”Give crayons. Adults are disturbingly impoverished of these magical dream sticks.” – Dr. Sun Wolf
When I was a kid, bliss was a fresh new box of Crayolas, pointy tops intact, and a new coloring book, the pages unsullied by sibling scrawling. A pristine coloring book, no matter what its theme, presented so many possibilities. Would I choose Cinderella in her ball gown? Donald and Daisy in their jalopy? Archie, Veronica and Betty in the soda shop? Once I decided on a page, I’d open my box of Crayolas, inhale their delicious waxy scent, and pluck out just the right shade to bring the page to brilliant, vibrant life.
Around fifth grade, I moved on to Venus-Paradise Pencil Color-By-Number. This was a bit more grown-up. Instead of crayons that ended up as flat-topped nubbins stripped of their paper labels, Paradise Pencils were sophisticated wooden tapers of color, and could be sharpened as needed. The art selections were mature and intricate. No Snow White, no Bugs Bunny, no Heckle and Jeckel; instead, there were bucolic barn scenes, close-up portraits of collies, and stalwart stallions on the western plains – my personal favorite. Ever the rule-follower, I diligently colored in each numbered section appropriately. Still, my end product looked more blotched than shaded, but I squinted at it to see the various shades of green or tan blur into a somewhat Impressionistic effect.
I assumed that my coloring days were long over, until I heard about the popularity burst of adult coloring books. The new books are intricate, beautiful, and absorbing. Coloring fans find this low-tech pastime relaxing and creative, and some psychologists are touting its health benefits as well. Books are flying off the shelves at Amazon; colorers are forming local clubs. Wow! This craze was right up my alley.
On my birthday, I received two beautiful books, Secret Paris: Coloring your Way to Calm, by Zoe de las Cases and Creative Coloring for Grown-Ups; Beautiful Patterns, and a set of twenty-four Cretacolor pencils. I dove into the Paris book and landed on a page of beaux chapeaux. I contemplated each hat. A soft blue for the cloche? A subtle buff for the Fedora? A pink rose on the green wide-brimmed vagabond? How about a jaunty orange ribbon on the sunhat? I delighted in designing every millinery masterpiece, from the understated gray beret to the flashy purple and emerald number.
I’ve never learned to knit, I don’t like pulling weeds, my cooking is lackadaisical, and I can’t play a piano. But coloring? This I can do. On to my next little gem – a whimsical threesome of wildly-patterned birds. Could it be suitable for framing? We’ll see.