Sunday, May 1, 2016

colour outside the lines, I dare you.

I grew up obsessed with painting and colouring in. And I still have the small tin of Caran d’Ache coloured pencils my gran bought me when I was about 11 - just a dozen colours, but so rich, so lovely. So precious. I purposefully kept them for “best” (which is probably why I still have them 40 years later) whilst having worn out countless hordes of cheap ones, and handfuls of drawing pencils.

“Best”?

Looking back, I think that response was a teensy bit strange… Why didn’t I just burn through and enjoy them?
No money…Worried I’d never see their like again?
Maybe I didn’t think what I drew was worthy of them?
I do remember that I couldn’t bear to wear them out.
And that I was very unhappy if I couldn’t keep paint or colour inside the lines.
Hmmm…

Go on, let go of the lines... Colour wherever you like! You know you want to. Picture and photo: Christine Pedersen. 2016.


I was recently directed to this TED article  examining the value of the colouring-in trend, and asked for comment. I set my mind to “curious” because, being a working artist and erstwhile scientist, if some people are enjoying/employed creating drawings—that's their art—and still other people enjoy colouring the pictures in—THEIR art—then what should get between them?

My researcher spidey-senses are always on alert for the hyped-up, feel-good, and phoney… But after reading the article I was thrilled to report back that—in an evidence-based nutshell—colouring-in is good for us. Well colour me tickled pink.

Fortunately a grown-up salary and a generalized art material obsession got me a massive tin of the lust-worthy Caran D’Ache. So. Many. Colours. Water-colour pencils—they draw and paint, they get sharpened often and need really tough paper (like Arches) so that I can push the wet and dry colour layers to the physical limits the paper can endure.

And there are no more lines. I realized I didn’t like being inside them any more than my younger self dis-liked going over them. Sod the lines, they just get in the way of the colour. 

Smiles to self: happy to colour outside of the lines.

I realize that first tin of coloured pencils has morphed into something else: a precious link to my nan, and I'll probably never wear them out. But I do use them occasionally, just to feel like that kid again.


1. I’ve been trying to find the range of historical costume books that I loved so much… This looks very much like the ones I used to save up my pocket money for: http://store.doverpublications.com/0486413209.html

2. What brand of pencils is “best”? I have no idea. I love my pencils, and my grown-up heart tries to walk gently with my so-eager-to-please younger self, and I'm really quite brand loyal: http://store.carandache.com/int-en/574-supracolor-soft-aquarelle-assortiment-80-couleurs.html