While out running errands today, I heard on the radio that “Coloring Books for Adults” are “all the rage” now.
That was the first I’ve ever heard of such a thing. Coloring books for adults?
Okay, let’s get the obvious questions out of the way.
Exactly what’s inside of these … “Coloring Books for Adults?” And are these books the same thing as … “Adult Coloring Books?”
I think not. I mean, you decide which you’d think would be more fun.
I can picture grown women enjoying coloring books, but for some reason, I can’t picture a grown, responsible man doodling away in a coloring book. I mean, can you imagine riding the subway into work and the guy sitting next to you is preoccupied with a coloring book?
This is strange given the fact that there are so many male visual artists out there. In fact, I’ve interviewed far more male artists than female artists. So why would it be strange to see a grown man enjoying a coloring book?
I recall loving coloring books back when I was a kid. There was something about them that was so satisfying. They gave me a sense of ordered creativity … sort of like, “Creativity for Dummies.”
Oh my God … Do you remember back in the early days of coloring books? Back then, coloring books were basically pacifiers for kids who could walk and talk. If you wanted to quiet a kid down, you gave him a “coloring book.” It was such a healthy – and wonderfully effective - option.
These days, if you want to shut a kid up, you give him Ritalin.
But here was the troubling thing about coloring books back in the day. Teachers and parents often seemed to use them as indicators of development and future behavior. I mean, back in the day, if you were a kid who liked to color outside of the lines …
SHOCK! HORROR! COMMUNIST IN THE MAKING!
You’d be lucky if you didn’t get pulled into the principal’s office for a good, long psychiatric evaluation. I once had a work colleague who told me that one day that’s exactly what happened to him.
Jack told me that one day he was in class enjoying his coloring book. He said at one point, his teacher came over to him and took a look at what he was doing. Horrified, she looked at Jack and said, “Please come with me.”
Jack’s teacher literally dragged him to the principal’s office where they questioned him about the coloring book. Keep in mind, Jack was telling me this story numerous decades later. Here’s basically what Jack said …
“They questioned me about why I was only using ‘black’ crayons in my coloring book! They assumed that something was wrong, but the reason WHY I was using only black crayons was because THOSE were the ONLY colors I HAD!”
Needless to say, when Jack told me that, I was on the floor laughing.
He was clearly STILL pissed that he had been made out to be some troubled kid … all because of a coloring book with limited crayola options.
I tell you. That story still cracks me up. Where were we?
You know, I think I might be coming around to the whole coloring books for adults thing. Here’s why ...
During that radio report, the commentator said that coloring books for adults _ as opposed to “adult coloring books” - are exploding in popularity because many people are seeing them as a form of stress relief during these politically and culturally tense times. I guess sort of like doing crossword puzzles.
There you go. When I heard that, I couldn’t wait to get back here and share this with you. You know exactly where I’m going with this.
We live in a crazy, upside down world where it’s often challenging to discern real from fake and truth from lies. It sometimes seems like everyone is on the take and cheating has become the rule rather than the exception. The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer and there seems to be no end to it all. Everything is political.
And yet, in the midst of it all … a coloring book ... for adults, no less.
I know … I know. You’re choking back tears. Go ahead. I’ll give you a minute. Here’s a hanky.
You know, for all of life’s daily struggles, lies and flat-out criminalities, we’re all pulled back to our childhood from time to time … a simpler time with boxes of crayolas bursting with color … but not if you’re my old friend Jack.
Seriously … what that report tells me is that people are truly dying to get back to their own creativity and expression. The very things that we drop and dismiss in favor of adult pragmatism and the rat race are the very same things that the child who remains inside of us still wants and later demands … well into adulthood.
Coloring books help alleviate stress? Any artist could’ve told you that.
It’s yet another silent and obscure victory for contemporary art. Maybe THAT’S what we really need … a chicken in every pot … and a coloring book in everyone home … for adults.
Hey … while we’re at it … can somebody get a STACK of coloring books for Hillary and Donald?
Just make sure you give them coloring books for adults and NOT “adult coloring books.”
At the risk of sounding like a teenage girl … Eeeewww!