Look, Ma… hands!

By Dawn Shuler

In my late teens/early twenties, I began my love affair with needlework and quilting.  I loved the idea that I could create something with my own two hands (well, and some string and fabric).  And there were so many possibilities! Gorgeous, sumptuous colors, heart-stopping patterns, and hours of meditative productivity.

creative with handsThat love affair has stood the test of time, and I’ve since added additional lovers: painting, fleece blankets, Zentangles, and coloring.

There’s something magical about watching something transform before your very eyes with colors, fabric, string, pencils.  To see the progression and the underlying, sometimes soulful pattern emerge.

Recently, I’ve heard of some electronic methods of coloring, like Recolor.  You can make some beautiful pictures and even add some neat effects.

But it’s with an electronic device…

I think something is lost when we continue to be attached to our phones, tablets, and laptops.  When do we unhook from the machine?

I will argue the other side – the side of the machine – and say, yes, coloring on an electronic screen by touching this space, choosing that color, touching this other space can be as meditative as using a colored pencil.

But what about that connection between your fingers, your brain, and your soul?  Your fingers bring in so much information… and, on the other side, can transform one thing into a magical something else.

I remember reading an article years ago about the resurgence of quilting in the 70s and 80s. Basically, women were trying to get back to something more basic… to create with their hands… to find some element of their past or culture to honor.

It’s all valid… the meditation, the creating activity, the resulting creation.  If you create a delicious meal, or arrange a stunning bouquet, or just know exactly where that pillow should go, or sew a pair of pajama bottoms for your daughter who is always cold, you’re interacting with the world – AND YOURSELF – in a way you can never do with an electronic device.