Wednesday, August 25, 2010

For fun, here's an illustration of the ideas I discussed in the last blog, below.  Start with a drawing of a princess.  It might just be colored, for the pleasure of choosing colors and enjoying the fantasy.

 Or, to make the picture more interesting, colors could be blended.

Finally, girls might want to experiment with form modeling-- suggesting shapes by deciding how light would play off the form. 

I think coloring books can be fun, relaxing and interesting for every one old enough to grasp a crayon, including grandmothers.  It would have been fun to give this princess a red dress, a pink dress, a bright turquoise dress, a black dress with pink roses...  But I am getting carried away.  I love coloring.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Why Buy a Coloring Book?

My sister was enthusiastic about my Kat Green Store adventure, partly because she was always on the prowl for a "great" new coloring book for her girls when they were young.  Once, many years ago, her oldest daughter mailed me a picture from one of her coloring books and asked me to color it and return it to her. 

That was a unique request for me, as an aunt, but of course I was very excited to color that picture for little Becky.  She's finishing a fifth year in college now, adding an emphasis in international business to her already impressive academic career. But she is still coloring.  My sister bought a "Jumbo Book for Girls" for both her grown daughters, knowing they would still love them.

There's a school of moms who believe it is stifling for kids to be presented with a fait accompli, with nothing more to do than fill in the existing lines with colors of their choice.  I completely agree that kids should also have finger paints and poster paints with huge butcher paper tablets outdoors where everything can easily be washed down after the painting is finished.  They should have modeling clay and Play Doh and colored paper and scissors with rounded tips.  They should have small sketch tablets and colored pencils, and large sketch tablets and markers. 

So why would we buy them coloring books, as conscientious mothers, aunts and grandmothers?  Quite simply, because we love them-- we love coloring books and we love the little kids who color in them.  Our enthusiasm is contagious, and it exalts the activity in their eyes knowing that Mom/Grandma/Aunty loves to color right along with them.  It is relaxing to choose a picture we like, and set it to music, so to speak, by choosing the beautiful colors that will bring it to life.  I think it is stimulating for a young child to look at the black lines on white paper and convert that pattern to an image of something from life that he or she can recognize or imagine. Even the tiniest of tots can feel a sense of mastery, picking up a crayon and scribbling something new onto the page.  Nothing is more gratifying than watching a child's face as she first makes the connection between her hand, the crayon and the resulting color on the page.  In that moment, in my opinion, she has taken the first step toward literacy.  She has made her mark.  Before you know it, she'll be acing college like our Becky.

Older kids can start to blend colors, to experiment with making secondary colors from the primary colors, and with trying out a bit of gradation in intensity to introduce form modeling into their work.  A coloring book is a great way to start branching out within a familiar format.

It is my hope that coloring Kat Green fairies, princesses and big sisters will be a relaxing, pleasant way for little girls to imagine fun worlds, and to gain confidence in their ability to make beautiful pictures.  I would love it if they decided to use the blank backs of their pictures to draw their own pictures or write something about what they have colored.  I would also be especially pleased if they were to take advantage of the 67 weight cover stock to experiment with media other than crayons.  These books can handle paint or markers, or even glitter glue. 

I sent my five year old granddaughter a set of glitter glue sticks with her birthday coloring book, and she loved the glitter more than the book.  Just a suggestion...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Summer Slide

Reading today about the academic backsliding caused by summer break, I started thinking more about my coloring books.  All the left hand pages are blank, so kids can draw or write.  It has also occurred to me that it might be fun for little girls to have interesting info about real princesses, and even about fairies.  Would that spoil the magic?  I might try it, to see if little girls like coloring books with a bit of narrative.  I'm going to see if I can get some feedback from moms.