Why Colouring Matters

By Ann-Margret Hovsepian

Scrolling through my Facebook news feed one day, I saw a cartoon with the caption: “Colouring page for lazy people.” It featured a zebra, a panda and a penguin sitting together on a snow bank. I didn’t laugh out loud, but I couldn’t help grinning as I thought of certain friends who have not joined the adult colouring craze of the last year or so.

Subscribe to Faith Today in July/August to receive a free copy of Restore My Soul.
Subscribe to Faith Today in July/August to receive a free copy of Restore My Soul.

The cartoon also reminded me that, without colour, this world would probably be a stark black and white or grayscale landscape. When you stop to think about it, colour plays a crucial role in our lives. It has both practical and esthetic purposes. We constantly distinguish between colours—when we get dressed or apply make-up, when we cook, in our gardens, while driving. Colour choices have great impact in fashion, décor and marketing because colour affects our mood.

The two rooms I spend the most time in at home—my studio and my bedroom—both feature wood furniture and a homey, cottage-y look, but they have completely different colour schemes. My studio is bright with mostly red accents and splashes of yellow and green. My bedroom walls are vintage blue and the décor accents are white or beige. The colours in my studio stimulate and inspire me, which is perfect for the creative work I do. My bedroom colours help me feel restful.

What we sometimes forget, when we get caught up in our colour choices, is that God created colour! He made it an intricate part of our lives, not only in the natural world around us—think of the brilliant foliage we enjoy every fall in Canada or a bowl of ripe fruit—but also in everything we touch. Our books, furniture, bedding, cars, shoes and toothbrushes all had colours chosen for them before they were manufactured.

In Exodus 25, the Lord gave detailed instructions for the building and embellishment of the tabernacle. He specified the materials to be gathered, including silver, gold and bronze; blue, purple and scarlet thread; ram skins dyed red and onyx stones. I don’t believe God chose these colours randomly. He designed every inch of the tabernacle with the same attention and care He gave to the creation.

God could have created a colourless world but He didn’t. He could have made the daytime sky orange, avocados pink, snow turquoise or hippopotamuses red. But He didn’t and, as science has shown us many centuries after creation, every colour our eyes see and send to our brains has a different effect on us.

One of my very favourite things to look at it is a vast grassy field. The specific colour that God chose for grass and trees is perfect for soothing us, which is why many of us begin to calm down when we drive out of the city toward the country.

I would guess that God took pleasure in colouring everything around us. No wonder colouring is pleasurable so many of us!

The popularity of colouring books has spread like wildfire among adults in the last year or two, partly just because it’s the latest trend and a novelty, but also because, as multiple news reports have explained, colouring touches a place deep inside many people, particularly women it seems.

Colouring calls us to slow down, to unplug, to partake in an enjoyable activity we long ago let someone tell us is childish. It engages our imagination, eyes and hands. Depending on personality and skill level, it can help clear our heads for a couple of hours or provide quick satisfaction when we finish a page. And, despite our tendency to compare ourselves to others, artistic talent is truly not a prerequisite to enjoy colouring. It’s supposed to be fun—whether you end up with a masterpiece or a page full of scribbles.

Not everyone is into colouring. Some think it’s a waste of time. Some believe they’re not good at colouring so they don’t try. Others just wouldn’t enjoy it. However, there are two benefits of colouring that I encourage everyone to consider, no matter what kind of artistic talent they have or don’t have: first, a deeper appreciation of the vast range of colours that exist and enhance our lives and, second, the restorative effects of pressing the pause button in our lives and allowing our minds and hearts to rest as we add colour to a piece of paper.

When was the last time you slowed down and did something restful? I’m not talking about scrolling through your Facebook news feed or watching television.

True rest is when you’re able to clear your head and breathe deeply, creating an opportunity for God to speak to you. Colouring is one way to do this because, in my experience, choosing my next colour doesn’t take much mental energy, freeing up my mind to reflect, pray, daydream or just soak in praise music I have playing in the background. Other activities that can have a similar effect include going for a nature walk, looking through a photo album, soaking in a tub, baking when you don’t need to, knitting or simply taking a nap.

If you have no desire to pick up a set of markers and fill in tiny spaces on a page, I hope you will still make a point of enjoying and appreciating colour in your own restful way.

Ann-Margret Hovsepian is a Montreal-based author and illustrator (www.annhovsepian.com). Her devotional colouring book Restore My Soul (Tyndale House Publishers) hit stores in April and is already a best-seller. You’ll get a free copy if you subscribe to Faith Today before the end of August. If you already have a printed copy of our Jul/Aug issue, don’t forget our colouring contest! Send us a shot of what you did with our “colour me” cover for a chance to win a copy of Restore My Soul.

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