College is a time when stress levels increase and students’ exhaustion takes over. With the new app Chromaldry, students can unwind with a touch of their phone.

Chromaldry is a new art therapy app that helps people de-stress. It turns an iPhone into a coloring book.

Art therapy is a mental health profession in which clients, monitored by an art therapist, use art media and the creative process to explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills and reduce anxiety, according to arttherapy.org, which is an organization of professionals dedicated to the belief that making art is healing and life-enhancing.

The goal in art therapy is to improve or restore a client’s functioning and his or her sense of personal well-being.

A person uploads a photo from his or her phone, and the app turns the photo into a black and white template for the user to color. To add color, click on a swatch and a palette of colors will appear for him or her to choose from. Then the user must mix different types of paint to arrive to the color needed for the photo, as described by a Huffington Post article.

Plattsburgh State Art Therapy Instructor Dove Phillips likes the idea of having an art therapy app, but she said there needs to be more of the act of coloring incorporated into the apps.

“There’s a different feel when you hold a colored pencil versus when you tap a button and get the color you want,” she said.

Phillips said a similar app, Colorfy, which launched in July, has the same principle of an adult coloring book. However, instead of mixing different paint colors, colors are already provided, and a person simply taps a section to be colored in.

Phillips said coloring is a meditative process and that people miss a component of coloring and relaxation when using the app. She also said the process isn’t the same with the app because people can’t color outside the lines. Phillips said for therapy purposes, being able to color outside the lines can attest to a person’s state of being.

“So if someone has poor boundaries, or is having a hard time, coloring in the lines reinforces boundaries,” she said. “You’re going to miss that on an app that does that for you.”

“I don’t know if I would be able to trade art materials and hand it in for a finger and a phone. There’s something about the smell of art materials and the sound on the paper and the sensory feedback that you don’t get with a phone,” she said.

Kimberly Hall-Stone, the secretary of Myers Fine Arts and an art history major, used the app with her husband and had a very strong opinion on the app, and said she recently started using therapy coloring books and that it is stress-relieving. She said she enjoys coloring and that other people should take up the activity. Stone said the app takes away from coloring because once a color is matched to the picture after mixing the color is filled into the photo.

“It’s good to have some failure. It’s good to look and back and know when you shouldn’t use two colors together,” she said. It’s almost like I’m learning more about color theory instead.”

Stone said the app is boring and that it may be more suited for children than adults. She said people don’t really have to make an effort while using the app.

While Stone and Phillips said it didn’t qualify as art therapy, some students felt the app was entertaining.

“It’s like one of those addicting games where you have to keep going until you get it,” PSUC graphic art major Dalton Mannerud said.

Mannerud enjoys digital art, drawing, watercolor, paint and ceramics. He also said anyone who enjoys art should use the app.

“It helps me get my mind off things and get in the zone of my own mind,” Mannerud said.

After playing around with the app, he said he likes that people can choose photos from their phone and that it is an original concept.

Phillips said she has worked with clients dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and found that clients were comforted by familiar photographs.

“There’s a lot of avenue with that now. There is an appeal with that,” she said. “Pulling in pictures that they’ve had and are comfortable with can be very useful.”

Mannerud said people might get aggravated when trying to mix the colors to match the colors of the photo. He said it might help distract people or help them focus on one thing at a time, which are all methods of de-stressing.

PSUC studio art major Joel Tineo said the app doesn’t relax him.

“I just have the mentality of, ‘Oh, I’m going to use that color, so let me use that color right now.’ But I can see how it is relaxing for other people,” Tineo said.

For him, the photography isn’t the best part of the app. He felt that the mixing of the different colors was the best part. He also said he would use the app for color reference.

“To me, I just saw it as a game, but I can see how it is therapeutic. If you’re not focusing on the time and the game of it, you’re focused on getting the color in a calm manner,” Tineo said.

Chromaldry officially launched Nov. 5 and can be downloaded on iPhones or iPads for $2.99.

“Art is a great way to express your feelings, whenever you’re down or need to show emotion. So if you’re using the app for that reason, that’s the perfect way to relieve stress,” Tineo said.

Email Kavita Singh at kavita.singh@cardinalpointsonline.com

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