More Color, Please

A Seedling: What happens when art supplies limit our ability to capture real life?

by Dulce Zamora

My 14-year-old daughter, Sienna, drew a picture of her cousins, using oil pastels and a photograph that captured the fun they had together two summers ago. We analyzed her work and agreed something was off.

“I think the way I angled Addi’s face — the right side is not right,” said Sienna.

“Her face is too light, looks unnatural,” I said. “Shade it darker?”

“I tried, but I don’t have those colors,” she said.

I looked at the basic 25-piece set. She was right. Anything that could be used for skin tone was mostly light. To get better results, we’d have to buy a bigger kit or a special skin tone set with variety of browns. I started to look online at different oil pastel sets. Slim pickings but inventory isn’t always great in this side of the globe. I resolved to go to the art store even though going out these days involves some risk calculation involving exposure to the virus and potential quarantine measures.

I wondered: Why do I need to make a special effort to get shades of brown? I get that basic sets usually contain the bare minimum, and the crayons are used to draw more than just people. However, portraits are commonplace. Most of the world does not have fair complexion. So why don’t basic sets carry more shades that match the pigments of most people? Sure, I could buy more specialized kits, but why do I need to make the extra effort and spend more?

It’s not just here that I have to take an extra step. When I tell people around the world that I’m American, they almost always ask me where I am really from. What would it be like if we could be who we are and do what we need to do without the cumulative hours of extra steps and words to represent ourselves and our communities? What if the people and tools around us actually help us to accomplish our goals in an efficient manner? Imagine what we could do with all that time and energy!

© 2021 Windswept Wildflower

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