Coloring Book Masters-Stay in the Lines!

I recently moved to a new town, and found myself in the position of needing to make new friends.  Of course, I have my wonderful internet friends (that I consider family) and my husband.  Still I had lived over 25 years at my old home.  I hadn’t needed to make new friends since before Facebook was invented.  I wasn’t sure I remembered how to do this “make friends in real life” thing anymore.

I checked the local paper for groups to join.  That’s what most “How to Make Friends” advice columns suggest.  You find people with “like interests”.  Since I am partially disabled from my arthritis, my “interests” are not “Ski jumping”, “Mountain Biking” or “Lay Your Own Tile and Save Money!” (all offered as groups at our local recreation center).

My interest is more in making friends than learning a new skill.  That is why I decided to go to the “Cookies, Coffee and Coloring” group.  Certainly the description seemed tempting.  Free cookies and coffee and coloring pages plus a variety of pens and pencils were offered.  I had received an adult coloring book

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Laughing and coloring go together…but that’s just ME.  What do I know about art?

for Christmas, so I thought this would be a good way to test pens and pencils before purchasing my own.

But, the best part was I figured how hard could it be to color?  Obviously “Cookies, Coffee and Coloring” was just code for “Chat and enjoy getting to know each other!”

Little did I know….

I showed up at the recreation center with a cool tote bag holding my lone coloring book.  I was dressed nice casual.  Dark jeans, a turtleneck and sweater and even wore a tad more make up than usual.  I wanted this coloring group to know, I’m middle class and ready to chat!  Don’t be afraid of me, I’m a nice person!

I was a little bit early, but the tables at the room were almost filled.  There were about 20 women in the room, all already fully focused on their coloring pages.  I looked at my tote bag and felt underdressed and under prepared.  These coloring artists each had at least half a table  filled with various coloring pages in multi color binders.  They had large tupperware containers filled with gel pens and others with color pencils.  A few women had professional grade magnifying visors and their own special Ott light lamps.

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Get serious or GO HOME!  I went home, I’m not serious!

I had obviously made a mistake.  I wasn’t in chat and friendship class, I was in PROFESSIONAL LEVEL COLORING MASTER CLASS.  A few of the colorists looked up at me, and they could tell I was a newbie The looks I got said “She doesn’t KNOW COLORING.”

I found one of the few empty table spots and put out my sad lone coloring book.  I then walked over to the nearby table with a pathetic offering of pens and blunt and dull color pencils.  There were also a few Xeroxed sheets with Spring themes.  I picked up a sheet and grabbed a few gel pens and the least dull pencils I could find.  I looked for a pencil sharpener, which I supposed would be a needed item, but there were none to be seen.  This was a class where you brought your OWN coloring gear, because what was offered wasn’t worthy of even a prison arts and crafts room.

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Yes, I am actually an artist, and this is a class I would enjoy!  I’ll bet you can even drink coffee and cookies here!

I sat down and gave a smile to my table partner and said “So, this is my first time here, do you like color pencils or gel pens?  I am still undecided what to purchase.” (As an opening line, I thought it was safe).  The woman looked up at me, her eyes magnified to bug size via her magnifying visor and said “We usually don’t speak during the coloring sessions, this takes a lot of concentration. I’ll be glad to talk to you after the session about coloring art.”

At this point, my own hell began.  The gel pens I had picked up were for the most part empty of gel.  I made a little mountain of ones that did not work. The color pencils were gritty, they seemed to be of the dollar store quality.  While the professional colorists around me were working with top quality Swiss pencils in fancy tins, I was stuck with 10 pencils with the blunted points.  The gel pens that did work had the unhappy effect of making the Xeroxed black outlines on the copied paper run.  The black ink from the poorly copied page was even coming off on my hands and sweater.

I looked up at the clock to see that all of 10 minutes had passed of the hour session.

Everyone was glued to their seats, focused on their pages like they were generals studying  maps of the purposed Normandy invasion.  I then remembered, the name of the “Session” was “Cookies, Coffee and Coloring”.  I could get coffee and cookie!  I stood up and went over to the Kurig and made myself a French Vanilla decaf.  Then I grabbed a small chocolate chip and a napkin and went back to the coloring table.

As I put down my coffee and cookie, my table partner swooped all her pens, pencils and binders into her arms and dumped them on the next table.  As the women at the next table quickly made room for her, all three of them gave me the LOOK OF DOOM.  Then one woman looked at me and said “We don’t allow liquids or crumbs near our work!”  Another one said “We spend a lot of time with our art, and you could ruin it with just one spill!”

retro_vintage_motorcycles_races_thrills_spills_postcard-r460327e7fead46398de157b25d2f0f8d_vgbaq_8byvr_324I sat alone and watched the clock slowly tick.  At one point, a few women did get up to have a coffee, but they drank while standing far far away from their “art”.  Later I noted others sharing their latest creations.  They had binders full of colored pages in special museum quality vinyl page holders.  They admired  how the combination of gel pen and pencils to created a “shiny look on the fish!” and “oh that makes the petal glow, like they have dew!”.  I had a vision of their children inheriting their mothers and grandmothers priceless collections of coloring.  Other children were going to get quilts or knitted blanket sand sweaters, but the lucky children of these mothers were getting binders full of colored pages.  (Yes for some reason they brought ALL the binder of ALL the work they had done to the session).

I have been to sketching classes, I have been to painting classes, I have been to pottery classes and knitting classes, and NEVER EVER did I feel the intensity and dedication as I felt in the coloring session.  There were no names exchanged.  There was no sharing of knowledge or secrets (I still have no clue, gel or color pencil?).  There was nothing but distrust of this newbie stranger who did not know the rules.  I also had an overpowering urge to giggle more than once.  I just wasn’t feeling ashamed enough about bringing coffee to the table, and know I was not being careful enough about staying in the lines.

I  saw I had been there for 30 minutes, and despite coloring one page and eating a cookie and nursing along a coffee, I had run out of things to do.  All I could think of was going home to a nice soft chair and reading a book.  Or perhaps knitting a hat for the babies in South Africa (a charity I support).  Anything but coloring. I just wasn’t serious or dedicated enough to be a coloring book artist.  I left and gently said “Goodbye!” so as not to disturb the artists.  No one looked up.

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because warm and inviting, invites creativity.

I will use my coloring book.  I’ll have to find out for myself if I like colored pencils or gel pens.  It will be something I probably will do with my daughters, as we laugh and drink tea or coffee.  I may even throw in some cookies.  We can be as messy as we please, and if I spill on my coloring page, well my children’s inheritance will just come with stains.

As for finding new friends.  I may try another group.  I’m not giving up, but if I’m going to meet friends, they need to be ones I’m desperately trying not to laugh and giggle at.

My coloring book has written on the cover  “Coloring! The relaxing hobby!”

The publishers obviously have never met the Recreation Center coloring Master Class. (Perhaps I should call and ask if they have a beginners class?)



Categories: Art, books, crafts, Travel

Tags: , , , , , , ,

14 replies

  1. This wasn’t a “Professional Level Coloring Masterclass” as there was no instructor and no teaching going on. What you managed to stumble upon is a room full of people who have forgotten what’s most important. What’s most important isn’t coloring, it’s people – people with feelings, people with curiosity, people who have a need to connect with other people.

    When I’m out taking wildlife shots, I usually have a large telephoto lens mounted to a gimbal head on a heavy-duty tripod. This setup attracts a lot of attention and people will often comment on it. Getting good shots of wildlife requires a tremendous amount of concentration and all shots are opportunistic. Wild animals and birds don’t sit around posing for you in the perfect places to get nice clean shots. You track these subjects through the lens hoping to get that one good shot before they run back into the woods or fly off. As much as I would like to get that one perfect shot, people come first – I stop what I’m doing and respond to their queries.

    I have no idea why these people are going to a group meeting to color if they are unwilling to share their interest and knowledge with others. If they’re so antisocial they should do their coloring alone. Seems to me that the only reason they come is to show off their work while be unwilling to help others learn how to do what they themselves enjoy. They have forgotten that people are more important than coloring.

    I hope you’re able to meet new people and make some new friends, Kitty. Keep trying! Your plan on how to go about doing this is a good one. You just didn’t succeed in this particular case.

    • thank you, I thought it was JUST ME< but on the other hand…. I kept wondering why they didn't just stay home and color. I think it was partly to show off all their new gear. So not welcoming to new people as the promised pens and such to try out were of horrible quality. I'm not sure why they were all there….but I did keep thinking "you all get this is COLORING in a BOOK, right?"

  2. Umm. Wow. When I don’t want to be disturbed, I expressly do not drive to someplace with coffee and cookies. I do the opposite in fact.

    • RIGHT!!! This has got to be one of the most bizarre groups I have ever heard about. I have no idea why they announced the meeting in a local paper. It should have been advertised as “Loners and Misanthropes Who Like to Color. Keep Out!”

      People who aren’t Rembrandt shouldn’t behave like they think they are Rembrandt. I’m not Ansel Adams so I don’t behave, when I’m disturbed by others, like a superstar of photography has been interrupted by others’ lack of consideration and respect for my artistic abilities.

      • agreed, I mean, I did not go in there saying “you know I taught art for years and I have my work still in shows….” I was just open to a new hobby.

    • well and I did want to just break out and giggle “it’s PAPER, and you are COLORING in a BOOK! it’s a NICE BOOK the colors are expensive, but it’s just A COLORING BOOK!” The point of it is that you do it while doing something else because it truly does not take much effort or attention.

      • Exactly!!!! These people aren’t creating original works of art. They’re coloring someone else’s art work. There’s nothing wrong with that. I do the same when I do needlework. I find a design someone else has created which appeals to me, I buy the necessary supplies, and I stitch it. However, if I were to attend a meeting of other needleworkers, I would expect conversation and people sharing their tips about the stitching process – useful tools, good places to buy equipment and supplies, better ways to lay stitches, etc. I see these groups advertised in my needlework magazines and that is precisely what happens. I’ve even seen cruises advertised for needleworkers. It’s a social club for people with a shared interest in the needle arts. It isn’t a needle arts club for people who don’t enjoy socializing.

  3. Such a riot! And they don’t even realize that in trying to colour so perfectly, they are doing everything else wrong! Love to tell them they should change their announcement to “Serious colourers only” so they don’t have to be annoyed by normal people who think meetings have a social aspect to them, and those same normal people can laugh at them in private at home!

    I’ve been to a couple meetups (Have you tried Meetup? We’ve done a ton of things thru that group!) that were kinda like this, but not to this extreme. Little private groups that for some reason advertised publicly. I so appreciate the hidden sociologist you have in you that made you stay so you could observe and document this subspecies for our entertainment. It’s hard for me not to contaminate an insular society such as this and just observe…..when you wrote about giggling all I could think of was to keep quietly giggling until they ALL moved away!

  4. When Kitty was telling me about this a few days ago, I was choking on my coffee.

    • Evelyn is so trying to get me to go back with a dollar store coloring book and the really crappy crayons from China.

      • Oh, please do! You can still do lovely things with a box of eight colors on those cheapie newsprint pages, and show off an actual skill rather than snobbery. Why on EARTH do the coffee and cookies get top billing in the name of this group?

      • If you do this, you can leave both behind for other newbies to use. A dollar store coloring book and crappy crayons from China would be significantly better than what is currently being provided. At least you can do some coloring with crappy crayons. Dried up markers and pointless pencils are of no use whatsoever. And, the outlines won’t run on the pages in a coloring book even if it is from the dollar store.

  5. How funny. My local library was offering a “how to” class on Coloring Books. My first thought was, “wow, way to suck the fun out of coloring.”

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