(image via @adamjk on instagram)
How are y’all doing? Times are hard right now and like this post from Adam J. Kurtz says, it’s okay if you need a minute! I’m still seeing a lot of productivity focused posts online (which is fine if it helps you, just remember to give yourself a break) but now that our closets are cleaned, we’ve watched every Tiger King episode, and we’ve all had our fill of dalgona coffee I’m starting to see people going stir crazy, struggling with working from home, or if they’re not working they’re trying to find projects to keep themselves busy. The most popular of those that I’ve seen recently is art, specifically coloring, which is something I’m so happy to see so if you want to read more about this topic and also some tips on developing a healthy work/home balance from someone who has worked at home for years, keep reading!
(I got this from Adam’s website HERE but it’s no longer available. You can sign up to be notified when he releases the 2021 version this summer HERE or you can pick out one of his other books HERE! His shop is great, he makes some of my favorite stuff!)
My Mom always used coloring to help with her ADD growing up so I never stopped coloring when I was a kid, it’s always just been a part of our lives which I love because it’s an incredibly helpful and healthy activity because it relieves stress and actually has the ability to relax your amygdala, which is the fear center of your brain. It’s basically meditation for people who can’t meditate (me). My Mom spends HOURS literally just coloring in kid’s coloring books while she watches TV because it helps her to focus on actually watching TV which sounds counterproductive but her mind will wander if she tries to just sit down and watch a movie or TV show without coloring. I remember growing up, I always loved art and it drove me CRAZY watching her color because she colors in lines. She literally starts from the top of an object and draws a line and then another underneath it until the thing is fully colored in. I could NEVER understand why she did it that way, it made me so anxious to watch her but for her, that was the most calming way to color. For me, if I can’t shade… Imma have to head out. I grew up watching the Imagination Station with Mark Kistler (raise your hand if you still remember the shade song!) and had already started making my own paper stumps at home by the time I was like 9 or 10. I took art VERY seriously which can be stressful if I go overboard but usually is the most therapeutic for me.
(I got this from the Dollar Tree but you can buy it from the links listed HERE)
Anyway, it literally doesn’t matter how you draw, what you draw with, or how expensive what you’re using is… the point is the relaxation and calm it can bring. Sometimes you can pick up a pencil or whatever tool you’re using and think that there’s no way you’re going to be able to actually finish a piece and then suddenly three hours have passed and you’ve been in another world. Tip I learned from my highschool art teacher: listening to music helps with creativity! I definitely watch a lot of TV when I’m making something but if you want to get truly lost there’s nothing like spreading all your art supplies out, putting on some music, and just making something.
Same goes for writing, drawing, painting, and most creative projects. Even starting a garden, cooking, or learning how to embroider, sew, or crochet is helpful (and a useful skill) but coloring is the easiest and most accessible creative outlet out there! I’ve seen a lot of posts from people recommending $20 books & $60 marker sets and I wanted to pop in and say that you DO NOT need that! Expensive art supplies are nice, of course, but cheaper and even free alternatives are available and I promise you, your brain will not feel any more or less stress if your coloring book only cost $1. I put together a few pictures/videos showing and talking about some coloring and activity books I’ve found that I like, places to find cheap and free options, and other creative projects you can do with zero artistic ability needed that are equally fun and calming! All of the links to purchase the physical books are below each photo and if you want to see inside and what I have to say about each one feel free to watch my videos on THIS post or scroll allllll the way to the bottom where I’ve put them in a little YouTube playlist if you’re avidly against visiting my instagram. (Rude.)
(I got this from the Dollar Tree but it’s available HERE on Amazon)
Okay not to sound like the uber fan of Adam J. Kurtz that I actually am but he recently put out a set of 42 activity pages from his guided journals. You can order them from his website FOR FREE right now. All you have to do is order (no credit card information needed or anything like that, it’s ACTUALLY free) and then print the PDF out yourself or have someone you know with a printer do it for you. It says you can also use the layered PSD file with iPad drawing software like Procreate or Adobe Fresco. I know nothing about either of those things but I thought I would mention it in case you read the word ‘printer’ and fell into a depression like most people do because who has a printer? (My neighbor, that’s who. 😉)
(You can order the activity pages HERE)
He also recently collaborated with Adobe and released a series of printable creative toolkits inspired by his books and planners that I realized we’ve talked a lot about at this point and this is all starting to sound like a very welaborate sponsored post for Adam J. Kurtz BUT I SWEAR IT’S NOT, I just really like his work and he’s been one of the most generous artists I’ve seen online throughout this pandemic! It’s basically the same situation as the activity pages except you don’t have to go through the ordering process because it’s available directly on Adobe’s website.
(You can download the toolkit HERE)
Just click the link, read about it, and scroll all the way to the bottom and click the “DOWNLOAD NOW” link and you’re set! Each PDF is completely free to download, customize, print, and share and it seems like he’s going to be coming out with more as time goes on because this one is labeled “TOOLKIT #1” so I’m thinking more will be coming soon but don’t quote me on that because I know nothing. These pages are the most like his planners so if you don’t have one, this is the best option until the 2021 version is released!
(You can download the toolkit HERE)
Okay, home stretch guys. The last thing I’ve found I technically found out about from the artist who I refuse to mention one more time because it’s even making me uncomfortable at this point and he may or may not have contributed to the project BUT SO DID A LOT OF OTHER TALENTED ARTISTS SO IT’S GETTING SHARED! It’s another Adobe project called the Adobe Coloring Book. I had never heard of it until this last month but there’s actually 5 chapters out right now! Every week they ask six artists to create something inspired by a certain topic (gratitude, animals, etc.) and then they share them with us for free so we can download a PDF version to print, a PSD to color in Photoshop or Adobe Fresco, or a JPEG to color in whatever app you use to color!
Okay, that was a lot. I know I said that I would give you guys some tips and tricks for working at home but honestly? After writing all of that my brain is total mush and my list would just be some very predictable things like “make a schedule” and “take a break” (which is something I need to do right now, very desperately because I’ve been staring at this laptop screen for almost six hours now) so maybe I’ll do that another day. If you want it, let me know. Some of my tips would probably be similar to the answers I gave in my interview with MAQOBA so if you’re in desperate need, feel free to read my post about that HERE. Hopefully this helps someone. If you have any more tips or tricks or if you know of any other free resources that you think I should add to this post feel free to reach out here or on my social media or email me HERE!
AND FINALLY, HERE IS AWFUL SQUARE SHAPED YOUTUBE PLAYLIST (I DIDN’T PLAN ON PUTTING IT ON YOUTUBE WHEN I MADE IT, OK?) THAT WAS PROMISED: