Coloring Within The Lines

“Life lesson from the nursery: Broken crayons can still color.” ~Author unknown

Way back in the day, at least in the area in which I grew up, kids routinely went through a procedure to have their tonsils removed. I was 6 years old and even though I can’t remember having any issues, I was shipped off to the long since shuttered Locust Mountain Hospital In Shenandoah, Pa. for the grand event. And a grand event it was to be. Tradition dictated that tonsillectomy patients received lots of ice cream and gifts afterward. Plus, I had the added bonus of my best friend Bernie going through the procedure at the same time and sharing an open hospital bay. It turns out the ice cream thing was a rude hoax, replaced with some nondescript gelatin substance and the gifts, well, let’s just say that they clarified my family’s socio-economic status at the time. As I recall, Bernie received a full Lone Ranger action set, complete with Trigger and Tonto, and I was bestowed with a 10 cent coloring book and box of 8 crayons, one of which was white.(Seriously?!)  Within a short period of time, all my pages were colored, the crayons, were mere nubs, and Bernie was still playing with his Lone Ranger. But so began my love for the colored page, which continued well into adolescence until my voice started cracking and I realized I was big enough to start playing sports and too embarrassed to continue cranking out works of art.

Fast forward quite a few years and there I was happily spending hours coloring with my young daughter. The books were much more sophisticated at the time and living within a few miles of the actual Crayola factory, the 64 pack, which included the famous Burnt Umber, was the norm. Eventually though, she became a voracious reader and the coloring book stage sadly ended.

And now, after all these years, it’s suddenly cool to be an adult who colors. Step into any bookstore or department store and you’re sure to find massive displays of adult coloring books. Display 1

Several years ago, these books were marketed as a way for adults to “relieve stress”. More recently, that facade has been cast aside and now, it’s just supposed to be pure adult fun. The books of today are quite varied, from animals, birds, flowers, famous works of art, profession specific, religious, etc., and are extremely intricate. Interestingly enough, the NSA (National Security Agency) has even created a coloring book aimed at children with aspirations of becoming a spy, I suppose.  (And yes, there is an “adults only” version sold on-line, but you’ll have to do your own search for that.) The medium of choice is now colored pencils, or fine line markers, probably because you could never get, nor keep, a crayon sharp enough to manage the current designs. There are also phone and tablet apps which require you to use your fingers or a stylus to choose from multiple color palettes and then place into the artwork. (I may, or may not have tried several of these. But strictly for “stress relief” purposes, which may, or may not be attributed, at times, to Mrs. Lawrence.)

Last summer, with this new trend in mind, I happily ran out and bought two design books and a full set of colored pencils. Two of our grandchildren, both girls, aged 15 and 9, were due to arrive for their annual 1 week, summer stay. They live in Key West, and even though I consider Pawleys Island as paradise, it’s tough to impress them with our natural wonders. I thought I’d impart my old love for coloring upon them, just in case of a rainy day during the visit. When I proudly displayed the items, the resulting facial expressions told me the books and pencils wouldn’t find their way out of the store wrappers. Fine, I’m sure I can generate enough “stress” to use them myself.

In any event, later this year I’ll be traveling to Huntsville, AL. The goal is to spend a full month with our newest granddaughter. She’ll be around 18 months old when I arrive. Prime age to learn the joys of coloring books and crayons. I plan on being fully stocked upon arrival, and dammit, even if I have to repaint a few walls before leaving, she’s going to color and she’s going to like it!

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