Posted in Blog Posts, fibro

Colouring Outside The Lines

When I was a wee girl I was given a painting by numbers set for Christmas one year. I loved the tiny pots of oil paint, the way the pigment sat at the bottom while the oil floated to the top, the smell, the colours. I was less keen on the result, the painting looking blocky and unnatural. And I wasn’t able to paint inside the lines which didn’t help.

When my daughter was little we used to colour in together. It was a fun activity to share and we would put the box of pencils on the table between us and chat as we tried to keep within the lines.

In recent years colouring books for adults have been huge, much being made of the calming mindfulness of the activity. Certainly, the line images are much more complex and exciting: intricate flowers, whole gardens, mandalas and wildlife. But we still have to try to keep within the lines.

For a while I had a colouring app on my tablet as my hands were so sore, I couldn’t hold a pencil for very long at all. The app even took care of keeping within the carefully drawn image lines and each completed picture looked like it could appear in a book of illustrations. And last week I saw an advert for a painting by numbers app. Not only are your lines left pristine, you are told which colour to put where.

I don’t know where to start with everything I believe is wrong with this, but the most obvious problem is how much this stifles our creativity.

I’m really struggling with words today, so this isn’t easy to articulate, but shouldn’t we be free to paint pink trees and blue grass if we want to? I know my mind rarely stays within the lines so why should my brush strokes?

There’s a metaphor for control in here too. We will teach you to use technology but tell you exactly what you can and cannot do with it. We are being encouraged to be grey automatons, uniform people in a uniform world and The Mother help us if we show some originality.

I want to wear clashing patterns, sit on pink sofas looking at orange walls and I want to encourage everyone to colour outside the lines.

I know this isn’t well written, I know it’s full of problems and that I haven’t been able to express myself the way I want to. But fuck fibrofog. Today I’m writing outside the lines.


Writer, photographer, creative fantasist.

3 thoughts on “Colouring Outside The Lines

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more, Nettie, about staying in the lines. Why can’t trees be pink or purple? Why teach kids to guard against their own creativity? It doesn’t make much sense to me.

  2. I hate anything that stifles creativity – and I have a thing about order. Strangely, colouring in for me always meant staying within the lines, but that’s my order thing. However, I always hated being told which colours to use. I always mixed the colours, tones etc and hated blocky colouring-by-numbers.
    My daughter and I loved colouring and shared colouring books, and I loved how experimental she was with colours, much freer than I was.

    It leads into how much of society stifles and controls creativity from ultra strict school uniforms and allowed hair styles, to ultra political correctness (there is a place for being PC, but we don’t need to take it to extremes) and the policing over our lives from jobsworth people, politics etc… We should have the liberty to be free, experimental, creative, and fun!

  3. Absolutely agree I saw a couple of apps for colouring and just thought what’s the point? surely colouring is about the creative process not just pressing buttons and automating it? I deleted it quickly from my phone and , like you, went back to struggling to stay within the lines in my colouring books. Now I’m starting to wonder why I’m even worrying about staying between the lines?

    I recently discovered ‘Rock Painting’ there’s a facebook group (love FB and loathe it in equal measures which is a future blog post I’ll write one day) and my first thought was ‘I cannot do this, I can’t draw or paint’ and I can’t draw or paint anywhere near as well as some of the members of the group but do you know what? Once you stop worrying about what other people think it’s great fun just having a go and that’s what I’m doing and loving it. Thanks for the food for thought, I might have to write something on my blog on a similar theme, hope you don’t mind? If I do I’ll link it back to yours as the source of inspiration.

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