Simple Pleasures: Coloring Inside the Lines

Everyday Adventures

These days we, as individuals trying to be more individual, are encouraged to think outside the box and color outside the lines. Sure, it’s all kinds of buzzwords and jargon that we tune out, but the idea behind it is that being IN the box or coloring INSIDE the lines means we’re being contained, constrained, and normalized into sheeple-hood.

And I say nuts to that!

I’m all for being yourself and doing your own thing your own way, but there are times to be in that box and out. Times to color outside the lines and times to color inside.

Crayons and coloring books were staples growing up. They were a cheap way for my single mother to supply us with hours of occupation. Plus, Mom really liked to color with us, though she didn’t have as much time for that when the boys were younger as she did when I was still an only child. Mom taught me about outlining the shape I was coloring so that it would be easier to keep my coloring inside the lines and look nice and pretty. Even though I’m well into my 30s I still love to bust out the big box of crayons and a fresh coloring book when the mood strikes and just have some simple, childhood fun.

It’s a great way to get in the creative mood without any pressure beyond filling in spaces.

And that’s where I think coloring books and crayons excel. Just like in writing where we learn the rules of grammar and syntax before choosing to strategically break them for literary effect, coloring inside the lines teaches us shapes and relationships and the nature of how things fit together. Lines, boxes, and boundaries give us safe spaces to create within when a blank page or open vista might be too daunting with the unlimited possibility of it all.

Exploring outside of those lines is nice and fun and wonderful when something different beckons, but having those lines to return to is truly a simple pleasure.


This musing on the simple joys of a fresh box of crayons and new coloring book was prompted by a recent notice from Crayola:


To celebrate their 110th birthday, the 8 original crayons are throwing a birthday bash at the new fun-omenal Crayola Experience, the world’s only interactive Crayola family attraction. Right now, they’re out on a colorful adventure to spread the news, and you’re invited to join the fun!

How can you join in on the fun? You can FOLLOW the crayons on their adventure, LEARN more about each color and enter to WIN a trip for 4 to celebrate their birthday and the Grand Opening of the all new Crayola Experience this coming May, 2013!

Visit the Crayola Facebook page and click “enter now” for your chance to be first in line when the Crayola Experience reopens.

The new Crayola Experience features four floors of new interactive exhibits and one-of-a-kind attractions that will bring the magic of color and your child’s creativity to life! The winner will be among the first to experience the fun, along with a three- night, all-expenses paid stay. It’s an experience your kids will never forget – and neither will you!

Crayola is much more than crayons, of course, but it’s tough to think of the brand without the iconic box of brightly colored hues just waiting for fun. I was always partial to the blue shades–midnight blue, cornflower, and cadet blue. What was (is?) your favorite Crayola crayon color?


Lines, Boxes and Rules

64 Arts

Can I just start by saying how absolutely exhausted I am by the phrases “coloring outside the lines” and “thinking outside the box”? (Of course I can, it’s my blog!)

  1. I like to color inside the lines. It looks neat and tidy and everything is in it’s place and there’s nothing wrong with that.
  2. I like my box: I know where all the walls are and it’s roomy enough that I don’t feel claustrophobic.

If it’s your first time here or you’ve somehow failed to notice: I’m a very creative person. Both sides of my brain stay quite busy and I come up with way more ideas that I’ll ever be able to use. The above points don’t interfere with that one iota. Why?

Because I don’t feel the need to buck authority or tradition at every turn. I have a lot more time to create because I’m not eternally focused on how to disrupt convention or be a renegade, I’m in my box, doing my thing, and bringing in whatever I need when necessary. (Not that I think all who employ those catch-phrases are, but I’ve met a lot who think just that.)

Comforting things about lines, boxes and rules:

  1. They give us a framework to create in. Sometimes having all the options in the world is a hinderance instead of a benefit. You can spend way too much time picking out a dozen colors that will just look muddy when all combined into once piece whereas if the rules say you create with 2 complimentary colors, your options just narrowed. You pick between half a dozen pairs and get on with the creating instead of changing your mind a handful of times and then having to fix the mess the unlimited options led you to.
  2. A line is a path, a road, and just because someone already mapped it doesn’t mean there’s nothing for you to discover as you travel it. There’s 2 sides to each of those lines, too, the inside and the out and there’s nothing that says you can’t decorate on both. Sometimes our work looks better against a blank wall whereas other times it’s nice to have a background that coordinates and enhances. But the lines are there to show someone who can’t read our mind what parts go together.
  3. A box can be the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced (in a good way). Whether it’s a deadline (self-imposed or otherwise) or a set of parameters you cannot deviate from, it’s a challenge to be creative with limited time or materials. But it can be done. If you concentrate on what you have and immerse yourself, instead of bellyaching about what you could be using if you had your own way and one other thing, you might just be surprised at what you can come up with.

But, Scraps, what’s the big deal? So what if people “think outside the box” and go a little off-plan?

What if those plans are for your house? What if the contractor thinks the architect was nuts and moves a wall here, a beam there, takes out an eave here and puts in an arch there? Not only are not getting the house you wanted, it may not be structurally sound!

Now I’m off to color a picture. That I drew. Those lines are exactly where I want them 🙂

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Daily Doodle for Thursday:

Okay, so it was harder than I though to come up with something to draw each day. But, with the topic above bouncing around in my head, it did get the pencil moving, at least.

I don’t always do weekend posts but I have one last drawing topic in mind so at some point Saturday I’ll have something ready to go. Time is uncertain as there will be visual aids that need creating. Best way not to miss it, of course, is subscribe to the RSS feed 🙂