A Fantastic Discussion of Fear

I recently transitioned from coloring pages to drawing mandalas.

Mandalas' drawback is the appeal to such a small section of people. They all look happy-feely, hug-a-tree trippy. And while that's a good time, I wanted to explore darker, more complex emotions. I thought, "Wouldn't it be fantastic to spark discussions on difficult experiences we can all relate to?"

I researched a bit on how to draw mandalas. It starts with a polar grid, to help the design stay symmetrical. From there, it's pretty much a free-for-all.

For my first one, I decided to use just pencil. I started from the center, sketching an outline one layer at a time. When I finished the skeleton (as I called it), I went back to the center and added detail and shading, again one layer at a time.

I would stare at a section of the page until it showed something to me, then I would draw what I had seen. I felt kind of oblivious through the whole thing. I didn't know where it was going. I thought it would just be abstract shapes. My subconscious, evidently, had other ideas. 

Here's the final piece:
Revelation of Fear

I'm still shocked by it. By the time I got to the barbed wire, I had thought it some kind of prison...until I drew the arrows pointing out. Adding those arrows terrified me. With their presence, it changed from a prison locking something in, to a fortress keeping something out.

I'm curious to find out what you think or feel when looking at it. For me, this image brings fear and sadness. For a few days, I didn't know what to think. I wanted to detach myself from it. This wasn't me. This isn't my life. It must be about someone else.

But honestly, it pertains 100% to my current situation.

I want to do this art, but I'm terrified of where it leads. I'm afraid it will get no attention, afraid it will get too much attention. Artists across all fields struggle with this dichotomy, the tension between wanting others to see their art and fearing the vulnerability such sharing brings. If I share this with you, you'll understand something about me that I don't understand myself. It reveals a weakness I don't want you to know I have. You might love it, or you might decide I'm crazy.

Here I am, struggling with these very concerns as I debate whether to share this or whether to put it on a shelf. Here you are, reading up on my uncertainty. Right now, I feel exposed. Right now, I'm afraid. I'm unsure about where this endeavor will lead me, whether to start another mandala, what it will reveal about me.

I'm certain everyone has, at some point in life, struggled with whether to trust someone, whether to let vulnerability show, or whether to appear strong and steady. How often does fear inhibit our full potential? How often is our need for acceptance a detriment to our creativity?

My Eye Starts Twitching

I just recently started coloring. It's OK, it's for adults. Although I was enjoying it (yes, I said was—keep reading), I couldn't do it for very long. I was possibly putting too much effort into it. I could only do it for 45 minutes or so. I can handle the hand cramps, but when my eye starts twitching, I know it's time to stop. Actually, that's good life advice for any situation.

The husband and the boys have been playing Batman: Arkham Asylum. Even though they enthusiastically invited me to watch, I politely declined. I'm sure it's amazing, but I had other graphics to attend to.

When I started this second page, I wanted it to feature variations on the primary colors, and their secondary families. Here's the finished product:
Batman Keeps the Boys Busy

It took me 3-4 sessions to complete. I'm pretty happy with it, but when I looked at the final piece, one thought came to mind: I'm putting too much thought into this. I want full credit for my work! But this is someone else's design. It's a coloring page, for crying out loud!

That's when I decided I would start drawing my own mandalas.

I feel like mandalas are a great fit for me, with my experience in graphic design, symmetry, abstract expression, and paisley. 

I'm a bit intimidated by color at this point. I'm drawing one in pencil. I plan at least two more in black and white, maybe with charcoal. I'm getting excited about experimenting with these now. Plus, I'll get full credit for all the finished pieces!

It works out, because it's going to take them more than one session to finish Arkham Asylum.

Hand Cramps are the New Pedicure

A few days ago I bought this coloring book for adults. I didn't buy any colored pencils. I thought I probably still had some from my art school days, hidden in my closet from the kids. Because I'm the type of person who would rather spend 20 minutes searching through boxes in the back of my closet than spend $5 on something I might possibly already have. Somewhere. From 15 years ago.

Turns out I did still have them. And, even though my youngest has already lost one of them (reason they've been hidden from the kids), I count it as a win!

So, I sat down with some tea and some Ed Sheeran and got to "work."  Here's my first coloring page:
Ed Sheeran Did Not Make Me This Tea

Was it relaxing? No. Not unless hand cramps are the new pedicure.

Did it relieve stress? Maybe. I only worked on it when I was alone. No kids interrupting me. No conversation being held in the background. No multitasking. It was phenomenal, actually, complete serenity. I can't believe I haven't tried this sooner. Where has coloring been all my life?

This is the kind of thing I could make time for. Sure, it helps that the husband and kids just started Batman: Arkham Asylum. But really, I'd like to think I could've work this in without that new ready-made space in my schedule.

I'll let you know how it goes...

Fighting Stress With Colored Pencils

Stress is an undeniable force in my life. People talk about reducing stress or eliminating stress, but I just look for ways to relieve it.

I used to think I could overcome it. I used to think I could just learn to trust myself more, learn to somehow rise above the triggers.

Then I started freelancing. Then I got married. Then I had kids. Then I moved out of state. Twice. And I just kept freelancing because I really love it. Who needs a stable income with benefits?

As a work-at-home designer-wife-mom, I can't get rid of stress. I can't stop it. I can't fight it. I just have to work through it.

I used to do yoga. I used to meditate. I studied them. I know if I make time for it every day, it will relieve my stress and make me smarter and happier and add years to my bliss-filled life. I still can't make time for it.

Zoning out in front of a TV works for a lot of people, but I look at a screen all day. Watching one to relax just gives me a headache. Plus, when binge-watching Sons of Anarchy reaches it's limit, I have to try something else. (Who decided Jax Teller's scene time should be finite?)

I'm learning martial arts. The drills and training certainly help relieve stress, but it's not exactly soothing. OK, when I get to really let loose on a bag, or husband, it does soothe the soul in a special way. But, most nights, I'm still looking for a way to wind down.

I've been on a Solitaire app a lot lately. My family wants me to stop. Apparently, playing Solitaire while listening to someone talk doesn't count as bonding.

So, it's come to this. Adult coloring books. And I don't mean adult in the exciting way.

I was at Barnes & Noble last week, buying a book for my son (a real, paper one), and I grabbed this adult coloring book on a whim. Adults are coloring now. It's a whole thing. Relieve stress, meditate, and find peace at the end of a colored pencil. So now, I'm trying out the meditation of coloring. Where did they come up with such an idea? Who knew coloring could be fun, relaxing, and trigger carefree feelings?

I'll let you know how it goes...