By Dara Weyna
Do you remember the last time you sat down for a much-needed break and grabbed your coloring book?
Welcome to the newest craze in finding your center while losing yourself in the moment. Move over yoga, adult coloring books are here.
As an artist, I have always found creative fulfillment by letting my ideas flow through line and color onto a surface in the form of drawing. I know the personal, often hard to articulate benefits of releasing the creative impulse. It, therefore, excites me to see that others are finding ways to do the same, through the highly-popular medium of coloring.
Thanks in part to the wildly-successful book, Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book by illustrator, Johanna Basford, which has sold over 2 million copies worldwide, the coloring book market has skyrocketed. Dover Publisher’s “Creative Haven” line, launched in 2012 has sold over 3 million books and has helped to create a massive, new, industry category. Walk into any bookstore, box store, or even grocery store, these days and, sure enough, you will find a section devoted to coloring books.
Since we rely so heavily on technology in our fast-paced and stressful world, it is crucial to find non-digital ways to eliminate stress and maintain a calm mind and body. This is one reason why the “old-school” trend of coloring has become so enticing.
Group coloring sessions are sprouting up all over the country in libraries, recreation-centers and amongst friends in their homes. According to former Bay Area artist and popular coloring book author, Lisa Congdon, “It’s a fun way to socialize while ‘making art’ and it doesn’t require a lot of concentration, so you can chat or have a glass of wine while you’re doing it.” It allows for creative expression because coloring evokes the nostalgia of childhood.
When children create, they do so without fear or intimidation. They go forth in the freedom of pure expression because they haven’t yet been conditioned to “stay in the lines” or to only color things as they may be seen with their eyes. So, their pages are filled with blue cats, orange trees, pink trucks…and purple grass. It was the inspiration of my son’s own colorful interpretation of a nature scene that led me to choose the title, “The Grass Can Be Purple” for my first coloring book.
While creating line-drawn Valentine’s Day cards as a fundraiser for my son’s school, I began thinking about turning the images into actual, full-size, coloring pages. Many friends were sharing articles on the adult coloring-book craze with me on Facebook and when people saw my illustrations they began encouraging me to create a book of my own. The timing of this encouragement was perfect as it was a very stressful time for me personally, and I found that drawing and coloring were some of the best ways to calm my anxiousness and diffuse my frustration. Experiencing the benefits of this activity made me want to offer the same service of healing to others. In the future, I intend to organize group coloring sessions at our teen and senior centers in the hopes of bringing our communities together through this fun and rewarding creative activity.
Once I committed to making the book, I began drawing images that appealed to me: abstract nature forms, floral and paisley patterns, underwater scenes and other designs inspired by my appreciation of global elements from India, Scandinavia and Mexico. Many of the pages in the book are a synthesis of drawings or paintings that I had already done in the past. Some of the work is very loose and organic…swirling curly-cues and vines, whimsical flowers and leaves. Other drawings are much more symmetrical or have a lot of repeated patterns. I love knowing that others will make these pages into their own unique piece of art, turning the final product into a creative collaboration.
When I was a young girl, I would sit for hours with my box of Crayolas and large sheets of paper that my dad would bring home from his office. I’ve always had an insatiable desire to make things and a deep appreciation and admiration for things that are made by hand. I work in printmaking, jewelry making, crochet, needlepoint, watercolor and acrylic painting, to name a few, but drawing and coloring have been my very first artistic love. Now, 40 years later, it is a rewarding,
full-circle joy to be liberating this childlike creativity again for myself and for others.
I invite you to join me in the fun and relaxing practice of coloring. Come, embrace an activity where you can let go of perfectionism and make your own rules. Mistakes are a part of the process and can become “happy accidents.” Let your hand take your mind and body to a relaxed and restorative place. Release your inner child and hush the voice that tells you it’s just about “staying in the lines.” Revisit your childhood and let your color choices be influenced by your mood or desire. After all, who says the grass can’t be purple?
Dara Weyna is a mom and artist from American Canyon. Her book, “The Grass Can Be Purple: 24 unique illustrations for creative coloring” is available at:
The Napa Bookmine
Online: http://www.etsy.com/shop/CoffeeandLilacsLove (free shipping for locals)
In person (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Follow her @ facebook.com/coffeeandlilacs to see more work and to join in future coloring events.