Painted rainbow squiggles on a canvas.

Image: Shutterstock

A new mobile device app called Chromaldry is helping users turn their photos into art in a kind of on-the-go art therapy. Though the app cannot officially be called “art therapy” because it is not supervised by an actual, licensed art-therapist, the app is still pretty relaxing and, for many, might help relieve stress.

Chromaldry works by allowing users to finger-paint over their own images. Any photo you take turns into a black-and-white template that you can color in, just like you probably did as a kid. After you select a region of the photo you want to color, a navigation panel appears that allows you to choose colors, swirling them together until you find the right one. “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,” writes Priscilla Frank at The Huffington Post.

While the new app might not necessarily be “art therapy” proper, it may still prove relaxing and enjoyable for many users. A study published in July of 2014 maintains that “the production of visual art improves effective interaction” between parts of the brain, meaning that art could delay—or prevent—the reduction of brain functions and capacity that happens as we age.

The study took place over a 10-week period. Scientists at the University Hospital Erlangen in Germany studied participants’ brains twice: once before they began attending one weekly, 2-hour class in which they learned about painting and art and produced their own work, and once after. Those who were not enrolled in the painting class and were instead placed into an art appreciation class in which they did no work of their own did not show the same degree of brain improvement.

So drifting off and using Chromaldry might not just be a good way to pass time on public transit: it might also be good for maintaining brain health! The app will also work on Apple watches and will be available in the App Store on November 5th for $2.99.