Friday, 6 November 2015

I'm No Bob Ross

Have you started colouring yet?

There is an obsession afoot and it is taking over the free time and apparently saving the sanity of Boomers and GenXers everywhere.

The rise of adult colouring books and sheets like these has exploded on the scene like paint-pigmented water balloons, and many of my friends and acquaintances have sipped the Kool-Aid. They are budding Picassos, each and every one of them, armed with markers and coloured pencils, worrying whether it looks strange to hue an elephant chartreuse, and whether or not their styluses are bleeding through to the subsequent page, thus spoiling the garish pink lion on the flip side.They display their completed work as if they had an upcoming show in SoHo, and they talk of stress-relief as if they had just swallowed a handful of Xanax.

And me? Well, I sit forlornly on the sidelines, politely and jealously nodding my head.

"Gorgeous," I exclaim with a tone of envious derision. "Your colour palette is stunning."

"I never would have imagined an octopus in a fairy castle looking like that." (Who would?)

Why haven't I joined in the mania? Because I am simply incapable. I'm what my seventh grade art teacher used to call "Artistically Challenged." Those are the exact words he used on my report card, whereupon he gave me the only D I ever received in school. The grade was actually overly generous and more indicative of the fact that I managed to hand in every assignment on time no matter how shitty the final product. (The fact that I still have nightmares about this some forty years later should act as proof positive of my ingrained Type A sense of order.)

It isn't that I don't love and appreciate art. I do. I am an eager student and a budding connoisseur. I love to meander through galleries and shops, and I have as great an affinity for the local artist as I do for the established. I have spent hours dawdling in some of the great art museums of the world and I always leave rejuvenated and awestruck. But as much as I appreciate the skill and technique, I am one of those poor souls who can't even draw a stick-figure. Mine look like disjointed railroad tracks with boobs. I'm not talking mere piss-poor ability. I'm talking the extreme; a middle-aged woman who cannot, no matter how hard she tries and concentrates, colour within the lines. I have a colouring disability. An artistic affliction. I used to break out into a cold sweat and shake profusely at those kid-friendly restaurants where they'd give the boys crayons.

"Wouldn't you rather play Hangman?" I'd croak.

Of course Hangman involves stick figures, so the horror that I might be introducing my children to soft-core porn at an all-too early age was always in my thoughts.

I am the lonely soul who cannot colour. I have the artistic equivalent of tone-deafness. I cannot be taught and I cannot learn no matter how much I yearn to. I am like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I can't join in your colouring games. Friends look at me with baffled expressions, disbelieving my protestations.

"Everyone can colour," they exclaim.

And then...once they view my demos, that familiar look of pity descends, followed by that inevitable sad, silent, knowing shake of the head that can only mean "Oh, I'm so very sorry for your troubles."

It really does stress me out to my core being. The idea that I might have to be alone with doodles and markers sends cold chills up my spine. You see, I require neatness and order. When my red marker skids outside of the definitions of the elephant's trunk, I actually get the dry heaves.

Relaxing?? Ha!! I'll take a glass of chardonnay and some Luther Vandross instead.

I accept that we've all been bestowed with strengths and weaknesses. I realize that I have been blessed with special and unique talents and gifts, gifts that few others possess. I'm not complaining at all. But, I am still incredibly envious of all of you who have found zen through colouring. It certainly beats many of the meditative remedies out there, and it won't land you in an orange jumpsuit. But please....stop pretending that it is the easiest thing in the world to do. There are some of us out there for which it is simply an ulcer in a pencil box.

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