One of my first and most favorite memories of creating was coloring. I actually still own all of my crayons from my childhood. They are in a shoebox in my art studio.
The process was the same every time. First I would take out a crayon and trace along the entire outline of the image in the coloring book. Pressing so hard that shavings of the wax would appear on the page. Then I would color inside the line, one shade at a time, pressing so lightly, all in one direction. My breathing would slow down, my tongue would stick outside my lips slightly. I felt completely focused…and at peace.
Later in life, I didn’t have much success in convincing my high school art teacher about the beauty in this modern simplicity. We were given an assignment to find an image and take a small square portion of that image to focus on, increase in size and recreate on canvas. Most of the other kids in the class focused on painting things like vases, duck decoys and fruit in a bowl. Most of the class focused their paintings on something…”real”.
I was drawn to an image. You might remember the ad. It’s “Lucy” from Peanuts. She and the gang were being used for an insurance company promotion. There was something about her collar, the bright blue, the curve at the end of the edge and of course…the thick black lines. I loved every minute that I worked on this painting. I turned it in with pride. I had seen beauty in the simple. I got a “B-“.
It occurred to me in that moment that not everyone sees the world like I do. The detail of a line or color. Finding motion and meaning in a simple edge. The allure of a thick black line.
The delight I get in a thick black line side by side with vibrant color is still the same. I use it in my art all the time. And, I still have many coloring books that I color in using my shoebox of crayons.
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that I can’t create art for other people or think about what someone else will like or approve of. It just doesn’t work. When I create what I love, when I draw or paint a thick black line I am completely, authentically…ME.