I am not colouring-in. There, I said it.
I don’t get this whole colouring-in craze. Have we all gone mad? Are we so sedated by life that’s all we’re left with. For fuck’s sake, learn to knit. Crochet around your tea towels. Do a TAFE course in tattooing.
Colouring-in is a waste of time. But that doesn’t seem to be the current popular consensus. The pile of adult colouring-in books in my study is growing. It seems everyone thinks I need to crack out the pencils. ‘Mandy, you need to relax.’ Yes I do. I’d prefer a massage.
And when I do finally relax I’m not regressing to the activity of a 4-year-old. I’d rather smear myself in poo. In fact, when I was small that was my first impressive art installation: poo paintings. It certainly got a lot of reaction. The feedback wasn’t always positive, but it wasn’t work that went unnoticed. Unlike colouring-in books poo paintings aren’t banal. They send a message. Perhaps I could try using poo on my colouring-in books.
Every gift shop, every newsagents, every hipster store sports a variety of adult colouring-in books. The patterns or line drawings are as mundane as the concept. Surely there’s an adults-only section? A colour-by-numbers erotica? I am 48 years old. I have shit to do. I don’t have time to be colouring-in. ‘Sorry, kids, dinner’s late tonight; mummy had to finish colouring-in her lion-in-the-forest mandala’.
I once joked that I don’t have time for tantra. Tantra is for people with whole weekends spare. No lawns to mow. No emails to answer. No children to drive places you don’t want to go. Perhaps colouring-in books are for people doing tantra – to keep them busy doodling during the long hours of genital worship when they’ve started to numb up a bit, a bit of pencil work keeps them on task so they don’t drift off. They could even colour kundalini.
I never liked colouring-in the first time round. Colouring-in books made me angry, with their big crude dictatorial lines remarking Snow White or a handsome prince on a steed. I was a frustrated 6-year-old unable to resist the urge to scribble on Barbie’s face. Give her a beard. Make her blue. And as the years went on, draw a cock on her head.
I never won any prizes at the local supermarket for my colouring-in skills. I don’t even get the point of a colouring-in competition. They should call it ‘who is the most compliant competition’. It’s a short life, and frankly I’m not interested in staying in the lines; I like making my own marks.
There’s something fascist about colouring-in books. The way they audit creativity creeps me out. It’s a philosophy of ensuring your wildness is kept neat and contained so you can be ‘creative’ and not make a mess. Colouring-in is what you want your kids to do after you’ve cleaned the house. You certainly don’t want them to crack the paint out.
Creativity should be messy. You should make mistakes. You should take up more space than a tiny bit of tabletop. Colouring Books are for Control Freaks. Clearly, I don’t like being told what to do. Nothing tells you what to do more than a colouring-in book. It says, ‘Here are the perimeters for you to work within’.
Perhaps it works for people unable to set their own perimeters. I am sure regulators, auditors and compliance officers would find this most pleasing, and perhaps even mildly relaxing. But not me. I’m a draw-your-own-lines or go-outside-the-lines kind of girl. I have never been good at staying in the lines. I can’t even stay in my clothes. I always have something spilling out, a stray boob, a bit of leg…
Colouring-in the lines is boring. Surely if you’ve got time to colour in, you have time to do something actually useful. Like volunteer at a soup kitchen or sell raffle tickets outside the newsagents where first prize is a stack of 10 colouring-in books.
Apparently colouring-in is good for you. It’s the new mindfulness trend. I would say it’s not mindfulness at all, its mind-lessness. It’s the gateway activity to painting rocks white. My advice: don’t colour ‘in’. Become interesting, and Colour Out.