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Growing Up with Crayola

crayola-crayonsEarlier today, I happen to be thinking about Crayola and it really got me thinking about their impact on my life and all the memories, both from my childhood and the kids, that I have around them.  So I thought I’d share some of those thoughts.

One of my earliest memories of school was sitting at my desk and sharing one of those big boxes of Crayola crayons with other kids who’s desks were connected to mine. Despite their being 64 or so Crayons (probably more like 60, because I think we all know a few were always missing and always the exact color you needed) I sat their waiting for a classmate to finish using the Peach colored crayon so that I could finish coloring my picture. I don’t know if I was coloring a family member, a teacher, a friend or myself, but I desperately needed that crayon at that moment. For some reason, that moment is burned in my memory. Of course, it wouldn’t be the last time I’d have to wait for a crayon.

And on the subject of missing crayons, was their anything better than a brand new box of Crayola crayons as a kid? I mean, seriously, all the colors in order and each with a perfect point? I still find myself filled with joy when I open a new box of crayons for Ben and Matt!

When I think back to my childhood and things I played with, I believe Crayola crayons are second only to Legos. However, I remember feeling like a “big kid” when I finally got to use Crayola markers and I think they taught me my first lesson about quality. Whether it was in grammar school or high school, I can remember thinking that when given anything but Crayola markers, I remember being disappointed. There are a lot of poor quality markers and just knew that if they weren’t Crayola, they were likely to be dried up or have a color quality that, for lack of a better word, sucked.

Now that I have children myself, Crayola is central to their interests and learning. My two young sons have had so many interests in their short lives, from dinosaurs to destructive birds to epic space adventures. However, no matter what the subject has been, Crayola has always been the medium that they have used to express enthusiasm. From crayons to markers to Model Magic, Crayola is central to their play and learning. I honestly stand by this. There are a million drawings in our house done with Crayola. There are weird little sculptures made from Crayola Model Magic (and a couple of cute little hand impressions) scattered around our house.

There are just so many times I have heard, “Oh, yeah, come on Matthew, lets get the crayons.” (Ben’s preferred medium is crayon while Matt insists on markers.) And the drawings are of Star Wars characters, Angry Birds, dinosaurs, the New York Giants logo (yeah), each other and so many more things. Their little lives and their little thoughts can be documented in Crayola crayon and marker drawings.

Sure, you can make a case that this could be true of any brand crayon and I’d say that is false. There have been times that the kids have gone to use another brand of crayon and have immediately been disappointed as they are either too waxy to fail to produce the color they expect. It is amazing at how early of an age they have been able to identify quality.

Anyway, I just felt inspired by Crayola today (as I have been so many other times)…I hope you don’t mind me waxing poetic about them (yes, pun intended but I will resist changing the title to “Waxing Poetic About Crayola”).

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The World Famous Artist

whitefedoraPushing your ordinary, everyday shopping cart in behind me at your ordinary, every day supermarket came, apparently, a world famous artist. Although I never saw this man before and had no idea who he was, I knew in an instant he was an artist. For all I know, he could have been a world famous artist, but what I saw was a world famous caricature of an artist.

White pants and a black Hawaiian shirt printed with pictures of a wood panel surf car hung on a short squat frame that indicated he was not the starving kind of world famous artist. He had a long scraggly brown beard that came to a sharp point just above his chest. His eyes were covered by large brown-framed glasses and the whole image was perfected with a white fedora sitting low on his brow. The only thing I didn’t know was what medium this world famous artist played in…but he did not keep that a secret for very long.

“You are a very pretty girl,” he matter-of-factually said to the cashier. And, in this point, he wasn’t lying. She had dark hair that was cast to one side of her head, partially covering her pale, but slightly freckled complexion. Her ice blue eyes seemed to contradict the warm smile that welcomed a smile back. It only took a glance to realize that she too may have been a stereotype of a pretty, hardworking, small town girl just biding her time at a register in an ordinary, everyday supermarket until she could make it big in whatever it was that was her passion.

She smiled sheepishly, dismissing his compliment by focusing on processing my payment. “Yep, you are a beautiful girl and that is coming from a world famous artist, so you know that is fact.” It would be a sweet sentiment if it was indeed a sentiment about her, meant to bring attention to her, instead of a creepy, self serving sentiment meant to bring attention to himself.

You could almost hear the cashier shift gears as she glanced into his cart to determine how long she might have to endure him and how to best handle him…This wasn’t her first encounter with a world famous artist. “Oh really,” she uttered in the same tone of voice I use when my sons start to tell me about a certain yellow cartoon sponge that lives under the sea.

“Yep,” he said, “George William Artiste, World Famous Artist. George William Artiste, painter.” (Name withheld to protect the desperate.)

“Oh wow,” she said with confidence, almost mocking. He continued to repeat who he was as she turned to me to collect my signature on the credit card receipt. I signed, handed it back to her. I looked her in the eyes and gave her a knowing, I-am-so-sorry-for-you smile and said thank you. She seemed to understand my smile and returned the thank you. I told her to have a nice night and walked away as I heard him continue to repeat who he was.

I could only wonder if a world famous artist really needed to remind people that he was a world famous artist.

What Focus Problem?

April 13, 2011 4 comments

As I have previously talked about in this blog, Benjamin has had some problems in school and with his teacher.  One of the issues she has cited is a lack of focus on his part.  The thing he has complained about the most is being bored.  Of course, I have seen no evidence of this, whatsoever(*sigh*).  This is a drawing he did on the back of his schoolwork.  You will notice the math problem in the middle of the Angry Bird’s face, as well as the broken pieces of wood the Blue Bird has just smashed.

Needless to say, when I pulled this out of his folder, it took Andrea and I a good five minutes to stop laughing…You just never expect to see something like this staring at you as you go through your kids schoolwork.  He admitted that the green “C” from his teacher, indicating he solved the equation correctly, was the last think drawn on the page.

Lately, a lot of his school work has come back like this…Some drawings more intricate than others, like, for example, the exploding volcano that has a variety of Angry Birds flying out the top and the piggies fleeing from the base.

On a serious note, this is more evidence that his teacher doesn’t recognize that Ben is bored.  Not only does he have time to do these drawings as the rest of his class finishes their work, but he is also doing the extra work (the simple equation in the center) that the teacher is putting on the board for kids that finish ahead of time.  It seems the only challenge he is getting at school is how to best incorporate the school problems into his drawings.

Dinosaurs …How Cute…Oh Wait…

December 1, 2010 Leave a comment


I love this picture by Ben. However, what looks like a sweet picture of some long-necks eating is actually not so sweet.  You will notice that brown object in the sky…that would be the meteor that is about to kill them all.

Categories: Artwork, Observations