by Dannie L. Aasted

I started coloring as an adult when I was 52. I picked up a few coloring books and crayons for my friends and I to do some inner child work. Though we had fun doing it together, I was the one who fell in love with the art. Soon I was buying coloring books for grown-ups, fancy pencils and markers and special tools for sharpening, erasing, and blending.

Coloring speaks to my heart in many ways.

First, as a child I was never able to make my arts and crafts look like the other kids. By the time I hit the 5th grade I knew I was never going to be an artist. I hated seeing my art displayed next to the other kids. I began using the common “I can’t even draw a straight line,” something I hear other adults say all the time.

Coloring changed that for me. I don’t have to draw and my coloring doesn’t have to be the same as everyone else’s. I can choose the designs I want to color, and choose the colors and effects I want. I only have to please myself, although I appreciate that I get lot of pats on the back from friends, family and my fellow colorists. I even have some of my colorings displayed in frames in my home.

Second, and just as important, coloring helps me with me. As someone who has an anxiety disorder, coloring has become a way to calm myself. I am happy, calm and focused while I color. As I begin to create something I am pleased with, it makes me feel satisfied and creative.

Coloring has given me a large supportive community. My anxiety makes it hard for me to go out and deal with social situations. By joining an online colorist community, I am able to share my work and get support while also supporting others in their efforts.

Coloring has colored my world.

Hallway in Dannie's house showing some of her colorings.
Hallway in Dannie’s house showing some of her colorings.

Since I started coloring, I am now willing to try new artistic things. I recently baked for the first time in years, as coloring has given me more confidence in my ability to create. I no longer put my creative side down, and I’m even planning to take some craft classes and learn to draw this year. I have also discovered that I can change my photos (one of my few creative outlets before coloring) into black and white line art to color.

Coloring has helped heal me, calm me, allowed me to embrace my creativity, and enabled meeting like-minded people. It has also helped me recover some of my courage. Since I started coloring, I am once again writing poetry.

Collection, A poem by Dannie L. Aasted

My journal and three pens of various colors
        balance precariously
on the tottering tower of books that I am going to read
        as soon as I finish writing this poem,
          or maybe another.

Grab them quick as they topple over
        stop the avalanche onto the china cupboard
full of cute ceramics made by
        some guy or some pottery called Wade,

Shimmy past baskets of scrapbooks and
        a drawer full of photos
that aren’t scraps
        but have never been put in books.

Escape the bedroom, no disasters,
        just to be met by
          three fish tanks,
            two birds
              and two dogs
who think they are family
        and not part of the collection.

A selection of Dannie’s favorite coloring books:


9 Comments on How Coloring Speaks to My Heart and Heals Me