Staying within the lines

This is what I spent part of this afternoon doing:


I’ve not got into the adult colouring thing yet, but I was looking for inspiration for an “Artist Date” for week two of the Artist’s Way. My first idea had been to go dancing – inspired by one of this week’s exercises, where I listed 20 things I loved doing and the date when I last did them. Many of them were relatively recent, but other than at weddings, I haven’t danced for years. I once went to salsa classes when they had them in the little town where I live at the time, and then when the classes moved and I had to travel to the nearby city, I stopped. But I had enjoyed it, so I tried to find a beginners’ class for this week. However, it seems that in my current city, you have to sign up for a beginners’ course that lasts three or four weeks and starts at the start of each month. Well done, self, for having this idea in the second week of April. So I have signed up for one at the start of May, but I wanted to go, like, yesterday, and now it isn’t the cool spontaneous artist’s date I wanted but a thing I have planned into my schedule.

My second idea was to take my fancy camera out for a little walk and take some photos of plants, but the light was lousy and the weather forecast was threatening rain, so I had to find something else.

I had already mentally struggled with this part of the programme – the idea being that you’re supposed to take yourself (or, more specifically, your inner artist child) on a weekly date to do something that “fills the well” or allows you to play or pushes you outside of your comfort zone a bit. I had found a couple of good lists online that had plenty of inspiration. Some of the ideas were things I do ordinarily – going for a run or meditating. I decided it was more in the spirit of the exercise to do something out of my usual routine. Others, while I could see they were satisfying and would potentially lead the way to a less cluttered, more creative life – sorting through your books, decluttering part of your house – seemed too much like things I could easily parse into pre-move “useful work”, which again seemed like I wouldn’t be approaching it in the right spirit. I struggle with allowing myself to play or do things that don’t have a goal or aren’t part of a plan.

So I decided to colour something in. It seemed relaxing, was suitably different from what I might normally do without being intimidating (making a sculpture from things in my recycling box, anyone?), and required me to walk to the stationery shop and buy some pencils, so I would also get a bit of fresh air and exercise. After some deliberation, I bought a set of 12 for €11.99 instead of 24 for €23.99, thinking 12 was already more coloured pencils than I already had, and I could always buy more if I wanted to in future. I chose to colour in a mandala, as I like patterns and geometrical shapes.

I wouldn’t say it has profoundly changed me or anything but I can definitely see the appeal of colouring in. I’m glad I did a tactile version of this, on paper, instead of using the iPad app I have also downloaded. It brought up a lot of memories – mostly of being told things like “colour within the lines” and “don’t leave any white spaces” and “only move the pencil in one direction”, to which I replied, “I am 32 years old and I will colour however I damn well please.” It was fun to play with the colours and I wished I’d bought a box with some better pinks. And I displayed my creation on the fridge afterwards.

In other Artist’s Way news, I have done morning pages every day so far this week (my week, for the purposes of this programme, starts on Monday) and have heard from some online friends that the book gets more religious as it goes on, and they gave up around week six as they couldn’t take the spiritual stuff any more. I am being a bit more cautious about recommending it to literally everyone I speak to, because some people have had really bad experiences with religion or wouldn’t find a way to work around it in this book, and I myself might struggle later on. I am kind of at the point with my depression where I will try anything even if my old self would have thought it too “woo”, but you never know.


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