Never Too Old for Crayons

Fulvous | Rod Jones Artist

Never Too Old for Crayons: don’t believe me? Go out and buy a box; grab a few sheets of paper from your printer, and start drawing anything that comes to your mind. A tree would be nice, maybe a house on a hill, maybe your family, stick figures will work here. And oh yes cars, trucks and baby dolls. You may be having flashbacks at this point. Every box of crayons is enchanted, every color spellbounding. Every drawing you make is charmed with your own dreamy imagination, it mesmerizes you, and in some cases others. Crayons become supernatural in the hands of a child, and if you have become too colorless and monochromatic in your own life, they will help you transcend years of unimaginativeness, unsensational and uninspiring creativity.

Crayons have an uncanny ability to mediate difficult situations. Several years ago my wife Inci (Angie) and our daughter, went to a business meeting that had the potential to be uncomfortable for all parties. The meeting was held in one of those tall corporate buildings near Century City, in Los Angeles. The meeting room was large and grand, with a conference table the size of the proverbial barge, the kind people always joke about. This was one of those meetings where we had to take our daughter with us, because we had no babysitter at the time. But the truth is, we almost always took her to meetings, it was fun for her, and it was fun for my wife and I to get her feedback. The business people that attended the meeting cautiously said they didn’t mind as long as she was not disruptive. We knew she would be well mannered. She knew how to behave in these situations because she often accompanied us to various meetings.

The meeting was regarding a direct response TV campaign, and it was attended by about seven people plus the three of us. These were people in the meeting that were well-known in the industry, and one of them was a famous Russian ballerina who had danced with the Bolshoi and was also often partnered up with Baryshnikov. She had been retired from ballet for several years but she was still active in that industry. As the meeting went on, and the discussions took the shape of posturing and negotiating, our daughter, who was sitting at the end of the conference table moved closer so she could be sitting next to her mother. Which put her squarely across the table from the well coiffed ballerina.

Although the Russian ballerina was never a mother she watched our daughter with a nurturing look. Our daughter had a big box of crayons in front of her and a stack of paper, she was busily drawing the images that often pop into a child’s head. Of course, a picture of her mommy, daddy and her kitty and her bicycle. She looked up at the ballerina and the other mostly male attendees of the meeting, and decided that they may benefit from doing a little coloring themselves. Of course no one was about to deny her request, and the first one to accept a clean sheet of paper and a handful of crayons was the ballerina; and what did she start to draw? You guessed it, she drew a ballerina in an arabesque position.

Before long everyone was relaxed, chatting away, and busily drawing all kinds of stuff with their crayons. Everyone became most cordial, the room began to be filled with laughter and a generous amount of camaraderie. The meeting? Well it went very well and I heard from these various attendees years later. They all agreed, our daughter and that box of crayons is a memory they will cherish throughout their lives.

A box of crayons and a few sheets of paper can reduce anxiety and stress better than any medicament. No matter your age, you no doubt spent some youthful time with a box of crayons. Their tactile, and their wafts carry a memorable scent. Just about everyone had one of their creations displayed proudly by a parent or guardian on the door of a refrigerator. This in my way of thinking, starts the process of building self-esteem in a child.

When are you too old or too sophisticated to color? The TV show Jeopardy, that has been watched by millions, and hosted by Alex Trebek is a good example of the calming and centering affect coloring can have on us humans. It was recently reported that Alex Trebek colored while he was taping jeopardy. This simple act of doodling, no doubt helped him maintain a grounding that is invariably associated with his professionalism and calmness. Unfortunately he has since passed away, but besides all of his accomplishments, he will be remembered by those that worked with him, that he could be quite creative when directing various colors onto paper from his box of crayons.

An art director and her box of crayons. Some years ago when I was a commercial photographer. I worked with an art director who always brought her layouts to my studio, which described how a particular project was to look photographically. The surprising thing was she created all of her designs using crayons. There are many sophisticated ways nowadays to do layouts for photography. But I used to love her creative design concepts. Her innovations and her beautiful gift of coloring was charming. I don’t think photographically we could ever truly match the beauty of her renderings, and I suspect some of those ultimately became collectibles. She was in her mid-40s if I remember right, and she had been coloring ever since she could remember, and reported to me that she plans on coloring for the rest of her life. As she stated to me on many occasions; “Rod, crayons are a source of creativity that will never let you down, and they are always ready when you are.”

Whenever I write about crayons I receive many responses from people of all ages, telling me how they have a box of crayons, some they keep in their work desks, others on hand to doodle while they watch TV. Generally speaking they all agree on one thing, it’s a great way to reduce stress. If you don’t have any crayons around. They are readily available just about everywhere you shop, from grocery stores to stationery stores. If you haven’t shopped for crayons in many years, you’re going to be overwhelmed by all the choices you now have. If you don’t do anything else, next time you’re shopping, look for crayons and try to resist the temptation to own a set for yourself, almost all of us have printing paper at the ready, grab a couple sheets and color away.

Are crayons high-tech? They certainly are one of the most recognized brands in the world, and technically they are designed to function perfectly in the hands of a very young child, all the way to the most senior of senior citizens. Besides all that; they are a wonderful tool to sketch your ideas on the back of a napkin. They never need charging, they take up very little room. There are many many colors to choose from, so your sketches will be beautifully unique. You could literally redesign  Buckingham Palace, you would just need a stack of paper, at the ready, you could even use the back of a printed document you pitched into your office wastebasket. Low-tech… high-tech… the crayon is not as humble as you might think.

I believe everyone is creative, but sometimes we can get a little stale or we even stop thinking creatively. You don’t need to spend tons of money on art supplies. You can get a box of crayons and just start doodling at first, and then draw something; by the way, crayons are great when it comes to creating abstract art, and there’s a ton of colors to choose from. Creative thinking starts with a seed of originality, a scribble can turn into the idea of the century. When you see what you draw, it looks back at you with boastful pride, and says to you, in all of its color and glory; look at me… you just did this in a most excellent manner.

“A triggered imaginative thought is the perpetual reward— hidden: but easily found in a box of crayons.”

No matter what you do for living, crayons can help you be more creative, and with the added benefit of reducing stress. Just playing, and coloring is a form of play, you will travel back to a time period of joyance and innocence. A time when you were not so judgmental of yourself and maybe of others. The first mark you initiate on a clean white sheet of paper will fill you with an unmatched, inexpressible lightheartedness. Now I won’t say it’s better than an ice cream cone in some cases, but then again, ice cream cones disappear quickly. A box of crayons will last a lifetime.