I’m writing outside today, sitting on the beach. Wednesday. Sun and wind. The ocean waves have whitecaps on them, and the seagulls are flying cartwheels. Everything right now is shades of blue, white, grey. Ocean. Sky. Birds. The mountains across the strait.
I love colour. It is what I notice first in anything I see. Maybe this is why my favourite birthday or Christmas or anytime gift is a new box of crayons and a colouring book. This has been my favourite gift since I was old enough to grasp and move a crayon across the page.
Right now I have a Hello Kitty colouring book with a red cover, and a pack of 24 Crayola crayons. The points on the crayons are all rubbed down, except for black and white. I have used each of those exactly three times. The rest of the colours are well-loved. When I use them I have to peel off some of their paper covering, a thin strip round and round until enough of the crayon is exposed. I don’t like having the wrapper rub and shred on the page of my colouring book. It feels gritty and rough. It interrupts my crayon-colouring-book reverie.
The purple-pink-cerise and the blue-cerulean crayons, my favourites this week, are broken. Sad accidents, each time. Pressing too hard against the page, trying to make the colour completely solid.
I am always sad when I break a crayon. The funny thing about this–I am exactly the opposite with my pastels. When I pick up a new pastel, the first thing I do is break it in half and pull off its wrapper. I remember someone gasping out loud as I did this during an art show demo.
I have never done this with my crayons. I like them whole.
I love my crayons and I love the possibilities in my colouring book. Black lines on white paper waiting for me to give them life. Rainbow on the page with at least a hundred more than six colours by the time I have finished blending and mixing and layering.
I remember in August each year, in my brand new school supplies, there was a cardboard box of twelve Sargent hexagon crayons. I loved my Sargent crayons. It was the smell of them as I opened the box, and the shape of them in my hand. I remember one of my girlfriends did not like her Sargent crayons. The edges felt sharp against her hand and left lines pressed into the skin of her fingers.
That never bothered me. I loved my Sargent crayons because they were faithful. I never worried about them. I could put them down anywhere on my desk, and they never rolled off and broke on the linoleum floor. They stayed where I left them as I went from one colour to another. Each would be waiting when I put my hand out to pick it up again.
This was necessary, this faithfulness. By the time my colouring was done, I had all twelve crayons out of their box and scattered over my desk top. I used all my colours on every drawing I made.