When One Blue Crayon Isn’t Enough by April K. Mills

January 13, 2010

There are more colors in nature than in any size box of crayons.

Yet, with a box of eight crayons, including one crayon called Blue, you can show an ocean or a sky, a naval officer’s uniform or a Blue Angels jet. But, sometimes one blue crayon isn’t enough. You need more variety of blues to show the details. When setting off a robin’s egg from the sky, one blue crayon won’t do. When drawing a naval aviator standing in front of a blue jet against a sparkling blue sky, one blue crayon isn’t enough.

In any drawing, you must have enough colors to show the details you want. Maybe you need the box of 96 crayons, with its 15 varieties of blue: cerulean, cadet blue, blue green, navy blue, midnight blue, denim, pacific blue, steel blue, wild blue yonder, turquoise blue, robin’s egg blue, periwinkle, sky blue, cornflower and blue.

The same is true with words. When you’re making the word “culture” or “improvement” or “communication” do the work of 15 better suited words or phrases, you’re losing the details in a sea of blue.

Beware the times when one blue crayon isn’t enough.

For a neat look at language, check out the introduction to Stuart Chase’s Tyranny of Words. See page 4 of the Look Inside at Amazon. “Idealism” gets the blue crayon treatment.

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