My Colourful World

At about the age of 5, children are placed in a classroom with Crayola wax crayons and poorly photocopied pages of a cornucopia or pumpkin and are told to celebrate the season of Thanksgiving by colouring! These same pages will be sent home to adorn fridges across the land!

This is our first experience with our “creative” side. Common sense says that the pumpkin should be orange and the stem should be brownish green. The leaves decorating the cornucopia should be autumn blushes and the corn should look freshly harvested; the turkey should be brown and have a glossy, finish.

Most very young school children are armed with flat boxes of wax crayons containing limited colour choices: only one green shade, only one red, etc. The completed artwork looks similar, most children have difficulty staying within those darn lines.

The years go by and the artwork becomes more refined. There are those kids who have been lucky enough to be supplied with those jumbo boxes of wax crayons (you know…. the ones where there are 4 rows of crayons lined up and placed according to shade). Two rows of little wax soldiers standing in the orchestra pit of the box and two rows standing above in the mezzanine. Some of these boxes had SHARPENERS built in!……

The coloured pages decorating the walls of the classroom began to vary. Some children still struggling to remain in the lines; those who were unable to truly express themselves with a box of only 24 crayons and the colours contained therein, and finally those who took advantage of their jumbo box of waxy goodness and freely “expressed themselves”. These are the same kids who were able to colour Mrs. Claus using the “skin” tone crayon, whereas the rest of us tinted Mrs. Claus skin to resemble someone suffering with a biliary blockage.

The divide begins.

At approximately Grade 4 the divide becomes a chasm. Enter…….pencil crayons!

Pencil cases containing sharpened pencils of beautiful pure colour in every shade imaginable.

This is like moving from sanitary napkins to tampons…..there is no going back to wax crayons now.

Grade 4 social studies involve the task of colouring and labeling a world map. The sharp point of the new pencil crayons allows the child to create something quite beautiful. But remember!!!! You have to colour inside the lines because you would literally be invading another country with colour!

I hated these maps.

Not only did it take an inordinate amount of time and required a vast array of tints and hues to label everything properly, there were those creative types who insisted on colouring their maps with enough hand pressure to create a “glossy” look to their masterpiece. Pre-computer, these maps resembled something printed from a laser printer.

How do you decide on the colour for each country. I mean…in some instances, the outlines are so small on the map that it is difficult to distinguish one from the other. You have to though… have to choose shades that are different enough so that you can differentiate between smaller countries like Senegal and Mauritania. If you don’t…..your teacher might assume that you don’t know the difference between Senegal and Mauritania!

Questions creep in……can you use a colour more than once on the map?


Colouring should be joyful and relaxing. Think about it! You are creating something completely different than anyone else. No one would choose the same colour palette; no one would use the same hand pressure as they applied the graphite pigment to the page.

After school I abandoned colouring. Even as a young mom, I never coloured with my children.

Colouring seemed so silly and part of my brain recalled how inadequate I felt handing in my map of the world or some other artwork.

Recently I purchased an adult colouring book. No… is not porn, it is a colouring book filled with pictures that an adult might like. There are no Dora the Explorer outlines or pictures of Minions; instead there are these “mandalas”, intricate shapes and outlines that are challenging.

It is the world map all over again.

So many small outlines within the picture…..the stress begins to build.

My pencil crayons are now finely tipped markers with an endless spectrum of colour at my disposal and yet I begin to stress.


This picture is going to take FOREVER. It reminds me of sewing.

Can I let go of my younger self and my angst and begin to relax as I colour? Can I proudly post my completed picture on the fridge beside the new photo of my grandchild? “Grandma can colour!”.

What does hubby think when he comes home from work and the dining room table is covered with half completed pictures; markers and pencil crayons strewn around?

The answers are “Yes I can” and “who cares”. Yes I can proudly post my crayon art and who cares what anyone thinks about how I am spending my time.

I am grown up now and it doesn’t matter what colours I use or how many times I stray outside the lines. I colour because it makes me happy.

Psst!….Wanna give colouring  a try? You can download a picture to try your hand at adult colouring…join the craze!

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