Why Am I Doing This? : The Eternal Question
I'm creating an all ages coloring book, that my friend and business partner, Jess, and I will be launching via crowd-funding campaign in the next little while.
I'm super excited about the project. Almost everyone I talk to is super excited about the project. The thing is: I've done enough projects to know that that will only get you so far. Eventually you are going to wonder: "cool, but why am I doing this?" Maybe because someone asked, or maybe because you've realized that this particular project means you will be creating almost 100, very specific line drawings (not that I would know anything about that...)
Initially, I began playing around with the idea of a coloring book very tentatively after a friend commented on a drawing of mine that I had posted to Facebook: "hey, I'd like to color that picture". Others chimed in enthusiastic agreement, so I rolled with it and started drawing, and posting more images under the hashtag #keepcalmandcolor. That was the striking of the match.
The lighting of the candle was when Jess contacted me to see if I would be interested in taking this to the next level with a crowd funding campaign. We talked about the benefits of a creative practice. The accessibility of coloring as an artistic pastime, a sort of gateway drug to greater creative permission. The mindfulness that could be cultivated, the soothing of anxiety, the therapeutic aspects.
Now we're entering the logisitcal phase. We're on the phone with print management companies, organizing a test group, answering email, figuring out pricing, paper and binding, and I'm still running into my own creative... shall we say... difficulties.
Yeah, it's easy to doodle out a quick line drawing while the kid you nanny is napping, and no one's home. But now, every drawing has a purpose and an audience. And when I sit down (or stand, actually, at my weird tall desk) and the shrill, social anxiety, perfectionisim, everyone-is-watching, and I-have-to-be-a-professional voices start screaming "WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?" I need a really good, honest answer. An answer from the gut.
And here it is: I remember sitting beside my mom as a little girl and asking her to draw picture after picture of this and that. I would add to them, or we would color them together. If I was drawing by myself, and I got stuck I would ask her to draw the bit I couldn't get right the same way kids ask for the spelling of a difficult word.
Pablo Picasso once said: "Every child is an artist, the problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up."
Not everyone gets to have that experience with creativity in general, and often less with visual art. Not everyone has a safety net, a gentle encouraging art companion.
I got lucky. I never grew out of being an artist. I got to keep playing with color and light and depth, and quietly nurture a way of seeing beauty in ordinariness, and I want to use that for the benefit of all.
I'm doing this because I believe that there is value in play, in practice, in serene focus. I believe that making the choice of: "what color do I want the clouds to be" helps us tap in to that quiet, inside voice that knows what makes us joyful.
But most of all, I'm doing this because I want to be your gentle, encouraging art companion. I want to collaborate with you like my mom and I did at the kitchen table. The match, the candle they're great, but this is the blazing wildfire that keeps me going on "I don't want to" days.
I want to be part of nurturing a culture where we play together even when we play alone. With no pressure and 100% support, celebration and joy.
I'm doing this because, if we collaborate, all of us get to be both the kid and the parent at that kitchen table: gently supporting and being supported as we play, learn, and make our world more beautiful, one moment of color at a time.