Earlier this week, I wrote about how Crafty Cora’s representational drawing skills are developing. I was focused on how she is using drawing to record her observations and ideas. As an art educator, I am generally more interested in this work than that which she does on coloring pages, but I’m not opposed to coloring books. I believe they have some value aside from keeping kids occupied, which they can do quite nicely. They provide space to explore color combinations, fine motor development, and can serve as a starting place for more experimental mark-making.
Sometimes Cora and I search online for coloring pages – Peter Pan, sea creatures, or something else she’s into at that moment. Sometimes Cora finds a coloring book in her craft cabinet on her own. This week was it was the latter, focused in a book full of drawings by Eric Carle. (I have to admit this made me feel a teensy weensy bit better than if she were spending time with princesses.)
Cora can’t read yet, so instructions like “Color this cow black and white or brown” were (thankfully) meaningless to her. She approached her work more like a color field painter or tie dye artist. This one is practically an advertisement for Crayola.
This page became space for storytelling. The dots are gun shots. Still pondering where that came from… likely The Fox and the Hound or some other movie. (Ugh. A topic for another time.)
I will never advocate art educators using coloring pages in their classrooms. I have heard of this happening and I can’t help but cringe. We have a lot more to offer than xeroxing, a task anyone can do without specialized studio and pedagogical training. But I have no problem with them in principle. It’s hard to deny the authentic energy of these marks or Cora’s focused attention while making them.
Oh yeah, and she’s staying inside the lines a lot more than before. Not that that matters…at all.