Monday, December 27, 2010

New crayons

When I was a child, one of my favorite Christmas presents was the brand-new box of 64 Crayola crayons that we'd receive each year. I loved everything about them: the way the box broke open along the perforated top, the smell of them, the feel of them, and those color names...periwinkle, maize, salmon. (One of my most treasured estate sale finds is this mint condition, unopened box from way back when...before they changed some of the original color names. I'm such a crayon geek that I've only opened it from the bottom.)

So, this Christmas, when my family gave me a set of 132 colored pencils (every color Prismacolor makes!), I felt the exact same excitement. I loved opening the lid of the tin, seeing those pencils all lined up inside, and reading their color names (there's no maize but there is a periwinkle and a salmon pink). Prismacolor doesn't package them in color groups, for some reason, so this is how they looked:

(There are other wonderful brands of artists' colored pencils, such as Derwent and Faber-Castell, but I've always been partial to Prismacolor. The color lays down smoothly, they blend well, they're widely available and the whole pencil barrel is colored. I've tried other brands, but when only the top half-inch of the pencil shows you what color it is, I find myself spending way too much time looking for the right color.)

Yesterday, the fun began - sorting, sharpening, and organizing . There's something so satisfying about arranging art supplies by color. I kept thinking back to my freshman year in college: I was studying interior design, and we were required to buy a pack of 500 Pantone colored papers for our design projects. It was no small investment, so we handled our boxes like gold. One night, I decided, along with a couple of fellow design students, to lay out every single one of the papers on the floor of the common room of our dorm forming a huge mosaic of color. We spent hours on it, happily debating how to sort  the colors, etc. Yesterday was a lot like that for me - should aqua go with the greens or the blues? Seashell pink is really more beige than pink, so should it live with the other neutrals? (I'm sure my husband thought I was taking this way too seriously.)

At long last, the three families of greys are in my canvas roll case, and the rest are happily residing in glass jars on my work table. I'm ready to draw. Or, I may just sit here and stare at them for a while longer...


  1. BETTY left this comment (which I'm publishing, as I accidentally deleted. (I'm learning....):

    "You have perfectly described my experience, exactly, of opening the largest, brand new box of crayons, and colored pencils. Now, I oil paint, and have done the same with my tubes."

  2. I have a nifty color vision test at my office which identifies color deficiencies. Obviously, you have no problem whatsoever. However, it may be fun for you to try it sometime; then again, it may be much too easy.

  3. Oh! You and I have the same 'symptoms' :)
    I have to avoid office supply stores and the crayola aisle in the grocery store altogether.

    I agree, too, that I spend way too much time hunting a color if the full barrel of the pencil isn't that color. Derwent switched to the 'green' barrel with the colored top, and it's a pain.

  4. The most rewarding thing about blogging is finding those "like-minded" or "like-colored" people out there. Buy more colored pencils!

  5. I don't know if I used Crayola crayons as a child, but I use them now, especially sketching on holiday.

    Have been known to stick them upright in the sand, arranged in colours for ease of finding.

    I had Derwent colour pencils as a child and still use them occasionally. I graduated onto Berol Karisma, but don't tend to use them now. Less likely to get a sore finger from paintbucketing in Photoshop!

  6. Oh Sarah, we are *such* kindred spirits! I loved this story about your love of crayons and colored pencils...I can so identify. One of my few childhood memories is the kindergarden day that I first saw an open box of crayons-the fat kind. Pure, unadulterated bliss! My love affair with color may be more sophisticated now--oil pastels, open boxes of watercolors, fancy colored pencils, and tubes of any kind of paint...but the passion is the same. COLOR!! It's better than food! Such a wonderful way to go through life, don't you think? It's no surprise that we love plants too--your Protea drawing is gorgeous.

    Thanks for dropping me a note recently. Summer has finally arrived here, and I am feeling more determined, creative and hopeful. Maybe I will start blogging regularly, maybe not...keeping up with the correspondence is the hard part! :-)


  7. I would've loved a built-in sharpener for my crayons as a kid. The things they can do with technology nowadays... :)

  8. Haha you can't beat the smell of freshly opened crayola pencils, it's the best.