I decided to start drawing again after reading several articles in the news about the benefits of coloring in coloring books. Coloring, according to the article, allows you to de-stress. I'd add that it gives me a tremendous amount of satisfaction. It's really enjoyable to work on something a little bit at a time with low stakes and no strings attached; to check your progress; to gain a sense of meaning and fulfillment. The turtles I colored in above took me about 30 minutes each with a box of Crayola colored pencils. I am pleased to say that I've picked up a new hobby. One of the best things about this is that I picked up these books from a local bookstore - Vroman's in Pasadena - which means that I was supporting a local business, rather than the mammoth modern-day Bank of the United States known as Amazon.
My mother has often told me that I used to really enjoy drawing as a kid and that I actually drew pictures that were quite good. Yes, moms will say these types of things all the time. But even in school, friends, classmates, and teachers all noticed that I was a perfectionist at heart. This might explain why I decided to go into the humanities in academia - like being an artist, a historian is concerned with painting a picture of the past; ideally, not for monetary value. Publishing and writing, which I also enjoy, have their artistic aspects. This mindset is all the more important in our current days when, in an age of hyper-competitive capitalism run amok, seemingly everything is monetized, including, most troublingly, things that used to be not-for-profit: health care, public education, prisons, etc.
In the New Deal era of the 1930s, the federal government, through the WPA program, actually put artists and teachers back to work. What a wonderful idea that, sadly, lies outside the realm of possibility in today's bought-and-sold-for political and media environment. I hope we can one day reach a point where public support for the arts - actors, comedians, artists, filmmakers, historians, philosophers, etc - is something to cherish and support, not to scoff at. We've done it in the past and it's really not so hard to imagine for the future. Below is an image from my lecture on the New Deal.