I found this 50¢ time-capsule from my first-grade self. Unexpected surprises are what I get for organizing my studio! Looking at this box of stout anti-roll crayons I couldn’t believe that:
- after multiple moves and way too many years of school, I still had them, AND
- I hadn’t used them up! Someone tried to eat the red. But that doesn’t count because I think it was the dog.
The set of eight magic wands, each a promise of limitless creativity, got me thinking.
As a first grader, I quickly divined the goal of successful color usage. Praise. Want a gold star? Color inside the lines. Hoping to see your picture on the bulletin board? Match pictures to real life: sky = blue, apples = red, leaves = green (except in autumn when yellow, orange, red and brown were expected).
Realism and conformity trumped imagination and exploration.
Alas, I did not meet Harold and the Purple Crayon, until I became a parent. But, I digress.
Just like a small set of anti-roll crayons, predictability, sensible color choices, and a bit of praise feel safe. Instead of careening away to discover our own mischief and magic — and make mistakes! — we stick with the model home decor, dress in neutrals, and favor matching sets. All of which may be comforting and I LOVE comfort. But never at the expense of JOY!
So, here’s the thing. As a passionate color evangelist, trust me on this one:
joyful living involves using all the colors!
And using the colors up — or at least trying to! Not that this is even possible, but we live as if using them up is something we fear. Exhibit A — all the carpeting produced in shades of tan, taupe, or beige. Living in self-imposted color scarcity we save the colors. Literally, like my childhood self saving the crayons for over forty years. Or as adults who edit our lives as we honor convention over our natural instinct for color. Enough!
Life is too short to die with all your colors held inside.” ~ R. Waring-Crane
School starts this month. The elementary play-field at the end of my street will soon echo with recess laughter. And whether the back-to-school season affects your life directly or not, here’s an invitation to each reader who practices life-long learning. Be gutsy! Flout realism and conformity! Flirt and stay out late with imagination and exploration.
Write yourself a pass. Scrawl it large, in vivid colors:
I give myself permission to break the rules, make mistakes, and play with color!
Keep the pass in a visible place. Stick it on your mirror. Carry it in your tablet. Next time you swing through Home Depot, check to see if the pass really works. Cruise past the paint sample display and take four or five cards. (These make perfect bookmarks, by the way.) What did you get? I’m cheering for a selection that features the likes of creamsicle orange, mermaid song aqua, and coronation violet. Tell me how it goes.
I’d like to thrive as a working artist. Connecting with readers who enjoy my style is what makes that goal possible. If you enjoyed this article, please share it with three friends who love redemptive art and appreciate color abundance. If you’re not already on my mailing list,
With appreciation — Rebecca