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.