Having designs on a happier life
As a kid, Brotha Richie doodled on whatever he could — colouring books, the brown paper covers of his schoolbooks, his sneakers.
Music took over but then three years ago he went through a rough patch and rediscovered his old hobby.
“Art is therapy,” he said. “To create is therapy. I started taking my art more seriously from a therapeutic standpoint. I have been tapping back into that part of my creative self.”
He's not alone. Grown-up colouring books, pottery nights and sip and paint socials have become popular in the last ten years.
“It is a different way for adults to get together, hang out and create,” said the popular 46-year-old DJ whose real name is Lynwood Richardson.
One of his favourite places to draw is on the bus, often churning out a finished piece of art in the 20 minutes it takes to get home.
“A friend challenged me to make 50 original prints to make a colouring book,” Brotha Richie said.
He finished the pictures in a couple of months but “then just sat on [the] art”.
“I didn't really know what to do next,” he said. A few months ago he gathered up his courage and showed it to a friend, Dion Correia. The graphic artist, co-owner of the Front Street art supply store DNA Creative Shoppe, liked what he saw.
“I said, ‘What do you think about a colouring book?' He said, ‘We do publishing here.' It was a lightbulb moment.”
His three-volume colouring book is due out in a couple of weeks, and he has already sold about 15 of what he calls “DIY” copies.
“It has mostly been adults who have been buying them,” the artist said.
A cousin who works with at-risk youth in Atlanta reached out and he was able to send her samples; a lady in the United Kingdom asked him to draw a picture of her daughter who recently died.
“Then she asked if she could share the pictures with a support group she goes to,” he said.
He said it felt good to see his artwork having a positive impact on people.
But he wants to use it to inspire young people as well as adults. To that end he's shared it with members of Club Hobby Zone, a group he runs out of his backyard for children interested in remote control vehicles.
“I tell the youth, don't be afraid to share your gifts,” he said.
“Sometimes we take our gifts for granted. We sit on them because of fear of how they will be received, and also self-doubt. That is what was significant for me, to step out into unfamiliar territory.”
On Tuesday, he was colouring at the bus station in town, when a lady passed by and admired his work. She told him that she loved to sing in church, but had recently fallen ill and stopped, but that seeing his art inspired her to start singing again.
Brotha Richie said: “That's what it's all about. My life is full of moments like that. It's the ripple effect. I feel inspired and I draw. You see that and feel inspired.
“Who knows what that lady will do next. Maybe she'll inspire someone else in turn.”
He's nervous about having the books published, but determined to go through with it.
“You can't just be here to exist and be that person who will go to the grave empty,” he said.
“Discover who you are, and the gifts that are within you. You can't be afraid, even though sometimes it is scary. Face it and then move on it.”
•For more information e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Lynwood Richardson on Facebook or @BrothaRichie on Instagram