Colors. Some can see red, pink, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. But, I … I see light yellow, I see lime green, seafoam green, cerulean, carmine… I see golden yellow, and sunset orange, and ultramarine blue.
Not everyone knows, but each pencil has engraved on the side, close to the top where it cannot get sharpened away, a unique code. I learned this early and I used to sit on the living room floor with dozens of my mom’s color pencils in front of me. I would spend innumerable hours putting them in order and observing how beautiful they looked when arranged together.
I now believe that by doing this, I slowly developed the ability to distinguish hues and shades. This practice evolved into the habit of color coding and creating gradients wherever I can, and it nourished a close relationship between me and… color. For me, there are few feelings like that of walking into an art store and looking at the wall where yarns and markers and oil paints are organized in gradients. Colors awaken a side of me that is sensitive, careful, and patient.
This summer I had the opportunity to share the love that I have for colors, with different students in Arusha. In the picture you can see Jesca from Meru Primary School sitting next to a row of pencils that we arranged together. We first read the name on every pencil and colored randomly in a piece of paper so that we could compare it to others of the same hue. Jesca quickly realized blue is not just blue and yellow is not just yellow. Sharing this quirkiness of mine, this passion of mine, with Jesca meant sharing a very fond part of my childhood and an intimate part of who I am.
I also had the chance to share color wheels with my students at Arusha school. Each one painted their own gurudumu la rangi by starting from the three primary colors: yellow, blue and red. In their unique ways, they all expressed awe as orange emerged when they moved their brushes in circles mixing yellow and red.
Throughout these past two months, with their smiles, their questions, and their complaints, my students awoke a side of me that is enthusiastic, listens carefully and is understanding. With Jesca and with my kids at Arusha School, I experienced what it feels like when your students fall in love with the things that you love, the very things that move you … And that is a feeling that beats walking into art stores.