It’s OK to Color Outside the Lines

It’s OK to Color Outside the Lines

Learning to make art has been a personal passion of mine, you might even say obsession, over the past few years. I jump at every chance I get to gaze at what others have created, whether that be on-line or by simply strolling through a gallery.

My Pinterest boards are enormous, and addictive (but I’ll save that topic for another post).

When viewing art in person, I risk offending the artist, because I want to get as close to the brush strokes as I possibly can, or pick up the item and feel, discover, and dissect everything about how it was made. I fear this is simply not good etiquette. But, I’m hear to confess…. it’s just because I want so badly to learn how, and my admiration of their art is genuine.

So, I don’t view art pieces as the average person might, at least not presently, but I’m not ashamed! I don’t wish to copy their work. It’s just that I am obsessed with learning how to create things, and it’s not any one particular thing. It’s more like everything! Even things I have no idea why or what I would do with them. It’s much more about discovering the artist’s path, their skill, and know how and to become more creative myself.

Sometimes I think about how I made it to adulthood without knowing some of the simplest art techniques and processes. The kind of techniques I hear I should have learned in my elementary years, like tie dying, or painting with watercolors.

I believe my mother and father were pretty creative people themselves. They enjoyed making and designing things around the home and for their classrooms. You see, they were school teachers, and school teachers are usually thought to be creative, encouraging, and educating people. Now let me say, they did not exactly discourage me from learning art, but they did not encourage much creative exploration either. School teachers, in their very nature of their profession, are all about the “rules” (well at least my school teacher parents were). When I was very young and learning to color, I was only encouraged to color within the lines. Why, I ask? Why are children taught this?

Apparently my mother thought it was a rule, and since there are lines, in order to be good at coloring you must learn to stay within them. Now, don’t get me wrong my parent’s are wonderful people. Their efforts to teach me to follow the rules and do what is expected of me was of the best intentions and valuable lessons I needed to learn as well. I just think as parent’s we must consider how to teach those invaluable lessons while still encouraging our children to think outside the box. We must encourage creativity, exploration, and even breaking some of the rules (at least the harmless ones) in order to sustain and grow the right side of the brain.

So, as an adult, I now spend countless hours and days, trying to jump start dormant areas of my brain. Even this blog post, as simple and easy as it may seem to many, was excruciating for me to write. In every creative thing I attempt to do, I continually worry about what “rues” I am breaking. Are my sentences structured correctly? Do I have run on sentences, or incomplete ones? And if the answer is yes, guess what? It’s just going to have to be ok!

I am now an adult and I know the rules that I must follow AND I know the ones that I may break. Each time I endeavor on a new project that invokes the right side of my brain, I am learning to grow those muscles again and just that process makes breaking some of the rules ok. If you are struggling with some of the same things, I have a few wonderful books that have helped me and I am happy to share with you.

On Creativity – Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative by Ken Robinson

On Painting – Daily Painting: Paint Small and Often To Become a More Creative, Productive, and Successful Artist by Carol Marine

On writing – Weinberg on Writing by Gerald Weinberg – Personally.. I am not sure a single word would be wrote on this blog had I not found and read this book!

On Entrepreneurship – A Whole New Brain by Daniel Pink

On Business – Building Your Business the Right-Brain Way – by Jennifer Lee

For Parents – Your Child’s Writing Life: How to Inspire Confidence, Creativity, and Skill at Every Age by Pam Allyn

For Parents and Teachers of young children – (only a couple of dollars on Kindle) – Teaching Creativity: Supporting, Valuing, and Inspiring Young Children’s Creative Thinking by Abigail Flesch Connors


P.S. Advise to parents (or teachers) – If your child colors outside of the lines, I am begging you for her future sanity, proudly hang her “rule breaking” coloring on the fridge and tell her “Great Job”

As she grows up, she will learn if she prefers to stay in the lines, or if she simply likes to play outside of them, but allow her to become the creative person she desires and let go of the unnecessary rules.

Lori Jills Thoughts