Friday, November 20, 2015

My Unabridged Thoughts on Adult Coloring Books

By this point, we are all well aware that I buy whole-heartedly into trendy stuff. I spent roughly 24 hours in London this summer and dedicated two of them in a cat cafe. I've been to a breakfast rave. My lunch yesterday consisted of leftover rattlesnake chorizo guacamole (seriously), which, yes, I repeatedly referred to as "guac."

Naturally, then, I decided a couple of weeks ago that I needed an adult coloring book.

I was sifting through job applications and realized I needed something to entertain me on my breaks other than mindless Netflix viewing and stuffing my face with Chips Ahoy. The image of the adult coloring book was seared into my brain since I'd, you know, been on the Internet in the past year, and it seemed that this was the perfect solution. It's creative (barely, but whatever, it requires art supplies at least), it's ostensibly good for brain and fine motor function, and most importantly, it's enormously, stupidly popular at the moment. Sold.

I went to Walmart—yes, Walmart; I may be a slave to trends but I also make $8 an hour—and picked up Calming Patterns: Portable Coloring for Creative Adults. This title confused me somewhat given that I can't think of a whole lot of coloring books that aren't portable, but I went with it and made my way to the craft supplies department. Visions of fresh colored pencils dancing in my head, I hit the wall of Crayola to find that all the colored pencils were sold out except the 24-pack of "Preferred by Teachers!" erasables. I wasn't about to make another trip to enable my coloring habit, so I embraced my full child status and bought them.

Long story short, I've now had the book and the pencils for about two weeks, and I've decided that this entire concept of adult coloring books as fun and stress-relieving is an absolute load of crap.

I won't pretend I don't enjoy breaking out my worthless, perpetually not-quite-sharp pencils and coloring my way through an episode of Orange Is The New Black Cupcake Wars. It's a nice change of pace from my normal leisure habits of colored pencil-free Cupcake Wars and sleeping. But STRESS RELIEVING? ON WHAT PLANET IS THIS STRESS RELIEVING?

I guarantee that no one with enough disposable income to drop $20 on a literal child's toy and elementary school art supplies and enough time to voluntarily color for fun has a life so chaotic that the act of filling in every single one of those millimeter-wide spaces is LESS stressful than their normal routine. 

Since buying this stupid contraption, I have finished exactly two full pages. Each one took me between two and three hours. This is not stress relief. 

Sympathizers to this inane hobby will undoubtedly argue that I'm simply not doing it right. "The point of adult coloring books isn't to create a perfect image—it's to unwind while embracing your inner creative spirit" or some nonsense, right? 


First of all, as someone who's both already fairly creative and is unrelentingly type A, the point of every creative endeavor is to create a perfect image, you cretin. 

But secondly (and here's the important part), if you've adapted this habit to unwind without the pressure to be perfect, I have a newsflash for you: coloring books are literally your worst possible medium.

Coloring books were created with the express purpose of allowing kids to create picture-perfect images without the ability or brain cells to draw an anatomically correct Elsa from memory. The whole point is to stay inside the lines. Sure, you can always give Ariel purple hair when you know darn well her hair is red, you rebel, but ultimately, filling in the spaces of a coloring book is about the least creative "art" you can do. (With the possible exception of going with your friends to paint six identical sunsets at some wine and canvas place. Don't get me started.)

If you really want to de-stress by way of art, invest in some watercolors or something. And dear God, don't restrict yourself to the microscopic coloring spaces like the ones in my Walmart book. You know what's most assuredly not stress relieving? Carpal tunnel.

I'm going to keep using this coloring book, because while it does just increase my stress tenfold rather than reduce it, I'm the most high-strung person I know anyway, so it really fits right in to my aesthetic. But let's be honest with ourselves: if you want stress relief, save your $20 and put it towards a massage.

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