Gray is Gray

Remember burnt sienna?  That’s always the first color I think of when I see a tiered box of 64 Crayola Crayons.  I don’t know why.

The Crayola box of 64 is 50 years old.  If you click here you can go to an interactive quiz of all the color names.  It’s really fun.

An open box of 64 sits in front of me as I write.  I started to take it downstairs the other day for Adaline.  Then I remembered her mother’s warning:  “Buy washable crayons, Mom.”  She probably learned that lesson the hard way.

Does Crayola still include a burnt sienna crayon?  I pulled out all the brownish crayons to read the names–


brown (not kidding)



brick red

bittersweet (huh?)

raw sienna (?)

burnt sienna!

“Sienna is a natural earth containing ferrous oxide that is used as a yellowish-brown pigment when untreated (raw sienna) or a reddish-brown pigment when roasted (burnt sienna)”,  according to  Didn’t you always wonder?

Do you find it sad that brown is “brown” and gray is “gray” in my box of 64?  Remember “magenta”?  It’s in the red family.  So are “wild strawberry” and “red”.  I found a “violet red” and a “red violet”.  They are not the same color.

The name on each crayon, not capitalized, is listed in English, Spanish, and French.  They didn’t have that when I was a kid.

On the other hand (it’s a pun–you’ll see)…

Suzi Weiss-Fischman, OPI [nail polish]Executive VP & Artistic Director explains that her recent cross country road trip inspired these destination shades. Colors feature clever names inspired by some of her favorite stops like A-taupe the Space Needle, a rich chocolately brown and French Quarter for your Thoughts, a soft grey hue.  Others reference what it feels like to be on the road like Get in the Espresso Lane with its dark brown color, and Are We There Yet?, a cheerful melon.

I love America.

I use crayons and markers and Model Magic (new-age clay) when I lead retreats.  For adults.

I always include at least an hour of silent free time.  Sometimes I use mandalas (a circular meditation/prayer tool) to make coloring a bit more sophisticated.  I have a book called Praying in Color.  It really makes coloring seem important.

Adults like to color.  Even men, I’ve learned.  I wonder if anyone ever colors on their own after the retreat.

Why is it so hard to give ourselves permission to play?

Published in: on October 31, 2011 at 2:19 pm  Comments (6)  
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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. As an art student the color names went from crayons to Prismacolor pencils–Prismacolor makes hundreds. In my current box of just 72 are Poppy Red, Ginger Root, Parrot Green and Lime Peel–although I must admit, I had to search for names as good as those given to Crayola crayons.

    To an impoverished art student (a redundant phrase) the purchase of a pencil in a new color was a great mood lifter–who knew what that new color might make possible?

    • I’ve seen some of those pencils–lovely!
      I think it’s funny how Crayola crayons trigger so many memories.
      Thanks for reading, Adrian.

  2. Why is it so hard to give ourselves permission to play? For me, it is the to do list — the groceries, the laundry, cleaning the kitchen, scooping the cat’s litter box, answering the question “what’s for dinner?”, etc. etc. etc. I think I still have my original box of 64 crayons that I was given as a child. I’ll have to see if I can find them.

    • I think you’re right. It’s the “no dessert till you eat your vegetables” mindset.

  3. When I used to coach high school students in academic contests, as soon as we arrived at the site of the contest, I would pull out a big box of crayons and some paper. Coloring really relaxed them and enabled them to excel in competition, much more than any last minute coaching could have done.

    • I love that!
      I have known those high-strung competitive smart kids. The picture of them coloring makes me smile.

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