Remember when you were a little kid, and the actions of drawing and coloring flowed freely, without thought, angst or reservations? One of my fondest memories is getting a brand new box of 64 Crayola Crayons, usually at the beginning of a new school year, opening them up and smelling them! Yes, I smelled them, and have discovered that I’m not alone. Lots of “kids” my age would get a head rush from the smell of fresh crayons (I heard Crayola puts vanilla in their mix). Pair that with a brand new coloring book (I loved coloring within the lines) and voila…pure happiness! A few years ago, on a long…very long…ferry boat trip from Alaska to Washington state, I brought along crayons and a set of mandalas to color (mandala means center, circumference, or magic circle in Sanskrit).
I discovered again, the joy of coloring.
What I have known all along, but have most recently begun to REMEMBER is that there is supreme value in the exploration of color and design on a page, whether it be with crayons, markers, or paint. All of us have creative instincts or urges buried within, and are capable of discovering our voices through the creation of art and craft. (Sometimes it’s hard to choose; I love painting, drawing, sculpting, photography, & jewelry making…another lifetime, please). Did you know that doodling is actually good for your brain and creates a space for active listening (how many of you doodle while on the phone?)
I once took a Watercolor 101 class and had a strange experience driving home that afternoon. The colors on the trees exploded; I saw color within color, a radiance and brilliance missed on a normal, everyday basis. Somehow I was seeing differently, like my right brain had woken up from a very deep sleep. It was a short-lived experience, one that couldn’t be reproduced through my own will, but memorable enough to recognize the existence of another way of “seeing” through the creation and study of art.
“Deep greens and blues are the colors I choose.” (James Taylor). At a garage sale I bought a set of hinged panels, painted a dull gray. They were to be used as a room divider up in the loft at our cabin; a way to provide a little privacy for guests; but once I got them home and painted them (deep greens and blues), I decided to leave them right here in the studio because the colors make me happy and I want to see them everyday. Amazing what a few stencils and poster paint can do to a room.
It’s time to take back our crayons and doodle again. Color within and without the lines. Have a paint “throwdown”. And discover the many creations lying dormant within our hearts.
Monica Devine is the author of four children’s books, among them Iditarod: The Greatest Win Ever, a former nominee for the celebrated Golden Kite Award. Her adult nonfiction piece, On The Edge of Ice, won First Place in Creative Nonfiction with the New Letters literary journal. She currently writes fiction, memoir, poetry, and a weekly blog.