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When I was small I had a babysitter who was the best “color-er” I’d ever seen. She would outline the edges of each part of the picture with a dark line of crayon and then neatly fill the areas in with lighter shading in the same colors. Beautiful. Never a scribble or a scrabble. Not a mark out of place. Just perfect and lovely.

I tried to copy her methods but my coloring never looked as good as her’s. I always hated how you occasionally get a blip of wax on the tip of the crayon that causes a little skip and a darker mark in the middle of your line…or how you can see so much white of the paper bleeding through the color.

The thing about crayons, though, is that they represented possibility. So many colors. And the color names…I swoon just thinking about “bittersweet,” “orchid,” and “periwinkle.” With colors like that the possibilities for creating something gorgeous were endless. Of course, you can also melt crayons, make “stained glass” by coloring solid black over bright colors and then scratching off the black, shave crayons into bits to glue onto paper. And they work on so many surfaces…paper, of course, but also walls, floors and furniture (as I discovered to my peril).

Crayons also taught me about navigating sibling relationships, which invariably included broken crayons, having to share my best colors, and trying to appreciate the style of a sibling artist with an approach very different to mine.

I don’t use crayons in my current art practice but I do still experience a shiver of excitement when I open a new box of crayons and see all those perfectly pointed sticks of color. So much possibility.