Paint Schoodic

Join us in Acadia National Park in August. Click here for more information.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Make your own fun

Sampler from Salem, MA, 1791.Needlework was one of the last traditional crafts to vanish; girls were still taught to embroider into the 1960s.
One would have to be blind to not notice the current trend in adult coloring. Of the top ten sales positions on Amazon, three are adult coloring books (and one is a guide to decluttering).  

19th century fretless banjo. The banjo was invented by American slaves, fashioned out of gourds strung with gut strings. Talk about making your own fun in a stressful situation!
Evidently, coloring is nostalgic, it’s stress-relieving, and the end result gives a sense of accomplishment. I wouldn’t know; I never liked to color as a child.

Carved whale bone whistle, 1821. This was carried by a 'Peeler' in the London Metropolitan Police Force.
Our ancestors played musical instruments and sang. They painted in watercolor, they did tole painting and needlework. They did scrimshaw and macramé. They whittled birds, made toy furniture and tin sculpture. They kept diaries.

Quilters in Crenshaw County, Alabama, late 19th century.
To some degree, you can lay the blame squarely on our economic success: we are accustomed to buy, not make, our own fun. But three generations of us have also been raised in schools which are rigid and unyielding. Our schools viciously stamp out creativity, and our art and music teachers are at the bottom of the heap.

Whittlers in Shelbyville, Tennesee in 1968. Many of the best stress-busting crafts were ones done in community.
And now we have a nation which seeks release through coloring.

Adult coloring books are a symptom of a culture that has forgotten how to entertain itself. And that's a problem.

Mid-19th century hair-wreath. It was a time of gut-wrenching infant mortality and limited photography. 

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in 2015 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.


Anonymous said...

Beyond the obvious tragedy of coloring in the lines and infantilizing recreation...coloring books makes us CONSUMERS of a product instead of CREATORS/MAKERS of art, useful products or collaborative process.

Enjoyed the images.

Carol Douglas said...

Interesting perspective. Thanks.