I don’t normally look at the news, or turn on the radio. My small life is peaceful without taking on too much of what I cannot directly influence. Or is my imagination too small to come up with a way of making a difference?
On December 11, I retweeted an article from the Art Therapy blog on post-traumatic stress suffered by survivors of human trafficking, whether for slave labour, or sex slavery. It is difficult to talk about what happened due to the effects of trauma. Also, societal pressure or a lack of understanding in general can make it difficult to express oneself even to close family and friends.
“Extensive research has shown that art therapy can help victims overcome trauma.” @arttherapy, Twitter
In my small way, I have imagined a world where there is a colouring book in every home. A means of creative expression available to all. A way of getting better. In 2016, there are a multitude of Adult Colouring Books available both online and in traditional bookstores. It is becoming well known that colouring is therapeutic in itself.
This humble blank frame may not catch the eye of an adult who is searching for intricate and beautiful designs to fill with colour. And yet it may be the portal to another dimension for someone suffering and unable to speak. A dimension where communication can happen indirectly, encrypted in symbol and meaningful colours. The meaning may only be recognized by the one choosing the colours and making their unique marks on the page.
Figure 3. Meaningful images to those in the know
The six images above hold a unique meaning for me. They are fused to specific people from a specific place who shared part of my life for a short but meaningful time. To unknowing onlookers, they may seem like a random, unrelated collection.
There are a number of blank frames in the new do-it-yourself colouring book recently published by Wildersoul. Some of them are like the one in Figure 2 above, without any lines in the middle of the circle (or square, or triangle…) Others are filled with a grid, or with guidelines that divide the circle into segments. These add a geometric element to the interior which activates the mathematical part of the mind. This creates a framework for sequencing, patterning, repetition of symbol, division of colour/texture/mood. Creating within this framework strengthens and encourages growth in the parts of the brain which hold these functions. These functions can be useful for “making sense of things” which at the time of trauma may have been stored in any semblance of order.
Also in the “DIY – Wildersoul Colouring Book II,” you can find an isometric (ISO) grid within a blank circle frame, which plays on the three-dimensional (3D) part of the mind. During my own recovery from trauma, it took time to regain my 3D vision. For a period of time the whole world looked flat, two-dimensional, like an artist’s painting. I am looking forward to discovering the joys of the ISO grid!
Colouring often reminds people of their childhood. Often an adult when handed a colouring book will say, “I haven’t done any colouring in since….” and a memory of childhood immediately emerges, in full colour. In this way, picking up a colouring book in itself helps to access childhood, or past memories.
There is a time and place for everything. For myself, it took around two decades for past memories to slowly emerge during a healing process which came at the right time and place, and under the right conditions, with a framework of knowledge built up to a point where understanding was possible. It was at this time where colouring in the style that the “DIY – Wildersoul Colouring Book II” promotes was the most beneficial for me.
So, could this make a small difference? Could a small colouring book idea fill the world with a means of creative expression which could help traumatized people get better?
How do we get a do-it-yourself colouring book to those who need it the most?
Figure 7. Tui and fern greeting card and colouring picture with New Zealand Maori greeting, “Kia ora!” Be well.
Note: The images in this post are selected from previous posts in the Wildersoul Colouring Book blog, and you may find them in the Free Online Colouring Book portfolio in the menu at the top of the blog. Or just click here and I will whisk you away to the Free Online Colouring Book pronto! Such is the power of WordPress!
PS. I heard the news this morning and my heart goes out to the civilian people of Aleppo.