Title: The Time Garden: A Magical Journey and Coloring Book
Author and Illustrator: Ji-Hye Song (in English she goes by Daria Song)
Translated from Korean by: Min Jung-Jo
Published By: Watson-Guptill in 2014
I’ve always loved to color. There, I said it. Crayons are my favorite tool by far, and markers my least. I’ve always found coloring with crayons in a coloring book comforting because the objective – finish coloring in the picture without making a mess of it – is achievable within 30 to 60 minutes, depending on how meticulous you are and what you leave uncolored. This is a time in the U.S. when people frequently cannot meet goals: we struggle to pay for school, so we cannot attend; we seek full-time jobs, but they don’t seem to exist; we want to lose weight, but the food industry is pretty twisted. Therefore, completing any goal feels like a miracle, and to me, that’s what coloring can do.
Adult coloring books, however, are far different from the kid versions. The images are tiny, complicated, and finishing one picture may take hours, days, or never be finished at all. This past Christmas, my husband surprised me by gifting me with this adult coloring book. At first, I couldn’t use it because there were no colored pencils in the stores. Since the grown-up coloring trend started, stores can’t seem to keep on their shelves the only tool that makes sense for such tiny details. I was skeptical, but once I got my colored pencils I gave it a go.
Like the pragmatist I am, I started on page one, planned on coloring the whole thing, then moving to the next page. I didn’t completely finish:
I really struggled with how many lines there were on the clock. I’ve had this rule about not having the same color touch in different parts of a coloring project, but with The Time Garden it was an impossible standard. I felt like a failure when the colors touched, and I felt worse that I didn’t finish the tedious fleur de lis on the wallpaper.
Instead of giving up, I chose one thing to color on all the pages: the little girl’s skin. I had my one color and I filled in her skin on every page, happy that I hadn’t promised myself I would color in all the crazy details:
When I finished with the girl’s skin, I started to wonder if I was being lazy. The point of coloring is not to hurry, right? Well, I was never getting that sense of accomplishment I wanted, so yes, I was speeding! I then decided to add some color and have some fun with it:
Part of what reinvigorated me was reading Lynda Barry’s book Syllabus in which she talks about the connection between moving our hands and how our brains work. She starts her students with crayon, and they are required to leave zero white background (which means they have to color very hard). I played around with coloring hard and soft, but I still avoided most of the detailed stuff:
I’ve colored in other bits and pieces here and there, but ever since I moved The Time Garden and my colored pencils off the kitchen table, I haven’t really revisited it. I can’t stand all the little tiny lines and details, which now makes me wonder if adult coloring books are increasing stress for those who sought a way to calm down and relax! I would not buy another one.
What do you think about adult coloring books? Have you tried them?