Thinking Outside the Crayon Box

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There is a fabulous children’s picture book by Drew Daywalt called ‘The Day the Crayons Quit’. In it, a little boy opens his crayon box one day to be confronted with a series of letters from his crayons. Each colour has bared its feelings about the way in which the little boy chooses to colour with it – blue, his favourite colour, is happy but tired and worn out; pink is discontent through lack of use, and so on. It’s a charming and innovative tale, that culminates with the young boy creating a picture where colour conventions are cast aside. Who says the sky has to be blue?

I love this book for the way it encourages children to challenge accepted norms. When we sat down to colour together the other day I was delighted that my daughter declared her intention to create her very own tribute to the book. The resulting picture (above) turned accepted colour wisdom on its head. She relished the challenge of resisting learned habits, carefully and deliberately selecting unusual colours for each part of her picture. It was a pleasure to observe her creativity in action. I could almost touch the freedom of expression as it burst forth onto the page before her.

She was invigorated. I swelled with pride.

Learning to view things from a different angle is a complex skill, but Daywalt’s book has distilled the idea to a beautifully simplistic level. With this new clarity I feel empowered to guide my kids into innovative thought patterns in all areas of their lives. I think I’ll term it ‘Thinking Outside the Crayon Box’, and break out the colour-sticks whenever we’re feeling stuck in a rut of convention.

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Living in Mid-Air

Mid-Air People

 

My daughter has quite an abstract approach to art. Her selections of shapes and colours are bold, and spill across the page in a confident mass. The balance in her drawings is quite startling for one so young and I suspect reflects her (sometimes over-) developed sense of fairness. Which itself becomes particularly apparent in circumstances where she perceives favour to be weighed against her!

Gluing a tiny selection of her prolific productions into a scrapbook for posterity, I was taken by one that depicted her and little brother either side of a house. The space around them was festooned with love hearts, and colours for each figure carefully chosen to represent their favourites of the moment (pink for Ella, blue for Joe).

What struck me particularly was the way both figures were suspended in the air. Despite there being a careful line for grass, an equally horizontal bar of blue above, and the house being firmly rooted on the ground, the children were shown suspended in the No Man’s Land of white horizon, as if at the top of a bounce on a trampoline. Grinning madly.

It’s a happy picture – most of her drawings are. Thankfully. I always remember that scene in Sixth Sense where the little boy says he draws rainbows instead of the images of horrific violence that were haunting him, in order to satisfy the school therapists – ‘They don’t have meetings about rainbows’. Guess we’re doing something right then.

Anyway, I digress. Suspended people. What’s that all about? I began to fester …

Does she feel ungrounded? Without a firm base in life? Is she watching too many Fairy movies and genuinely thinks people can fly?

Or did she just start drawing the heads too high up on the page and not want to make the legs look stupidly long? I suspect this last is true. Or maybe I’m kidding myself and she is less secure that I’d care to imagine. Guess I’ll never know for sure so should quit worrying and get a life!

On reflection I think this picture is a perfect example of how our kids are not yet bound by the constraints of knowledge that dogs us as adults. It’s a freedom I’m keen for her to retain in her arsenal of art techniques. And I hope she can grow to apply this freedom of thought to her life.

Imagine the impossible.

Dare to dream.

Convention is creeping in as her depictions of grass and sky squeeze ever closer together. But for now, mid-air people are very okay in her world. Long may that last.