Adult-ing Creativity: Coloring Without the Coloring Book
Do you remember those bygone days when you could find some space and a box of crayons and color inside and outside of the lines? Yeah, me too. In fact, when I was still doing mental health as a counselor, I found art therapy to be quite therapeutic to the point I wanted to do my own coloring. I hunted high and low just to find some children’s coloring books and finally found them at a dollar store of all places. Walmart failed me. I can’t say it was ideal, but it was coloring. This was a little bit before the adult coloring books came out, one of which I now own myself…well okay, okay, it’s a zentangle book that kind of teaches you to draw as meditation. I didn’t buy it for that. I thought the geometric shapes were pretty neat. Perhaps it could serve as some kind of inspiration or something? Now that I think about it, I don’t own an adult coloring book if I don’t count that zentangle book. Alas.
I’ve been trying to rediscover my creativity. I used to draw and doodle when I was young but as with most things, I grew out of it. I LOVED art but the days of my childhood art began and ended in elementary school. Well, it ended if you don’t count doodling in every other grade as “art.” As a result, I loved art but never found a way to pursue it. Writing was another matter, but I digress.
Part of art though, at least for me, is learning to see. Many artists, it would appear, break down images into shapes and then go from there. That isn’t quite what I mean as far as seeing although I’ve found that helpful with eyes, especially from the side. Instead, the Lord, my teacher, is attempting to get me to see things as He does and part of that has become what He and I have come to call coloring.
There are plenty of reasons for this coloring thing that I’m both aware and unaware of, but I’m learning I don’t see real well at all. Noses are the oddest creations on the human face. Okay, maybe ears are. Have you ever looked? But, I’m still digressing aren’t I?
Back in 2016 I was working with a few of my Christian sisters teaching and assisting a girls camp. Part of the camp involved drawing. A parent there asked me if I taught how to draw. At the time, I had no way of knowing how to do that since I firmly believe what I do is an anointing [please see my blog post here.]. I mean, how do you teach that but something in me was born and that was to help other people learn to see and even draw. I thought it couldn’t be taught but it turns out, it can be. It has to start with a relationship with the Holy Spirit. How would I teach it? Well, it’s what He taught me.
The idea came to create, if you will, my own coloring “book” with Him. As part of learning to be creative and see, I take open sourced photographs, or my own, and I create a basic outline. It’s kind of a homemade coloring page. I haven’t found my confidence zone in creating strictly from eye for animals at this point but have found it more and more with landscapes.
It seems an odd way to learn to work with the Holy Spirit, but it was the way He gave me to learn to see and perceive when it comes to doing still life art. In fact, I would say coloring for me has been more of a movement to do as realistic as possible still art for animals. Of course, it is a learning process so I have plenty of artwork that demonstrates the stirring, if you will, of the gift of art and creativity. Through this process He has taught me how most everything is largely light and dark shades to create depth and dimension.
If you missed out on whether or not creativity or art can be a spiritual gift, check out my blog post “Creativity as a Spiritual Gift? Maybe? It is food for thought! Next time I will post an example of coloring to learn realistic still life coloring with the Holy Spirit as teacher and guide.
Notations and Citations:
 I have found a couple of really fabulous websites that are all open sourced sites for photography. My favorite is Unsplash. The other is Pexel. I use open sourced photographs because they permit you to do just about anything with them. It’s just my overly cautious way of protecting and using the creative work of another with some care. I don’t think tracing a photograph is illegal since generally speaking, I could create artwork eyeballing a photograph without much trouble. I do encourage folks to give the inspirer some credit.
 I actually write with the assumption of belief in activity, guidance, and active fellowship with the Holy Spirit. Gifts remain controversial throughout Christianity. I have concluded a personal relationship is what was and is intended and that the actual lifestyle of Jesus is attainable and freely offered. As a result, I engage God in this way in my spiritual walk and have never, literally never, been disappointed.
 The point of coloring is actually to create depth. In order to trace a photo, I use Photoshop for my art but there are other programs out there that no doubt are less expensive. I’m not entirely sure how this would work in a non-digital environment since Photoshop permits the use of layers. When I paint on canvas with Him it is completely different in terms of type of art and experience. Computerized artwork is very unique in my personal walk. HOWEVER, this is God we are talking about here and I’m sure if someone wanted it, He would find a way as long as it was in keeping with His desire.