By Corinne Breton

When I was in college studying fine art, I was told a tale about a group of people who my professors called the Sunday-Painters. The term was coined to describe a person who wakes up on a Sunday morning and paints with reckless abandon. Sunday-Painters have no other purpose, other than to paint. They don’t care if the finished product was crafted with practiced classical techniques or if the painting would sell for millions at auction. The Sunday-Painter paints for no one but himself/herself.

Though the Sunday-Painter tale was intended to make me wary of painting without engaging in formal choices and contextualizing my imagery, it actually did the opposite. When I heard of this mysterious person painting for fun and enjoyment I thought to myself “Hmm…that person is really doing it right. I should be painting for myself and not this imaginary person in a suit with thick framed glasses and a wad of $100 bills in his pocket.”

Painting was not always fun and relaxing in college. My mind was always fully engaged and eventually my art turned into my job. I realized that sometimes, like the Sunday-Painter, I needed to disengage and participate in an activity that allowed me to lose myself. Painting was not such an activity for me. That’s how I found “adult-coloring.”

When I first realized that “adult-coloring” had turned into a craze, I was very skeptical. Why were all these people coloring? Yes, colored pencils are a rarely used medium in the art world, and sure there are probably some high-quality pencils out there, but coloring books? Really? Who would want to color-in someone else’s drawing? It wasn’t until Heidi Norton (The Currier’s guest experience and retail manager) asked me to unpack a shipment of new books that I really saw the appeal of these books.

After cutting the box open and breaking it down, I took a look at the new merchandise. I flipped through Mindfulness, a book by Holly MacDonald, which boasts 50+ pages of drawings and designs. The pages were filled with intricate line drawings of abstracted animals, landscapes and natural motifs. Every now and then a page contained a quote by a literary visionary or an anecdote from a classical philosopher. I started out going from page to page, admiring the intricacies and imagining what colors would look best and what the narrative was behind the image. However, what I did not realize was that I was getting lost within the book. Eventually, when I came-to, I had an overwhelming feeling of refreshment and calm. In that moment I remembered the Sunday-Painter and realized that coloring could be my outlet. Removing myself from the creative integrity of the image allowed me to let go and just be.

Relinquishing control and allowing your mind to drift is truly a gift. Some people achieve this sense of zen from yoga or meditation. Some can only find it in short bursts and rarely can those moments be sustained, even with practice. For others, like the Sunday-Painters, mindfulness comes from the freedom found in creation. To pull a quote from my new favorite coloring book,

“Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time.”
– Hermann Hesse

So, try something new that, at first, may seem silly or tedious. Hurdle your preconceived notions and allow creation to quiet your mind. The benefits are worth it.
“Mindfulness” and other coloring books are available for purchase at the Currier Museum Shop.

Corinne Breton. Corinne Breton is an artist based in Manchester, NH working a variety of mediums including drawing, painting and video. She works at the Currier Museum of Art and takes inspiration from the objects on view in the galleries. See her work currently on view in the Currier Community Partners Gallery exhibition.