On Coloring

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I stumbled into coloring. Shortly after I completed a Kickstarter campaign for my book Fifty-Two Flower Mandalas: A Mediation, a friend suggested that I convert the images to illustrations and create a coloring book — not for children, but for adults. Until then, I had never even heard of coloring books for adults. Now, months later, I see that it’s a whole world. One of the colorists who advised me on coloring books during the creation of 52 Flower Mandalas: An Adult Coloring Book for Inspiration and Stress Relief helped unravel the mystery for me. She wrote:

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“Untitled” by Sarah Blue

“Why color at all? Because it’s PLAY. Because creativity renews the whole person and sparks other ideas not related to the coloring — your mind has time to go into an almost meditative state. Because it’s fun. Most kids love to color and hate giving it up. Go back to your inner kid and have fun. You might want to make a flower as realistic as possible, or you might choose a total fantasy version — say in 60’s tie dye colors. You might pay attention to the mandala form of each design — how it can be used for meditation and focus. Or use coloring as a kind of therapy, because personal expression is therapeutic, helps stop rumination, relaxes. But mostly, coloring is about play and the love of color.

“Maybe one has to be a bit of a rebel to color as an adult — to take on that child-oriented activity again. But most of us never did really want to give it up. Something magic happens when the design is colored to one’s satisfaction. Here’s something no one else in the world did or could do. I am an individual. I have a distinct view of the world and I express it here. So, relax and go with your gut choices. There’s no particular way it is supposed to turn out. Just pick the colors that appeal to you for that design and use them to create your individual vision.”

Since this project begain, I’ve worked with a variety of people who color. Some do it simply to play. Some to relax. Some to enter a different mental/emotional/spiritual space, and others as a kind of self-therapy. I’ve started using coloring with some of my anxious clients. One told me she began in an angry mood and saw, in the design, what looked to her like a bull. She worked out her anger coloring the “bulls” and then saw another pattern that reminded her of a heart. Coloring those hearts, her own heart opened.

Working with these ilustrations has opened my own eyes, and my heart, to another way of seeing creativity. Perhaps it will do the same for you.

David

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