A Tale of Two Hobbies: Makeup and Coloring

20190115_003105If you do a search on YouTube for “makeup shopping addiction,” you’ll encounter a series of heartbreaking videos from young women who have blown thousands of dollars just to fill a room with makeup they will never use. These are women in their early and mid-twenties who have put themselves deeply in debt just to feed this particular addiction.

One thing that occurs to me when I see these videos is this: women need color. Some men do, too, of course, but for so many women, it seems our brains have so much space devoted to discerning shades and tones that if we do not provide for ourselves enough chromatic stimulation, we risk the need erupting in unhealthy or compulsive ways. It is possible for one’s eyes to be bored.

Since I’ve not done much visual art for a couple of years, I decided to check out a coloring-for-adults event at a local library. It was fun, interesting, quiet, six of us sitting at a table concentrating on our work. One man there produced extraordinary, professional level works of art even though he started with the same mundane line drawings we did. My favorite part, even more than the coloring itself, was running my hand through the ten-gallon tub of pencils the library provided for our use and picking out just the right colors.

The purity of the colors and the shiny prettiness of the painted bodies (ahem…) easily matches the intrinsic thrills of a new palette of eyeshadow or new tube of lipstick. I believe that any art involving color (coloring, painting or drawing from scratch, embroidery…) could help fulfill the need for color that many makeup addicts are experiencing. However, even less than a month into this new hobby, I see that coloring has some of the same pitfalls as makeup along with some of the same benefits. For instance…

1) Tools

Just as makeup fans discuss, study, experiment with different formulas — creams versus powders versus matte versus satin — colorists learn the difference between oil and wax-based pencils, the various types of markers, even the properties of artist-grade crayons. And, through it all, the purity of pigments beguiles.

This itself can become a compulsion, however; many artists collect art supplies they will never use with the same irrationality as someone who fills a room with makeup doomed only to expire and be discarded. As with makeup, managing the hobby requires anticipating the minimum amount of supplies you will need and not buying anything else until you use what you have.

In my case, I have a bunch of colored pencils left over from my working days (I used to color code my coding and editing) along with some from my stash of art supplies. I have more than enough sketching and colored pencils and even though they’re not all “artist grade,” I don’t need them to be. The coloring is just for fun.

A problem, however, is that my pencils are sharpened “wrong.” I put a steep point on them long ago, which is good if you’re using them for writing, but for coloring and art even I can tell that a more shallow point is preferable. I shall be converting them slowly, which is a bit of a pain.

2) Marketing

Those of you who do not follow the makeup hobby may not know this, but releases of new makeup products have gone through the roof the past few years, no doubt due in large part to the widespread malady of compulsive shopping. And, just as there are plenty of people willing to pump out new makeup releases, there are plenty of people producing “essential” products for the color hobbyist. You’ll be told you need to get the best quality tools along with monthly coloring clubs and expensively produced coloring books, all items designed to reinforce your new identity as someone who colors.colorcase

I recognized quickly that I was tempted by the many coloring books available for adults now. And, there were some carrying cases that looked interesting. I was able to snap myself back to reality; I already have a wonderful sketching case that I’ve used for years and don’t need a new one. And, I gave myself a rule that I can buy only one coloring book at a time and can’t get a new one until the old one’s completely colored in. Since I only do a little bit a day, the one book I have will last me for at least a year. (I picked up Adrianna Adarme’s Cozy Coloring Cookbook. Yes, it’s coloring for foodies. Yes, it has recipes. And, I think vegetables are pretty anyway.) Do another YouTube search for “How many years of eyeshadow do I own?” Similar reality checks to the one I went through for coloring are increasingly popular with makeup hobbyists; figuring out how long it will take you to use your new purchases is a great way to not buy anything else.

3) Blending

It’s all about the blending, whether it’s a windshield wiper crease work or hard wax burnishing. Come on in, makeup fan. You’ll feel right at home.

4) “Cheater” Arts Foster All Arts

I call makeup a “cheater” art because its results are temporary and the template is predictable (two eyes, one nose, mouth, pores…) Coloring is, too, because someone else has done the hard outlining and perspective work for you. All that’s left is the fun of filling it all in. I think participating in these homey, safe arts helps women not only learn drawing techniques, but also primes women for original creative works in the future. Cheater arts build up your art muscles.

I would suggest anyone dealing with a shopping addiction of any kind give coloring a try. Coloring is by definition a luxurious act, as well as calming. Colors on the page can be soothing, and easily as satisfying as any makeup application. It is a wonderful way to treat yourself. Just be sure to set a budget going in, and stick to it. Pencils don’t expire as fast as eyeshadow, but they do collect dust at the same rate.

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