Not long ago I had the occasion to page through a coloring book that had been completed by the small child of a friend. Not sure of the child’s age, but this youngster had been unusually exacting in her work. She had carefully filled in the empty spaces of each and every cartoon character, tree and flower exactly to the bold black lines of their respective borders.
I think it takes a special kind of person to do this, that is, one who is especially meticulous, patient and attentive to detail. I would be inclined to believe that that this little girl will grow up to be an accountant or maybe an engineer.
My friend’s other small child, a boy in this case, and a little older than his sister, also has a coloring book. From viewing these two coloring books, one would never guess these two children were related. The first few pages were at least somewhat similar to those of his sister’s in that he had obviously attempted to keep the sharp point of the Crayola inside the borders of each subject. But, as I flipped through the pages, I could see his attention to this constraint was deteriorating noticeably. By page three, he had begun filling in the spaces with short bursts of swatches, left to right, with ample leakage over the borders. By the fifth page, he had regressed to broad sweeping motions with a flattened tip that seemed to indicate that he considered the borders to be no more than mere suggestions. I am guessing this youngster will grow up to be a guitar player.
Interestingly, the work in both books was actually quite attractive. The little boy’s colorations, although splashy and unkempt, offered more of an impressionist’s view of his subject. All of the sweeping lines of color were evenly distributed for the most part and when one held the pictures at arm’s length, they were quite pleasant to the eye. He had not given up on his project. He had merely discovered, through trial and error, what he considered a better way to accomplish it.
The little girl’s artwork was also appealing. In her case, the crayon lines were almost unnoticeable since she had used a very light and even pressure throughout. Thus, the renderings were especially delicate in tone. Interestingly, though, one could not help but notice that her color selections were not exactly what one might expect. For example, one page depicted a small girl sitting under a spreading tree while reading a book. Our little artist had opted for a light blue for her blouse and a navy blue for her skirt—and then finished her off with pink socks, black shoes—and deep purple hair. These colors blended together quite nicely, but the purple hair was a push. I have a suspicion there may be a guitar player in there somewhere trying to get out.