Thursday Thoughts ~ Coloring Outside the Lines

Thursday Thoughts ~ Coloring Outside the Lines

When I was a little girl, I loved those big, thick Jumbo Pad books filled with fun activities and pictures to fill with drawings and to color. I enjoyed getting coloring books like other kids did, but I tended to gravitate toward the activities books — dot-to-dots, mazes and word games, especially. No real shocker there. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized the true reason behind my movement away from the coloring pages toward other things. It wasn’t so much that I loved these other activities more, it was my fear that would become exposed on the coloring page.


I have never been the most nimble with my fingers. Not even when I was a small child learning how to tie my shoelaces or working with small materials in art class. I never had the dexterity to handle delicate things. Similarly, I’ve never been known to have neat penmanship, draw a straight line — not even with a ruler — or cut anything straight with scissors, even if a dotted-line guide is present. Nimble is not my middle name. (And this is true, for it is Mary instead…)


As a result of this, I’ve never been the most precise wielder of the crayon on the coloring book page. You know what this leads to… yes, that’s right — coloring outside the lines. Not that this is a criminal activity by any means, but when you are also cursed with another crippling hang-up, it might as well be a felony. And that curse would be the growing club that is The Fear of Failing. When you are surrounded with the notion that you must stay inside the lines because that is what they are there for and you find yourself constantly coloring outside of them simply because neatness on the page is not your specialty, you quickly develop a new coping mechanism — it starts with stopping the coloring activity on the page the moment you ‘mess’ it up or simply not engaging in any more coloring in the first place. We venture into other territories we can’t possibly get wrong because we much prefer people telling us that when we do good and not that we are sloppy, interpreted by a child as ‘we are bad’ or just no good at something.


Do we even realize the indirect messages that we convey to children when we insist what they just drew does not look like a tree at all or that a tree can’t possibly be purple? We are telling them that their imagination is wrong. That creatively, they’ve missed the mark.


Aah, but as we get older, we realize that not only can that tree be purple, it can be as neat or as absolutely sloppy as hell — if we choose it to be.  It takes many life lessons, some letting go and a general willingness to venture back into a pool we otherwise feared hosted imaginary sharks that would leap out at us based on what earlier feedback may have suggested. We come to realize this is not the case.


I share this early bit of neuroses in my world because we all have them — hangups. Sometimes we tell ourselves we cannot do something or are simply not equipped with the skills to achieve something when in fact, it is a recording (or multiple recordings) of other people in our head years later insisting that we are less than.


Today’s creative homework for you is try some creative activity this weekend that you have not done in years because either you have told yourself that you’re not any good at that anymore or maybe the last experience you can recall gave you the impression that it was not your natural talent — set out to draw something, write a poem or short tale, pick up some cheap paints and try a watercolor, find a karaoke bar and croon away, or better yet, pick up some crayons and coloring books at the dollar store and steal away to a quiet and calm room to de-stress and strip away all of those recordings in your head telling you to stay inside the lines.


No, not today. Color away. In greens, blues, reds and yes, especially purples and do not — I repeat — DO NOT stop that bold, vibrant color from flowing wherever it may want to land on the page.


As always, thanks for reading. ~ C. Kuhn




(photo source, unknown)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *