My Love Affair with Crayons

February 23, 2016

When my daughter was a baby (Yikes! She’s turning 30!), I took a short hiatus from making art. But eventually, like it always does, it called me back. I didn’t have a studio at that time and so I set up shop in a small room in our house.

I’ll never forget the day I pulled out my art materials and started working again. I’d used oil paints and turpentine and house paint and oil sticks etc. etc. for years. Carelessly using my gloveless hands to paint with instead of a brush, I knew nothing back then about chemical sensitivities.

But on that day, my body said “Enough is enough”. I got a raging headache and felt dizzy and nauseous.

My days of working with toxic art materials came to a screeching halt.

I mourned my oil paints deeply because I’d never liked the look and feel of acrylics. The colors don’t have the richness that oils do and the paint looks like plastic (because it is). Watercolors or gouache didn’t particularly rev me up either.

So I did what any newly chemical-sensitive artist would do. I rediscovered the joy of crayons.

In truth, my love affair with crayons started at an early age. As a child, coloring within and without the lines could occupy me for hours on end.

As an adult artist and mother of two young children, crayons took on a whole new meaning. No longer were the waxy sticks relegated to coloring books. They became my go-to favorite material and still are to this day.

My kids and I would save the little broken bits and melt the colors together in an empty tuna can in the oven. It was the best lesson I could offer them on complementary colors.

They saw how melting opposite colors on the color wheel would yield a dull muddy color. But when we melted reds and oranges and yellows together, or greens and blues and purples together, the results were spectacular.

One of my favorite poems that I read to my children was “Crayons”, by Marchette Chute from the book “Read-Aloud Rhymes For the Very Young”, Selected by Jack Prelutsky, Illustrated by Marc Brown.

A friend recently helped me organize my hundreds of books and when I came upon this book, I immediately flipped to the back where the poem was. My heart skipped a beat and I wondered if my children remember that poem like I do.

In 1993 Crayola announced the winners of a contest to name new crayons. It coincided with their 90th anniversary. I just now learned who named two of my favorite colors (they always get worn down the fastest). Tickle Me Pink, was named by Sam Marcus, age 12, and Robin’s Egg Blue, was named by Christopher Straub, age 8.

My love of crayons has only grown fonder with age. Full circle creativity, I like to call it.

Going back to the things we loved as a child can bring us the simplest but greatest joy in our adult years.

What sparked Joy in you as a child that might bring you back to your creative spirit? I’d love to know!

With love,
Barbara

 

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