Monday, June 30, 2008

Worshipping Crayola crayons

As a child, just about my favorite thing to do was look at color. In kindergarten, my teacher passed me a prism and I was simply rapt. Nothing was more beautiful to me than standing in the sun, twisting around the triangular glass, and watching the rainbow dance on the sidewalk. Stunning.

I got my first lesson in color from this prism, and although I could not then have drawn a color wheel, I understood intrinsically that the colors in my Crayola crayon box should be ordered:

Red
Orange
Yellow
Green
Blue
Purple
Brown
Black

And they always were. My personal mantra encompassed these colors. Others might pray with a rosary, but my prayer beads were wax cylinders placed in perfect order in a small gold and green box. Honestly, I could rattle off these color names faster and easier than my home address.

Now, you might wonder what about all those really cool colors like Magenta, Raw Umber, and Carnation Pink. I never got those colors, dammit. My mother insisted on buying me the mega-cheap, eight-pack Crayola crayons. My best friend, Janice, however always had a fresh 64-color Crayola crayons box. I was perpetually Pine Green with envy. (Or was it Sea Green???)

The 60s Crayola tagline was "They work on brains, not batteries." What a message for today's kids! Watch this Crayola ad from back in the day.

According to Wikipedia, the original color line up for Crayola's 1960's 64-color box was: BLACK, ORANGE, APRICOT, AQUAMARINE, BITTERSWEET, BLUE, BLUE GRAY, BLUE GREEN, BLUE VIOLET, BRICK RED, BRILLIANT ROSE, BROWN, BURNT ORANGE, BURNT SIENNA, CADET BLUE, CARNATION PINK, COPPER, CORNFLOWER, FLESH, FOREST GREEN, GOLD, GOLDENROD, GRAY, GREEN, GREEN BLUE, GREEN YELLOW, INDIAN RED, LAVENDER, LEMON YELLOW, LIGHT BLUE, MAHOGANY, MAIZE, MAROON, MAUVELOUS, MELON, MIDNIGHT BLUE, MULBERRY, NAVY BLUE, OLIVE GREEN, ORANGE-RED, ORANGE-YELLOW, ORCHID, PERIWINKLE, PINE GREEN, PLUM, RAW SIENNA, RAW UMBER, RED, RED ORANGE, RED VIOLET, SALMON, SEA GREEN, SEPIA, SKY BLUE, SILVER, SPRING GREEN, TAN, THISTLE, VIOLET, VIOLET BLUE, VIOLET RED, WHITE, YELLOW, YELLOW GREEN, YELLOW ORANGE.

My whole life would have been different if I could have had another 56 colors. I swear it.

And then there's this: British artist Jamie Shovlin's whirling dervish of a Crayola color wheel. According to David Rainbird, Slovin has sorted his crayons by "hue in an attempt to form tetrads - combinations of colours from four equidistant points around the circle that when combined create perfect greys. There are 720 possible tetrad combinations with this many Crayolas and although Shovlin started the combinations, he gave up after trying out about twenty or so."

What a wonder! I'd love to have this hanging in my office offering daily inspiration. I couldn't find a better mandala if I tried.

So thank heaven for Crayola crayons. But most of all, thank God for color - all 64 of them in the elusive box set - and every other hue besides.

4 comments :

mia said...

I *love* that poster. any ideas where I could find one?

Julie Matthews said...

I wish, Mia! I'd love to have one, too. If you find a copy, please let me know. I'd love to have it in my office.

Thanks for the comment!
Julie

mia said...

I asked Crayola about it, and this is their reply:

Dear Crayola Consumer,

Thank you for your recent inquiry.

I am sorry to disappoint you, however, Crayola does not manufacture a poster with this design. We have researched the information you have given us and found that this is framed artwork created by Jamie Shovlin. I believe the name of the artwork is called In Search Of Perfect Harmony.

We appreciate your contact. If additional assistance is needed, you may reach us by telephone at (800) 272-9652 weekdays between 9 AM and 4 PM Eastern Time or e-mail by visiting Crayola.com.

Best wishes for a colorful future!

Colorfully yours,

Mechelle Hann
Consumer Affairs Representative
CRAYOLA

Julie Matthews said...

Mia, wow! I'm impressed with both Crayola and you. Thanks for writing to them. I'd still love to have the print. If you ever find it's in print, please let me know. Thanks, Mia.