Adult colouring-in. It’s a thing, and let’s not poo-poo it until we’ve tried it for ourselves, deal?
Sales of colouring-in books for the post-childhood demographic have soared as people take to drawing within the lines to relieve stress and invigorate creativity. These popular publications ditch Thomas and Peppa in favour of intricate patterns akin to those adorning Persian rugs and Moroccan tiles.
It’s very tempting! There’s no doubt I would enjoy pulling out the tin of Derwent pencils my parents gave me for Christmas when I still had a fringe and braces. I love sitting down with my four-year-old to help colour a picture. His are of dinosaurs and monster trucks, but the effect is the same. We get in The Zone where the silence is only disrupted for a “pass the blue, please” or “don’t bump, Mum!”
Why does scratching a pencil back and forth over paper feel so therapeutic?
The calming yet industrious feeling it calls up is similar to what happens when I bake a scrummy cake, snap photos with my SLR or write with a pen and paper and no deadline.
We’re talking about creativity.
For those who don’t think they are creative – don’t go; hang around a bit longer because this one’s for you.
I believe everyone is creative; we just use the word wrong.
Check out the lingo in the Creation story:
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
We were made to mimic our Maker, to resemble Him in form and in function. The God who fashioned bumble bees, sunsets, Mt Roland and the three-toed sloth took extra care with humanity, breathing the essence of Himself into those bones. We were made “in His own image”, in the image of The Creator himself.
Could it be that creativity is not a skill endowed to the ‘lucky’ but something inherent in us all?
I watched a TV show the other day and a middle-aged man was introduced – a balding GP with a wry sense of humour. But that straight, clerical stereotype was challenged when the cameras went home with him where his backyard was a mass of plants growing in a semi-circular swathe unlike anything I have seen before.
As he invited the cameras around the garden, he was enlivened. Gardening energised him. This was his recreation.
Re. Creation. Gardening was how he re-created himself.
It never ceases to amaze me how varied we are, each with a unique set of skills – we are evidence of immense creativity. Even if we adamantly refuse to own an ounce of creativity, our bodies are innately procreative.
In truth – since that first act of creativity, when God made something from the expanse of emptiness, nothing is entirely unique. Our acts of creativity build on what is already at hand, connecting existing things in new ways, adding to the ideas of predecessors and the Idea Maker himself.
You could even say that our acts of creativity reveal the concealed glory of God (read Proverbs 25:2 if you want to pursue this train of thought).
Pioneering American dancer Martha Graham said of dancing something that can be applied to all creativity:
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.”
Tapping into that innate bank of creativity – whether it’s building a piece of furniture, designing an app, painting a portrait, writing a business plan or devising an algorithm – affirms our identity.
It’s also lots of fun!
First published in The Examiner Newspaper for Keeping the Faith column on Monday July 20, 2015.