmes: The Hounds of the Baskervilles
coloring book! It's a totally awesome nerd experience to color
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's work:)

To create shadow or texture, I draw hatch lines (look closely at Watson's hat, tie and jacket in the top panel) or cross hatches (the sky in the bottom panel) either lightly in black or more intensely with a darker shade or pressure of the color I put down originally in the space. And, using gentle and chaotic swirls in large featureless shapes is a fun way to create a more interesting look when you have few colors to choose from (zoom in on the shrubbery in the bottom panel). Both of these methods could also look super cool if used in the pattern-based coloring books that are popular right now.

I think in a former life I must have been a turtle because I really and truly wish that I could bring my entire house with me every time life provides me with the opportunity to travel. Leaving behind all of my art supplies and my cats is really emotionally difficult for me to do. But, my cats are even worse travelers than I am, and I have a whole room in my house devoted to creativity, so logistically speaking, I can't always get what I want, and some things are going to have to be left behind at home. But, I am an Aries, as stubborn as they come and used to getting her way (or at least a portion of it), which is probably why I stumbled upon these little tricks to help me make the most of my coloring time no matter where I was. My hope is that these little pro-tips will be useful to other colorists as well both in their figurative and literal journeys:)

The coloring books that travel with me are always
changing from journey to journey, but this set of
Koh-i-Noor Woodless Colored Pencils and my
T'Gaal Pencil Sharpener have traveled far and wide.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Coloring Is Magic, Or How I Get From Point A To Point B With Travel Anxiety

by Michelle M. Johnson

I don't like to travel.

Wait, that isn't a detailed enough sentence.

Traveling makes me feel like I am going to die for hours and hours and hours.

That isn't to say I don't adore being in new places, seeing new things (I draw the line at having new experiences - not all of those are good, so I always prefer to do my research on those.), especially museums, architecture, vistas, libraries, mountains, rivers, oceans, parks, breweries, vineyards, zoos (Have I mentioned the depth of my nerdom?). But, I do not take any pleasure in getting there. In fact, just thinking about traveling makes my heart rate pick up speed and pressure.

Why on Earth would I be writing about travel then? To write about something is definitely to think about it. I'm writing about it because it is all I can think about since the opportunity to visit New York City and to see my son perform at Carnegie Hall (yes, THAT Carnegie Hall) presented itself, and my knee jerk reaction to all that was "hell, no!" But, that response wasn't acceptable to me (This is my son's dream come true; I gotta see this in person!), to my nerd core (Omigawd - I'm gonna get to visit M.O.M.A., the New York Library, The Met, The American Museum of Natural History, and stroll through Central Park, the setting of like every movie I've ever loved - Piggy gave Gregory Hines the huggies in Central Park!) or my vision of what it means to age (I'm 43 - too young to have such limitations.).

I didn't always used to be this way. I have never been a traveler (and, yes, I know planes are safer than automobiles, mass transit better than having your own car, yada, yada, yada. I am devastatingly claustrophobic - to catch up on that read this post, please), but I used to be able to get from point A to point B, even if I didn't like it very much. When I was younger I had to have to travel frequently as I attended college out of state; I flew no fewer than 4-6 times a year (I count EVERY departure/arrival as a flight - going up and coming down affect me the most dramatically, so I count every one of those as flying.). But, once I graduated, got married and life happened, travel became less frequent. I have a very vivid imagination and I love cinema, so I have never been one of those folks who've had "bucket lists" full of destinations they need to mark off to feel that their life has been well lived. In many ways, I envy those folks a bit - I'd like to be able to say that I dream of going on safari, swimming in crystal clear Caribbean waters, climbing tall peaks, or shopping in colorful bazaars, but I don't. I don't plan vacations or surf tourism websites. I am very satisfied having a well-prepared picnic in a local park, and if I read about a momentous Indian summer in a far off locale or watch about it on the big screen, I feel like I've been there if the writing and cinematography is good.

This trip to NYC has been looming over me for months, silently taunting me "You can't do this; what the hell were you thinking?," but now that it is just around the corner, I have noticed my stress and anxiety levels about the travel increasing, a solid night's sleep getting harder to find, my brain buzzing off task more and more frequently, and my patience for anyone or anything deteriorating at an alarming rate (I've been apologizing...a lot.). This has to stop. I'm going to New York City. On a plane. And, there's probably going to be some subways thrown into the mix (who's big idea was it to make travel go under ground!?!). Oh, and snow, there might be snow.

How the hell did I used to travel?!?!

That's what I asked myself recently, out loud, in front of my partner, Steve. "You colored," he rudely replied (I was obviously having a private conversation with myself.).

Whaat?! I was dumbfounded that my brain had forgotten this about myself - I colored in order to travel (Thank the Maker, I don't get airsick!)! I used to have a travel box of crayons, a special book and everything (a book that is STILL on my bedroom bookshelf, thank heavens!)! Beginning in the fall of 1992, I would color in Sark's Inspiration Sandwich, a book that had been given to me by a kindred spirit, every time I had to board a plane.
It saddens me that this book is
no longer in print:(
And while I don't think the book was created with the intention of being colored, it sure as hell lent itself to being decorated by my crayons. I honestly can't even remember much about what is written in the book because I only cracked it open on airplanes for fear that its travel magic would run out, and I only paid attention to the lines I was trying to fill in with the colors from my 24 pack of Crayolas. If I did this, I could pretend that I wasn't trapped inside a metal box that I wasn't allowed, under any circumstances, to escape from (I do not ask to be seated by the emergency exit, and this is for the safety of all on board the flight.). The drawings are very free form, almost inviting you to color outside the lines, which is perfect as turbulence is a royal pain in the ass for creating coloring masterpieces.
Based on my caption on this
page, I imagine some crazy
bumping and boiling took
place on this flight.
The book also has this great little section for scrap-booking bits of your life that make you feel happy and centered:) How this book did not end up with the title READ THIS IN ORDER TO NOT TO LOSE YOUR SHIT WHILE SUFFERING TRAVEL ANXIETY I will never know.

How did I forget this vital piece of information about myself?! I colored in order to travel. My blog is called HAVE COLOR, WILL TRAVEL, for crying out loud. But, in my defense, I really have only traveled by car for the last 10 years, packing along with me what I call my "fun bag" full of coloring books, coloring tools, reading material and drawing/writing supplies, all meant to be used upon arrival, not during transit (I do get carsick); the bag settles my nerves about being somewhere out of my control, but does nothing for my nerves about traveling to get there (It's all about the verbs, folks!). I had forgotten how effective coloring was at helping me get from place to place! I have been encouraging folks to use coloring to focus their minds and express their creativity, but the history of my use of coloring is completely different. I've used coloring to distract myself, to divert my attention, to shut down my overactive imagination.

But, my "fun bag" is not TSA friendly or easy to lug around NYC, so I have permitted myself a couple of "Treat Yo'self" purchases recently, all with the thought that it is money well spent if it gets me where I need to be in one piece. First up, this totally awesome, waaay not for my age demographic, backpack:
Look at all these cool stickers!
There's even a pineapple!!
I'm calling it my "Super Fun, I Can Travel" bag:)
I love it!!!
It is the perfect size to hold just enough anti-anxiety stuff and not make me feel like my spine is going to collapse. The second thing I indulged in (but I really don't see as an indulgence, it's more of a necessity...but I can't eat it, so...it might be perceived as indulgent by some) is Jenny Lawson's newest book You Are Here: An Owner's Manual For Dangerous Minds, which I have been excited about for about a year, and just so happens to be...wait for it...A Coloring Book!! Inspiration Sandwich is definitely coming with me to the Big Apple (now that I've dusted it off!), but how I've been feeling lately means that this journey is going to require the big guns. I need more than one book to keep me from hurting others or myself, to keep me having color, having travel, and having a safe time.

All this is to say that when I started this blog and named it HAVE COLOR WILL TRAVEL I promised to reveal why I chose the name that I did, and here you have it - coloring is magic. 

It isn't really, I know that, but anything that helps you get from point A to point B, helps you live the life you want to live AND not hurt yourself or those around you, is pretty damn epic. That my little flying feather is cheap and legal is all the better (Yes, that was a Dumbo reference. 10 points if you got it right away.).

I still can't believe that I had forgotten how I used to manage to get myself on planes (Brains really are devilish little boogers, more interested in our pain than our perseverance.), but I am really glad that I had someone around me that remembered how my 19 year old self problem solved. Because this person in the picture below in my copy of Inspiration Sandwich, THAT is the real me, not the me who has been waking up in the middle of the night, brain on fire, heart rate thundering, thinking "I can't do this, I can't do this" over and over. True, that gal in the photo is barely 20 years old, but she colored to travel, and so do I:)
In case you're wondering, this amazing place pictured
is Sedona, Arizona, the most beautiful place on Earth, IMHO.
 I didn't have to fly to get there, but I did have
to drive in a van loaded with 10 people for a really long time,
 and that's pretty much the same thing;)








Saturday, February 11, 2017

Politics Creating Family Tension? I Suggest Forming A Book Club

by Michelle M. Johnson

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about a long-distance book club I was forming with my mother in hopes of healing the emotional distance that had come between us in the aftermath of the 2016 United States Presidential election (click here to read the original post). Because of the response that I received to that post in the comments section of my blog, online in social media and in private messages, I felt like a follow-up on how the club was progressing was in order. Here goes:)

To begin with, I don't know that there could have been a better book for me to have chosen for this project than Nicola Yoon's The Sun Is Also A Star.

I just love this cover:)
This book eloquently takes a close look at race, racism, immigration, family, personal history's effects on personal choice, what it means to be an American, and where love and personal responsibility fit into all of these areas, and it does this all through the lens of a single day in the life of two very disparate teenagers who live in New York City. I'm not a fan of giving away too much plot detail in book reviews, so that synopsis is all you're going to get from me. Given how our current administration has begun their four years in the White House, I feel strongly that this book should be required reading for, well, everybody.

The book is barely 300 pages, so my mother and I agreed to split the reading up into 100 pages a week for three weeks. We settled in for our book club meetings on Sunday afternoons, and these took place via phone, usually lasting close to 2 hours, much longer than our typical phone conversations. After our very first meeting, I knew that I had struck upon an idea we both were going to enjoy and learn from. My mother, who typically reads genre fiction and, more often than not, mysteries, seemed to have her imagination turned on by the structure of this book, which bounces between the two main characters, Daniel and Natasha, but also dabbles for brief moments into the consciousnesses of peripheral characters that just happen to be in the right (or wrong) place at the wrong (or right) time in these teenagers' lives. I was worried that the structure would seem odd and confusing to my mom, but instead it brought up all these memories my mother had of her childhood growing up in a mining town, a town that was incredibly racially and socially segregated. And, she shared these memories with me freely for most of our first meeting. I listened with an open and eager heart about her life and the lives of my grandparents in this town, how they moved through this society, how it affected them. When she started to draw parallels between her life and the book we were reading, well, I can't tell you how happy this made me. I love to talk about books and how they apply or don't apply to our lives; that I got to do this with my mother was a dream come true.

As our reading went along, I think we both began to look forward to our Sunday afternoon book club chats (and as a person who LOATHES being on that phone, that is saying a lot about how much this project meant to me). During our second club meeting my mom revealed to me that she had shared with her friends our little experiment, and she asked "Michelle, is this a children's book?" This question gave me a lovely opportunity to explain to my mom about the Young Adult phenomenon in publishing, which then led us to chat about authors, genres, taboo topics, and the misconceptions of many adults about the publishing industry and the place of libraries in contemporary society. Needless to say, it was an awesome conversation. At the end of our second club meeting, we made our predictions about how the book was going to end. I do not want to share those sentiments with readers here as they reveal too much about the book. But, what I will say is that my mother was very adamant that she new exactly how the book had to end. I, on the other hand, had no idea where the author was going to lead us (a place I like being in when I am 100 pages out from the end, a place that makes me feel like an author is worth the pages their words are written on). I found that extreme difference in our readings truly fascinating and wondered if it would have an impact on how we read the last 100 pages of the book.

Our third and final club meeting on The Sun Is Also A Star probably yielded our most tense and honest conversations of the entire process. And, I think that had more to do with the events that transpired in our country during that week than it had to do with us as readers. This book isn't ONLY about immigration in the United States, but you take out the subject of immigration in the U.S. and what you're left with is no story; NOT talking about the stance of our new administration on immigration just wasn't an option for our club meeting IF we were to actually continue engaging with the book as we had done the previous two meetings. And, this was the moment when I decided that books are magic as I know truly that there is no way I would have brought up the topic of immigration to my mother on purpose post election 2016 were it not for the fact that we were reading this book together, and I know for a fact that my mother would not have engaged with me as deeply as she did on this issue were it not for the fact that we both had decided that we wanted to be in a book club together. That is all I am going to say about the end of this beautiful book because I want as many people as possible to read this novel and experience it fresh for themselves - spoilers are evil.

When I decided to send my mother a book that I knew next to nothing about a month ago for her birthday, I had zero expectations that the flow of communication and ideas between the two of us would improve. In fact, if I'm honest, I anticipated that maybe things might get even worse between us, as I knew our current administration intended to lead our country down a dark path, one that was going dig an even greater divide between "conservatives" and "liberals", whatever those two words even mean because, as Inigo Montoya said to Vizzini:

I couldn't resist a meme of The Princess Bride.
#SorryNotSorry
So, I am incredibly pleased to report that giving my mother and I something to talk about other than politics did in fact lead us to have better, healthier, and more productive conversations about politics, conversations where we were actually communicating, actually listening to each other. Are we saving the world by being a part of a book club for two? Of course not. But, are we making our own worlds a little better by being a little better to each other during this time in our lives? Most definitely, and I think that will make us both better citizens of our unique and beautiful county. I was especially glad to hear that there was a quite a long list of her friends waiting to borrow her copy of The Sun Is Also A Star. Maybe our ability to engage in intelligent and mature conversation about the tough issues our country is facing will spread. I'm an idealist, so I need to believe that it will.

I asked my mom if she wanted to continue our long distance book club now that we had finished reading Nicola Yoon's book. She didn't even hesitate for a moment to answer, "yes." I have been wanting to read When Breath Becomes Air  by Paul Kalanithi ever since I read a moving review of the book when it was first published, so I think this will be our next selection for our long-distance book club. I have been afraid to read this book up to this point as I thought it would be too emotionally difficult to undertake alone; thanks to my mom, I don't have to.

I come by my bookworm-i-ness naturally:)



Saturday, January 21, 2017

Five Reasons Why Coloring Is Therapeutic, Or How I Discovered That All The Hype About Adult Coloring Was Indeed True

by Michelle M. Johnson

When the "adult coloring craze" started a few years ago, I have to be honest, I was a little skeptical of all of the reporting going on in the media:

COLORING IS THERAPEUTIC!
 COLORING IS CALMING!
 COLORING IS HEALING!
COLORING REDUCES STRESS!
 COLORING IS GOING TO SAVE THE WORLD!

I made that last one up, but you see what I mean, right? Pretty hyperbolic, is what I thought, and I've been a life-long colorist (FYI, that is the official term for a person who engages in the coloring of coloring book pages, colorist. Not surprisingly, Adult Coloring is developing a language of its own not necessarily to legitimize itself [Hello, coloring is legitimate - the world IS coloring, and there is LOADS of proof.], but to be able to eloquently engage in discussion about the act of coloring without the use of ridiculous and juvenile sounding words like "colorer.")! I should have been the first one to jump on this Adult-Coloring-Is-Awesome train, but I was rather reluctant due in large part because most of the articles circling about weren't providing any real support for these claims or showing any real strategies about how to go about achieving these health benefits. Mostly, these articles displayed pretty pictures and links to various coloring books and supplies alongside a few quotes from folks (usually publishers) about why they thought coloring was growing in popularity.

Oddly enough, during this eruption of Adult Coloring, I myself was actually in the process of creating a coloring book (To check out my coloring book, Doodled Blooms, on Amazon, click here. Hey, I had to put that in there to show my coloring cred; do with it as you will.). It was the publication of my coloring book which then led me to leading monthly Adult Coloring clubs at libraries, which led me to researching answers to all of the participants' many questions on coloring ("How do I choose a page?" "How can I stop using blue? I always choose blue!" "How do I choose which color to use?" "How can I finish this all in one sitting?" "I don't have any yellows! How can I color this sunflower without yellow?" These questions of the library clubs' participants have been the guiding force in my work helping folks with their creativity. When someone asks "How do I...?" you don't just say, "You just do it." Questions about creativity demand steps from which to bounce off of, I think, otherwise my answers to their questions will only frustrate, killing all chance at creative enjoyment.), which led me to leading workshops on coloring and creativity, which led me to believe that maybe there really is some truth to those claims that coloring has therapeutic benefits. I have been teaching/leading groups of adults in coloring for almost a year now, and in that time I have observed these five very specific ways coloring is more than just a childhood pastime having a renewed moment in the spotlight. 

1. Coloring forces you to slow down.
We live in a world where people believe that multi-tasking is a real thing (it isn't) and something to be lauded ("Why read a book, have a conversation, finish a project, cook a meal, answer an email, tend to your pet one thing at a time, when you could do them all at once?! It's totally possible, if you're amazing enough and don't need to breathe in order to stay alive! Try it, you'll love it!"). And, it is this emphasis on GET MORE DONE RIGHT NOW that leads our brains to feel constantly busy, buzzing with the more we could be getting done, obsessively focusing on the places we are going next rather than observing and being present in the place we currently are.

Training your eyes on a specific and
sometimes small space has the benefit
of drowning out all other distractions,
even to the point that when I
lead coloring workshops, I frequently
have to remind participants to breathe. 
Coloring demands your focus, demands the lion's share of your attention. You cannot multi-task while coloring (Unless you count having a meaningful conversation with the folks you might be coloring with, in which case I have four reasons why coloring is therapeutic, not five.), and while your brain may be thinking about your to-do list while you color (I have been guilty of this many times), it still is allowing you to focus on this to-do list in a much more centered way as your hands and eyes focus on filling in the white space between black lines; thoughts tend to be completed instead of interrupted when coloring, which I have found to be very therapeutic to buzzing, over-busy minds. Since beginning my work leading groups of folks in coloring and creativity, I have heard time and time again how coloring is helping participants slow down, think through problems and challenges, and "re-set" or "clear" their minds, and I think the reason for this is a colorist's inability to simultaneously color AND do anything else.

2. Coloring forces us to make decisions and live with them even when we don't like the outcome.
I am using the word "force" quite a lot in this blog post, but when it comes to something being therapeutic, sometimes we need to be forced into doing what is best for us in order to feel better. We live in a world full choices (Just take a trip down the pain reliever or breakfast cereal isle at your local grocery store for proof of this fact.), so many in fact that sometimes it feels like we've created an environment where living with one's choice, good or bad, just isn't something we have to do anymore; there is always a way out, always another option, another choice. Not so in coloring - once you've chosen a color and laid it down on the page, there it is. Don't like how it turned out? Tough.
I thought that I had completely
ruined this coloring by starting out
the background in yellow:( But,
I persevered and accepted my
decision, eventually coming to an
emotional space where I was very
well pleased with the end result. I
made a mistake, and the world didn't
come to an end. Shocker.
Crayons, markers and colored pencils don't come with do-overs, so when you make a decision you don't like you can either A. live with it and see where your coloring page ends up (what I always suggest first) or B. acknowledge you made a choice you don't like and turn the page. The reason why I always recommend going with option A. is that in coloring (as well as in life) sometimes what we initially perceive is a mistake is actually a detour in our vision that leads us to a really pleasant outcome. We can never learn anything about coloring or ourselves without making choices, and we will never learn from our choices if we never allow ourselves to make and live with a mistake. But, the word "mistake" is so full of shame in our culture that I have come to rely on a saying in my coloring workshops: "In coloring, there is no such thing as a mistake; there is only the direction you go with a choice you didn't exactly feel awesome about." Some of the greatest colorings (FYI, "coloring" is the name for a finished coloring book page, no matter what spellcheck says.) are the results of a choice the colorist chose to live with. Adult coloring encourages us to make decisions; creativity helps us to figure out how to live with the choices we make.

3. Coloring helps us to understand a bit more about ourselves.
One of the most intriguing things I have encountered while leading adult coloring workshops is observing that there are more or less three kinds of people in this world: 1. folks who love coloring with markers 2. folks who love coloring with pencils and 3. folks who color with it all. While this may seem like a "duh" factor, hear me out.
While it may seem ridiculous, my experience
leading coloring groups has shown me
that you can learn a lot about yourself by
observing which coloring tools you are
the most comfortable with.
Coloring with markers is, by far, the quickest way to finish a coloring page, BUT you do not have the same flexibility to create depth and texture with markers as you would with other coloring tools. Coloring with pencils can be a painstaking process BUT the colorist has considerably more control over where the color goes, how much color is used at once, and to what effect the color creates light, shade and texture. Coloring with a variety of coloring tools leaves a page open to unexpectedly awesome results, but mixing media can also result in experiments gone awry - paper torn through with too much moisture, pencil marks smeared across the sheen of waxy crayons, etc. In encouraging folks to try all kinds of coloring tools, I have been honored to witness folks making observations about themselves and their personalities: Marker folks have observed that they have a serious need to complete something in one sitting, and unless they have the time to complete something they enjoy, they will not allow themselves to begin a project; Pencil folks have been recognizing their need for control in their creative process, they need to know exactly how something is going to turn out before they begin, otherwise they won't create; Mixed Media folks have been noticing that they aren't really that concerned about the end product of their coloring so much as the process of coloring itself because they don't really think they are "all that creative", they don't really "have a vision." All of which leads me to my next point on why coloring is indeed therapeutic.

4. Coloring can reveal challenging aspect of our personalities.
Many of the people who bring themselves to the coloring workshops I lead come with the hopes of working on some challenging personality traits: perfectionism, completionism (I don't think it's possible that I have coined this word or its cousin, completionist, but both are not recognized by spell-check, which I think is ridiculous because completionism is totally a thing. Every time I talk about completionism in my workshops there are always sighs and grunts of agreement about the struggles of being a completionist. And, interestingly enough, completionism knows no gender lines; men and women, in my teaching experience, are equally completionistic, especially those who actively perceive themselves as "creative."), and a perceived lack of creativity. Perfectionists tend to be more comfortable working with colored pencils as they are the most predictable of coloring tools, never bleeding surprisingly, never smearing unexpectedly, creating a page exactly as they had envisioned. Completionists are drawn to using markers because finishing a page in a single coloring session is totally possible, so the anxiety that comes with leaving something undone is never a concern. Folks who feel they are lacking in creativity tend to choose all sorts of coloring tools, applying crayons in one section, markers in another, pencils mixed here and there, often times voicing to me that they "have no idea what they are doing" and that they are "just not that creative." Why coloring is therapeutic in these instances leads me to my last and final point.

5. Coloring provides a low-cost, risk free arena to step out of our comfort zones.
I suppose I shouldn't be surprised at how confessional the coloring workshops that I lead end up being, but consistently folks enter into the creative chaos that is coloring in a group voicing concerns about their perfectionism, their completionistic tendancies, and their perceived lack of creativity. Folks who come to coloring, in my experience, WANT to improve in these areas, but making big leaps to step outside of their comfort zones (trying something they know they aren't good at, starting a huge project they aren't sure they're going to finish, attempting to create something even though they don't "have a vision") is not only scary but can also be very expensive. For less than $20 (Or even for free if you have well supplied Adult Coloring Clubs like we do here at the libraries in Seguin & New Braunfels, Texas), a perfectionist can get practice at starting (and following through) on something they perceive themselves as not good at, a completionist can try a complicated page or use coloring tools that requires more time so that they can get practice leaving something "unfinished," and a self-perceived "uncreative" can allow themselves the opportunity to play and make absolutely creative mistakes that wind up being inspired coloring choices, slowly building up the confidence to see that creativity isn't really a personality trait you have or don't have, but a state of mind that anyone can choose to entertain.
The Seguin Public Library's
Adult Coloring Club where all
supplies are provided & all you
need to do is show up. Call your
area library to see if such a
group exists in your town.
All of these risks take place in adult coloring all of the time, and when folks share about these coloring risks they take either in face to face groups like the ones we have here or in online coloring forums on Facebook or Instagram, typically what I have witnessed is real support, encouragement and camaraderie. It is that acceptance, I think, that helps us make the occasional leap from risking emotionally and psychologically with coloring to taking similar creative risks in our day-to-day lives, creating the overall therapeutic effect of adult coloring.

When I first started sharing with folks about coloring a year ago, talking about and showing the "how to" and the "with what," I really didn't understand or really believe in the "why." I certainly don't know why I had continued coloring long past my elementary school days; it was just something I never stopped doing. But, in learning how to share my enthusiasm for coloring and all of its experimentation, I have stumbled upon the answer - we color because it is enjoyable, and through the experience of that enjoyment our minds remember how to play, and in that play we take risks, and through those risks we re-discover our creative selves, and when the time comes for us to put our books, pencils and markers away, we realize that we feel more at ease, we can find our breath without looking, and we have the energy to start the next day.

A free Doodled Blooms coloring page just for
you:) Thank you for reading the
Have Color Will Travel blog; you're awesome!
Coloring is indeed therapeutic, but don't take my word for it; try it out for yourself by clicking here for a free, downloadable, full resolution coloring page from my coloring book, Doodled Blooms. I hope you will take a few risks with this page should you decide to download it, and that you will share with me the results of your experimentation whether or not the coloring worked out the way you planned. You can always find me on Facebook by searching Doodled Blooms, on Instagram with @doodledblooms or Twitter with @mj_flowergirl.