When looking to de-stress and unleash whatever creative urges are bottled up inside, I don't usually turn to my iPhone for help. How naive I've been.
A new app called Chromaldry, billing itself as the "art therapy app," hopes to turn you from a sweating ball of stress into a chill, creative goddess without leaving home. (And by home, I mean your iPhone screen.) The brainchild of Toronto-based indie app studio Honeycombinatorics, the exercise hops on the adult coloring book bandwagon, aiming to inspire similarly zen results without all the pesky baggage, like the coloring book.
In my time covering the field of art therapy, I've learned one key lesson that stands out from the rest: art therapy is only officially Art Therapy if conducted in the presence of a licensed art therapist. So, although Chromaldry can't officially be qualified as art therapy, unless you rent a therapist to hang out with you while you play it, that's not to say it can't yield some of the same relaxing and healing effects.
Simply put, Chromaldry turns your iPhone (or iWatch or iPad) into a coloring book. Specifically, it transforms any of photo you take or upload into a black-and-white template ready to be colored. And by colored, I mean finger painted.
After selecting your photo-cum-canvas, you click on a region to color. A sort of paint palette appears along with the color swatches which must be mixed in a mysterious ratio to yield the desired hue. Mostly, this results in blindly clicking on the different colors and swirling your fingers around, watching them blur together until you land upon the desired pigment. It's pretty addictive, and though frustrating at first, soon becomes a sort of mindless and relaxing exercise in watching colors mix and merge like a finger painting ballet.
Also, you get to watch your selfies become objets d'art. Which, though I don't think has any direct therapeutic effect, is a cool bonus.
The game doesn't really feel like coloring in a coloring book, though. Finger painting is more on point, for better or worse, without the mess. There's also no way to color outside the lines, which is denying the colorer a major part of the coloring book experience; instead, promising an impeccable final product.
So, while I don't know if it can quite be categorized as art therapy, Chromaldry is an absorbing mix of old school nostalgia and new fangled tech that is surprisingly meditative, especially for an iPhone app.
Chromaldry officially launches Nov. 5, when you can download it from your app store for $2.99.
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