We spent the day yesterday at a family BBQ, where my little man spent some time absorbed in a blank sheet of paper and a box of colorful crayons, cycling through each one after a satisfying scribble or two. Before I had him, seeing a child purposefully using a crayon was expected, ordinary. But when it’s your child venturing into this primitive form of creative expression — discovering art for the first time — it’s quite monumental. For me at least.
“That one deserves a place on the refrigerator!” someone squealed as he beamed at his creation.
It dawned on me that for the next decade (or more, with future children), a portion of our fridge will be dedicated to pages ripped from coloring books. (Or printed coloring pages, I suppose. But I prefer the portable books.) While barnyard animals and Mickey Mouses are cute and all, there are many more options to further introduce our children to art, fashion and music. The following coloring books are all so extraordinary, you might forgo the fridge and go right to a frame:
RxArt, “Between the Lines Vol. 2″:
The picture at the top of the page (the one from artist Marc Swanson) is from the Flickr page of RxArt, the non-profit organization that compiled the “Between the Lines” coloring books. The second addition was released this year, featuring over 50 line drawings from a variety of contemporary artists like Cynthia Rowley, Takashi Murakami and Ed Ruscha. Not only can our children contribute to these celebrated artists’ work, but the second addition also includes gorgeous stickers designed by Nate Lowman and Mickalene Thomas (see below).
Have you seen the extraordinary Rose Flo coloring books? The newest addition allows children (and parents!) to complete some of the world’s most famous art from da Vinci, Dali, Picasso and many others. There are a variety of other books — mostly for girls but some for boys too — all designed with children in mind. The books are small enough to pack in any bag, and the pages are thick and sturdy to endure the typical wear and tear. What I love most about Rosie Flo is that it’s not just about coloring in blank outlines. The strategic omission of heads, legs and patterns leaves room for endless imagination and creativity.
This is a limited-edition coloring book, handmade and signed by the artist — and it’s only $5. It might not be a replication of fine art, but it’s 48 pages of fun, silly, child-friendly pages that are completely unique. (Hurry and pick up your one-of-a-kind copy at the Etsy shop Sbritt.)
Indie Rock Coloring Book:
(Photos: yellow bird project.)
The Indie Rock Coloring Book isn’t new per se (we featured it in our Holiday Gift Guide), but it’s absolutely worth mentioning again, considering it’s the coolest coloring book of all coloring books. An interactive, creative representation of some of the coolest music out there (Grizzly Bear, Bloc Party, Broken Social Scene and a slew of others), because, yes little ones, there is life beyond Elmo. Plus, all proceeds go to Yellow Bird Project charities.
Andy Warhol Coloring Book:
I wouldn’t hand this over to your toddler, considering it will cost a pretty penny and is quite hard to track down (I found one over at the Etsy shop “Paroliro” for $70), but what a treasure for an older child and child at heart! It’s 24 pages of Andy Warhol. Need I say more?