I recently had a group of second graders out for a visit and we used crayons as part of our medium for our art project. As I prepared for the class and distributed the crayons the intoxication of the wax took me back in time.
I am an addict. I confess. I love crayons. I’ve loved crayons since I was a young child. Christmas morning, 1974, it wasn’t the Barbie Dream House or the baby doll that pooped that got my heart racing. It was the box of 64 Crayola crayons with the built-in sharpener. Do you remember? Oh, it had so many colors to pick; magenta, sky blue, blue-green, and even gold, and silver! Ah, be still my heart…crayons. And I tend to be a bit of a crayon snob; I like Crayola brand. Did you know they sold their first box of crayons in 1903 for a nickel?
I recall getting the box of crayons with a coloring book or two. I would lie on the floor on my stomach in front of the gas heater and color page after page. I liked to color all the way to the edge of the page and create little designs.
Coloring books are nice; they offer a starting place. However, it is a great exercise to have plain paper and just draw from the brain. In younger children it promotes exercise in the fingers and helps develop muscles used for writing and pre-literacy. In older children it jump starts creativity by having them visualize what they are drawing or by telling a story in picture form.
Ok, more confessions. When my children were young and we would go to restaurants if they had crayons on the table I always took them to have in my purse (for the kids, of course!) Well, maybe that’s not true. I’ve been known to be sitting at the courthouse awaiting jury duty coloring scraps of paper and gum wrappers from my purse. The truth is, coloring can be therapeutic. Exploring textures and value is working creative muscles and allowing logic to relax.
Here’s a fun exercise: In an adult setting or office meeting, put out a box of crayons. Watch the process as people choose their crayon. There’s emotional decision making that goes on. Why? Because colors make us “feel”. Color is attached to adjectives such as warm, cool, cozy, peaceful and powerful. There is a whole psychology to color and psychology is above my pay-grade to discuss. So, I’ll just say I am thankful I had the opportunity to experience crayons as a child and I’m even more thankful to still play with crayons as an adult. If you are feeling stressed, buy a box of crayons and keep them in your desk. You might be surprised. Keep calm and color on!