Color Us Happy!

Do you remember coloring pictures when you were a child? Does that unforgettable crayon aroma send you back in time? Coloring is one of the easiest and most economical ways for a child to discover his or her creative spark-and nearly everyone does it!

I vividly recall my childhood coloring experiences. I especially remember the day I watched my neighbor Laurie as she worked on her coloring book. First she would carefully and heavily outline a color area. Then she’d use the same crayon to lightly and evenly fill the outlined space. The results were beautiful, and I vowed to imitate her technique. It took patience and practice. Later, I colored with my younger sister, Jennifer, and caught myself accusing her of mere scribbling-but we happily colored together for hours. More recently, I color with nieces and nephews at family gatherings and the sensation of a crayon in my hand makes me feel almost like a kid again.

Did you have a coloring book of your favorite movie star, super hero, or video game character? The museum’s collection includes many examples of coloring books, old and new, serious and funny-and we’re always looking for more. But coloring inspiration doesn’t just happen between the covers of coloring books. These days Crayola’s own Web site boasts plenty of printable coloring pages too. At Kids’ Planet you can learn about endangered animal species while you print out their pictures to color, and the PBSKids Web site features some its best-loved characters for coloring.

Or maybe it was the endless possibility of a blank sheet of paper that prompted you to get out the 64-crayon pack. Three-year-old Braden colored this masterpiece at preschool. His teacher may have helped him with the leaf rubbing, but he added his own abstract designs on either side. The work adorned his parents’ refrigerator for months. And Jonah, when he was eight, made this spectacular view of the space shuttle at takeoff. The museum holds few cherished artworks like this one. I’m never sure if that’s because parents can’t part with their child’s masterpiece or whether they’re overwhelmed by the sheer volume of childhood art. Is there a picture with museum potential lurking on the front of your fridge? If so, I’m always eager to consider potential donations to our permanent collection.

Today, coloring is popular with adults as well as with children. Several Web sites feature printable coloring pages specifically for grown-ups and there’s an adult coloring blog available for inspiration. Some adults even make a career out of coloring. For instance, artist Jeffrey Robert demonstrates why coloring with crayons is both fun and ambitious and donated one of his drawings to the museum. He particularly left the picture half-finished to show his technique, but you can see his beautiful and realistic completed crayon creations on his Web site.

It just goes to prove that coloring is timeless and ageless. Crayola crayons are such classics that they were inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 1998. And I’m guessing that, whatever your generation, you have coloring somewhere in your past. If you have a special memory of coloring or a favorite coloring book, we would love to hear about it-or send us a picture (hand-colored, of course)!