I was standing in front of my art cart about a year ago at the UC Davis Children's Hospital, looking over my supplies, organizing them for the day, when a nurse came through the door and began riffling through the coloring books on an adjoining cart. "Do you have anything for a three year old?," she asked. "That's a good question," I thought as I too flipped through the stack of donated coloring books. I saw Spider Man and his assorted cohorts, but nothing that would really be appropriate to a 3 year old's developmental needs. As I walked back to my office, I thought that we could really use a book with healthy images that connects children to the natural world without the inclusion of violence.
When I got back to my office a bit later, I logged on to my email and found a new note from a person that I didn't know, Pauline Molinari, a book editor, asking me if I would be interested in writing the text for a coloring book.
Kismet? Ask and ye shall receive? I was delighted that my unspoken question was answered so promptly. I quickly researched Pauline and the publisher for whom she worked, Walter Foster Jr.(an imprint of Quarto books), and picked up the phone.
Thus began a collaboration between myself, the fabulous illustrator, Stephanie Peterson Jones and Pauline. I was fortunate to have free reign over the structure of the book and decided to focus on 4 of the 5 primordial elements: fire, air, earth and water. (I didn't include ether because, well, you get the picture.)
Over the next several months, we mapped out spreads, I created prompts and Stephanie's illustrations unfolded in response. All the while, I began to see more and more coloring pages emerge on artists' and art therapist's sites. I was excited and after the last prompt was done, the last quotation cited, the last drawing approved, I couldn't wait to hold the book in my hands.
But I did-- until last Friday, when I arrived home from an opening to find a package with the publisher's return address on the label. There, packed neatly, was the quotient of copies promised to me; crisp and ready for crayon wielding fingers.
I'm very pleased with the results and can't wait to share the book with my family and friends. If you'd like your own free copy of Be Happy and Color, leave me a comment at the end of the post. I'll put all the names in my husband's Irish cap and draw one. (And I promise to draw blind.) That fortunate person will receive a package full of inspiration and coloring bliss.