Friday, December 19, 2008

The "Coloring Book Phase"

Every time my mom went on a trip or as a leader to girls camp or would be gone for longer than a night or two she took me to Kings before she left. I would go down to the basement and look at the wall of coloring books. I would debate and debate which one I would get. It was serious business, this business of coloring books. I am almost positive I never chose anything but the jumbo Barbie coloring book. It had Barbie as a cop, Barbie as a chef, Barbie as a dog walker…Barbie and her legs were everything a little girl could possibly ever want to be. And I colored away with my new box of crayons. Mom knew I didn’t like being left behind…obviously a brand new box of 64 Crayola crayons was the way to solve that. Life was a Utopia for me with Barbie and 64 colors such as “macaroni and cheese,” “burnt orange,” and “robins egg blue” by my side.

A few semesters ago my Art Methods instructor (the teacher who teaches me how to become an art teacher) started a class discussion on the negative affects of coloring books, claiming it destroyed creativity. Coloring in the lines is not what artists like Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Picasso had in mind. Enraged students all around me raised their hands in agreement; out-crying at the nerve of those who professed to be a patron of the arts and yet used coloring books, even endorsed them. A large portion of my imagination and a meager piece of my memory brings up a scene comparable to Lord of the Flies and Fahrenheit 451: students throwing bits of colored paper into the air with wild looks on their faces, banning and burning all coloring books to be found, the instructor standing on a table shouting encouragements, students declaring the reason for their failing watercolors lay solely upon the head of coloring books. Utter chaos ensuing. The only freshman in a class full of seniors, I sank in my seat, taking fond memories of coloring books with me.

There has been an internal struggle in me with the idea of coloring books ever since. What would Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Picasso, and other great artists think? Would they be disappointed in a society in which coloring books were part of most every child’s happy younger years? Do they really stifle creativity? I like to think of myself as a creative person, yet I glorified in the day when I was the proud owner of a brand new, blank coloring book.

I’ve decided that when doubt and discouragement strike, not only in a child’s art work, but in life, when it seems nothing you do turns out as beautiful as the picture in your head, wouldn’t it be nice to be handed something where all you had to do is fill in the lines with your favorite colors and have something you were proud of to show for your efforts in the end? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a crutch to lean on and encourage you along until you can leave the thick black lines for a blank canvas?

I still don’t know what Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Picasso would think. But when my kids get to the stage when they realize their drawings of people look more like bacteria than humans and are discouraged and want to break all of their prized “macaroni and cheese” colored crayons, I will gladly hand them a coloring book.

(Just as a side note…Microsoft word recognizes Barbie as a proper noun.)

Saturday, December 13, 2008



12 English papers (6 of them in two weeks)
58 PAGES with over 30 different sources
2 final art projects that took over 30 hours each
4 speeches
10 American classic novels
17 short stories
70 Robert Frost poems
3 sleepless nights in a week and a half
and countless hours of frustration and cursing the English language…

My finals are over and the semester is done!


I would have more enthusiasm if I had the energy.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Curse Modern Cartoons

I’ve come to the source of my lack of creativity and motivation this semester and especially during finals.

Cartoon Network.

My roommate loves Cartoon Network. Said roommate also has only two classes and her chosen activity of choice to fill the void classes, homework and social activities normally satisfy is to watch TV...more specifically Cartoon Network.

Here are a few of my observations of Cartoon Network:

  • Every character has an extremely loud and annoying voice (take Spongebob Square Pants for example).
  • No characters have ankles. I can’t tell you why this bothers me…but it does.
  • There is nothing aesthetically pleasing about Cartoon Network. There are too many bright, uncomplimentary colors and ugly shapes forced together.
  • Plots are stupid. I realize they are cartoons, but seriously. I think I get more stupid each time I walk into my apartment.

How could I possibly learn and write creative and intelligent papers (4 ½ of them) when the sounds of Cartoon Network are carried throughout my apartment and create an environment non-conducive to intelligence?

I can't.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


While I was in Alaska this summer I met the most wonderful 17 year old girl. Her name was Kathrine. Kathrine had a baby exactly a year ago and I sat in a dorm room with her and watched her as she cried and cried telling me the story of giving her baby up to her aunt and uncle to take care of. She had been living with her grandparents who had both died within the last six months and was moving in with her alcoholic father and didn’t want to bring her baby with her. Kathrine loves to do Native Alaskan dancing. This summer Kathrine was the drummer for the group of students who did Native Alaskan dancing because dancing reminded her of her grandparents but still wanted to participate. Our group of mentors and teachers awarded Kathrine a full ride scholarship to the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. I really felt like I had made a positive contribution to this girl’s life. I was so proud of her when I watched her receive her scholarship and wanted to cry when she was so excited she had also been given a graphing calculator because she, like most of the students there, couldn’t afford one. I remember thinking, “This girl is going somewhere and will do something with her life. She’s learned through her mistakes and has her head on straight now. She knows what she wants and won’t let anything get in the way.”

Last night I found out Kathrine is having her second baby this month.

I feel like a failure.

I know its not really my fault, I just feel like I did so much hard work and it made no difference whatsoever. If that program and all of the hard work we put into it could have changed anyone's life it would have been Kathrine.