8 colors

Original package. 1903

We all started out with the basic 8 colors. That’s all we needed.

Introduced by Binney and Smith in 1903, they sold for a nickel, and no doubt had the same fragrance we all remember on opening the box…the smell of wax and joy.

Early on, I obeyed the rules, kept within a neat pattern, never mixing the colors or straying beyond the edges. Those who did not scared me a little.

That all changed.

With time and life experience, the mantra was different. Always color outside the lines. Also known as “think outside the box”, it was a metaphor for creativity, a different approach to life.

Color has always been a reflection of state of mind for me. If you look at photographs, or even into my closet, it is so clear.

There was a lot of black and grey in darker times, beige and brown for when I was trying to disappear. The bold primary colors of yellow, blue and orange were for the happiest times, pastels for the calmest, and red for when I felt powerful and unafraid. White was reserved for summer, giving the illusion of tan on a mostly freckled face. Purple came later, reflecting the royal sentiment of the more mature me.

Working in a professional world dominated by men, I avoided pink at all costs. Then my daughter was born; and I embraced pink for the first time in decades. I hope I have thanked her for that.

A tribute to another kind of color. From the mind of Cyndi Lauper. 1986.

Beautiful, like a rainbow.


This is a re-post from 2014. It was inspired by a comment about recent wardrobe choices that seem to be mostly black and white. Life has not always been so monochromatic.

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58 Responses to Crayola

  1. Maria says:

    I L O V E this post! It made me look at colors in my own life. And like you I avoided pink until my girls came around, for different reasons though. And after have gone through the black, blue, green and purple years. I am now embracing turquoises, it brings me so much peace and creativity. And it is the color i connect to my start as a teacher student. a happy moment where I found a huge part of myself. I even remember wearing a turquoise sweater the first time I was a teacher temp. Colors are so powerful, and you put it into such a great perspective โค thank you!

  2. Lovely post, Van. I often complain about the lack of color in DC. Everyone wears black or something dull… Let’s liven that up with a pop of tan! (eye roll). I have to have colors, or I honestly don’t feel well. So here I sit (in a post meeting break) rebelliously in my hot pink top. ๐Ÿ˜€
    What you said about embracing pink was terrific. My favorite is green, but the information technology field is still male dominated. Pink it proud, my friend.

  3. What I enjoyed most about this post was the realization how different men and women think. I consider myself much more emotional and willing to express these emotions more than most men. Often, it helps convey my passion for living. With all that said, I have never considered my wardrobe and the potential subliminal impact it has played on my life. Your post gave me a chance to do a little introspection which was fun. I have concluded (after evaluating my wardrobe) I am a little tedious and conservative. Actually, put a smile on my face! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Glad for the smile. It seems most of the men in my life would fall into that conservative line. Maybe not in the “play” clothes, though. Golf shirts in yellow, red show up around here to balance out the blue, tan, black. Thanks for playing, Doc.

  4. I loved this post. I cannot imagine a life without colour. My wardrobe is full of bright hues and flowers galore๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. You know you took us back to the days. The smell is fresh all over again. And yes, every color has its own energy. I hated pink most of my life but am so glad you came to embrace it for the reasons you did!

  6. bone&silver says:

    As I read this here in Australia, I smelt the smell of those crayons! Amazing trigger to a childhood delight, thanks ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

  7. Colours do have a great effect on our feelings. THe crayons look nostalgic indeed…. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Again I am puzzled by this black theme. I LOVE color!! Geesh! I had a post about how these bikers are wearing black and how dangerous it is. Man o’live! I have every color under the rainbow in my closet and yes pink is in there although now with the age thing, I don’t wear it much anymore. I Love pink and grey together … sharp! And as for coloring I always made sure I stayed in the lines. Always. What does that say about me? I was just so particular about that and still am today. Huh. LOL ๐ŸŒน

  9. Ron Walker says:

    Great post, 8 colors were enough back then. I looked at the adult color book. Too much detail to be relaxing to me, but each to their own. I know many that really enjoy coloring and use the expensive pencils also.

  10. I think back to the hippie days with all those psychedelic colors. Even the cars were nice, bright hues. These days I wear blacks, grays and whites like everyone else, but that’s mostly because my figure isn’t what it was back in my hippie days. I was disappointed, though, when I bought my last 2 cars, and the only color options were black, white, gray, silver – and of course, red. But even the red was muted.

    I also have a coloring book (Anne Belov’s “The Panda Chronicles Coloring Book”) and The Big Box of Crayolas (64-count, woo-hoo!). But it seems a shame to actually color Anne’s beautiful drawings.

    • I wore a lot of black, even as a young teen in those psychedelic, pre-Goth days, when I was trying to gain weight to reach 100 lb. You’re so right about those car color options. Back in the 70’s, I had a yellow car ! That 64 count pack…woo hoo is right ! Thanks, CM.

  11. An excellent take on what colour says about us

  12. I love this post! Wonderful! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. amommasview says:

    I love this post so much! You used the colors to explain those different stages so well ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. I also love this post. It brought back one of the good memories of childhood: opening a box of crayons and playing with colors. I like vivid colors and use them in my art. I used to wear brighter colors but they don’t seem to work as well when we get older. Maybe that’s a personal bias. I tend to wear black You can’t mess up black. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. lbeth1950 says:

    I’ll always remember the smell and taste of those crayons. Have to admit, I peeled the wrappers off and chewed them up. I tried eating the colors, but sadly, the colors didn’t come in different flavors as it looked. I didn’t like the bland shades, just the brilliant. I loved the bright yellow, but was disappointed it didn’t show up on white.

  16. Ann Koplow says:

    Thank you for all the beautiful colors of this post.

  17. Excellent post.. colours are so revealing, And it is only now I embrace those more vivid colours in life.. And it is true we are so I would wear Navy and white, suits in later life.. very rare a bright blouse.. Now although I wear earth colours alot.. My wardrobe has become much more cheerful as I have come to love myself more.. LOL
    May you continue to colour outside the Lines dear Van..

  18. Pingback: My Picks Of The Week 2017 – #31 | A Momma's View

  19. Millennials in general, are really into grays. My son and his wife just bought a home in Chicago and it’s all white and gray. I mean everything. And while those colors could be a wonderful backdrop for splashes of color, they don’t have any. A bit depressing and sort of institutional looking…

    And they dressed our grandson in lots of grays and muted colors when he was a baby – designer baby stuff you know… ZZZzzzz….. And our granddaughter’s “home from the hospital” outfit looked like a drab prison outfit. But I’m very glad to report that she does have some pink, violet and floral outfits now (and looks adorable!) ๐Ÿ™‚ And the grandson is looking a bit more perky too!

  20. dgkaye says:

    Loved the metaphors Van. I do love that there are now so many colors in the Crayola pack. I’ve always expressed myself with color too. Many times black will do, but most other times, it’s colorful dressing for me. ๐Ÿ™‚ x

  21. Great post, Van. How fun to recall those childhood crayon days. I remember the excitement when I got my first box of 64. I didn’t really care for those coloring books, so there were few “lines” to say within (as long as I stayed on the paper – lol).

    HOWEVER, I want to insert a plug for black, white and grey, etc. here.

    Those of us who are highly distractible and/or struggle with organization and follow-through are well served by “toning down” our color-palette so that decision-making is simplified and we aren’t chronically distracted by those “bright pops of color” that so many folks find enlivening.

    I have tried to explain this SO many times to my color-obsessed buddies who are sure that my black wardrobe is boring or an indication of depression that could be “fixed” with more color (kidding with the judgment – BUT, if I were to do what they do, that’s what I’d call their love of color) Make wrong is make wrong, however well-intended, and everybody has his or her own preferences and reasons for them that deserve to be respected.

    As the ADD Poster Girl, most of my wardrobe is black – by design and by preference. I *sometimes* work in color with scarves and a few bright toppers or hats — but, for the most part, I want what I’m wearing to “fade into the background” so I can focus on my surroundings otherwise without debiting cognitive resources to do so.

    The filtering and focusing area of the ADD/EFD brain isn’t as “automatic” as it is for “vanilla” brains (i.e., no mix-ins, like with the ice cream). When I traveled frequently, it made packing *possible* for me! Everything went with everything – no thinking and no fear of forgetting some little part of an outfit that might have been a dark moment in my trip – so no agonizing.

    Make sense? My craving for variety comes with shapes, not colors. I have always loved all shades of pink, btw – especially HOT pink, but only in moderation and in certain environments. I once had a pink and grey bedroom I absolutely adored. Lovely and calming. But primaries don’t serve me very often. Different strokes for different folks.

    Likewise, my “live-in couch” (a sectional) is slip-covered in a calm forest green – with a few burgundy throw pillows for accents. I keep that “shades of red and green” color palette going in the rest of my home, preferring to soothe rather than excite: sage & mauve bedding, black and white background with deep green & burgundy (or sage & pink) towels in my bathroom, etc. I don’t want to have to readjust visually as I move from room to room. Everything goes great at Christmas time too – my favorite time of year.

    I stand for everyone surrounding themselves what they, personally, resonate with best. When one of my best friends was alive I used to kid him that his favorite color was “parrot” – but I would never have suggested that his life would be improved by toning down the color.

    I know you are not prescribing your preferences for others here, btw, but I wanted to take the opportunity for increasing understanding by opening the color paradigm a bit with my comment for anyone who reads it. Maybe it should have been a blog post – lol. ๐Ÿ™‚
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    • Thank you for such a thoughtful response, that could indeed be a post, M. There is so much here I can relate to…especially the idea that staying with a few neutral colors allows to coordinate…with everything, both in wardrobe and in the home. I used to complain about so many earth tones, but the truth is, they do not get old, and can be enhanced/changed easily. I wore a lot of black as a young adult and I remember folks taking me shopping, trying to convince me to look for brighter colors. I always thought that clothing was merely an accessory, and that I provided the color. Thanks for your perspective, I appreciate the time you took to compose this response.

      • Thank YOU for receiving it as intended. I will, no doubt, do a blog post using color as a frame for a few points at some time in the future. I’ll link back here when I do so.

        I’m with you on your attitude about where the REAL color comes from. I wouldn’t be too happy if I felt that my clothing upstaged me. lol

  22. vinnieh says:

    I really loved how personal this post felt, you wrote straight from the heart. And we all need colour in out lives.

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