I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way.
It’s funny what events in life will trigger memories.
The other day as I was getting dressed, I pulled out a red t-shirt. I have a lot of red t-shirts and am always looking for more.
Then I reached in and grabbed a pair of orange underwear.
My first thought was that I couldn’t wear orange and red together.
Not that I’d be showing my underwear. I have a belt and I know where to wear it.
It’s just that I remember the words of Miss Lila, my first grade teacher.
We were coloring one day and she said “never put orange and red next to each other.”
For years I didn’t.
It’s not that I put stock in everything Miss Lila told us.
I started first grade the day the schools in my home county were desegregated.
One of my other first grade memories is Miss Lila telling us “I can read ‘Little Black Sambo’ to you today because Robert isn’t here.”
That’s a true story.
I’m not sure why she had a problem with orange and red.
As an artist and graphic designer, I happen to like the combination of orange and red.
It’s even better when you stir in a little blue with the red and get a nice orange and maroon combo. Go Hokies!
Miss Lila told us the no red and orange “rule” long before the rainbow was widely used on flags. Let’s not even speculate what she might have said about that.
But surely she knew the story of the ark.
And somewhere along the line she must have met Roy G. Biv.
One of my other first grade memories was that I could write my name with my left hand, but I was forced to use my right. My Mother doesn’t remember that story so maybe I just made it up because my handwriting was so poor.
To this day if I want to write legibly, especially in cursive, it must be slow and deliberate.
For much of my early education my teachers also didn’t think I had much promise in the drawing department. But I was stubborn enough to keep trying.
Still, it’s true all these years later that I do better with design and layout than I do with sketching. Again, unless I do that slowly and deliberately.
There’s a life lesson in that somewhere.
Maybe one day I’ll write about that.
For now I’m going back to my coloring books.
Pass the orange.
And the red.