Friday, July 16, 2010

Crayons and Pastels

Yesterday I indulged my child within.

It began on Wednesday when I decided to take BART to work. I had my camera with me the two previous days, but today, I did not. I was looking out the window at the familiar surroundings as they passed by, and I saw two trees and something below them, a border of some sort—the image in total was a face looking back and smiling at me. I hadn’t remembered it this way on the countless rides I’ve taken. Even if I had my camera, I wouldn’t have had time to unpack it. I reached for my notebook to jot down the image that I saw. Goodness me, I had changed bags and forgot to put a pen or pencil in the new one. Instead I kept revisualizing the image as I rode along, so that when I arrived at work, I would quickly pencil it on a post-it note page and attach it to my little notebook.

The sketch here was my attempt at capturing what I saw and then it shaped itself into what you see here. I have used the new pastels and new crayons, but mostly it’s done in pastels.

I had also been thinking of Crayola crayons this week. They have a distinct scent—like candle wax that has been dipped in the rainbow—and the sound, the sound of crayons when their home is a plastic or cardboard box, that wonderful sound of fishing through the box, wax pebbles shifting against each other, in search of the right color.

All of this scoops me back to my childhood and an image that I had forgotten appears—my grandparents, and how I would ask them to color in my coloring book. When I looked at the finished product, I was taken aback with how they mixed the colors by putting complementary colors side by side and other colors that I wouldn’t think to put together. They seemed to color three-dimensionally and made the pages come alive.

Back at work and time for a break. I walk the blocks, opening myself to the hot day, glancing at the usual stores and boutiques, and then I see a new store—a toy store! I wait for the cars to pass and run across and enter. Immediately I see that they carry many classic items, such as magic trick kits, Silly Putty, robots made from tin—and of course regular toys, but I’m interested in the little novelty items. My attention is draw to a prism where you can hold it to the sun and see how light bends. I walk to where they have art type supplies. I don’t need supplies, but I can’t help myself. They have a small container of pastels in a plastic holder that snaps shut and a box of erasable crayons. I don’t care that they are erasable, but I like the look of them, they are tall and slender with no paper—exposed; and you can see from the picture on the box, they have a different texture on the paper. I have my Crayola crayons at home, but I still entertain buying this box.

I took my items up to the counter: Small container of 12 oil pastels (that I also don’t need); set of 15 erasable crayons—both by Faber-Castell, which on the package says they’ve been around since 1761—that’s a long time; refracting prism; silly putty; and a small object that you can twist into a ball and then into a circle that looks like a flower. For now, I put this twisty toy on the counter at work to indulge the child within the boss.

At the store counter, they had countless other odds and ends, loads of Japanese erasers, which caught my fancy, but I had to restrain myself. I actually used to love collecting erasers when I was a child. I remember the smell of them too, as I write this. Ahh…memories. Scents and memories.


keiko amano said...


Walking around is definitely better than driving for many reasons if we don't need to go far away. I can see you go into the store and check crayons and all. I, too, cannot help myself, but love to look at them for hours even if I need a few basic items. I think I know the eraseable crayon. Thin, right? Not me. I rather get the basic kind and be brave!

Rebb said...

Keiko, Yes walking is definitely better. I used to walk more and I would ride my bike to work. Lately, I don't do it as much as I would like. I like taking the stairs at work. I only have two short flights, but I am very surprised that so many people take the elevator from floor two to floor one. Isn't that mind boggling?

Looking is certainly lots of fun. When I was a little girl, I would always ask my mom if we could go to the stationary store or any store that had paper and pens. Sometimes, she would wait in the car and I would go in and have fun. I wish the crayons I bought were not erasable. Yes, they are thin. Only reason I bought them is because they were different and I was in having fun :) I didn't use the eraser. It's still in the package. But yes, I have my big box of the basic crayons. I will probably use them next and see if I'm feeling inspired and brave—hehe.

keiko amano said...


You are like my daughter. She used to spend hours in stationary stores especially in Japan.

Yes, it is mind boggling about taking elevator or escalator for just one level. In train stations and other buildings in Japan, we often need to use short staircases. If an escalator is available, most Japanese wait in a long line to take that escalator. And young people are among them. But those people seem mostly skinny. I take stairs most of the times because I'm concerned about my weight. But so far, I cannot say I became skinny.

Rebb said...

Keiko, I can just imagine how lovely a Japanese stationery store is. I can see so many different types of pretty stationery in my mind. I love Origami paper, even though this might not be in stationery store? I made a small boat once from the instructions. But mostly, I enjoy looking at and feeling the Origami paper. I admire the beautiful Origami pieces that I’ve seen, but I don’t have the patience to learn.

You seem to walk a lot. Maybe more so in Japan? It’s good you take the stairs most of the time.

keiko amano said...

Yes, origami is in stationary stores as well as other stores like bourtiques, supermarkets, and so on.