Lisa Kleinert – Coloring Pages
Project Process Essay by Lisa Kleinert
I spent the majority of my project unsure of what I was doing. It went through several phases before it ultimately emerged as colouring sheets for children. My original plan was to discuss the history of Smyrna in a brochure. I thought that it sounded like a good idea until I realized just how broad of a topic it was. I tried to narrow the concept down to information regarding the local parks and their histories, but came up short when it dealt with information. I started with Sharp Springs park in Smyrna, which was a fantastic location for me as it is literally my backyard. Almost everything that I found came from the signposts in the parks, and they were not very informative (and in at least one instance, contained spelling errors). I tried to speak with some of the people who worked at the park, but they could not tell me much regarding specifics. I was pretty disappointed and felt kind of stuck and unsure of what to do next. I toyed around with writing up reviews of the local trails because I’ve been on practically all of them, but hiking itself is a lot more fun than writing about it, and when I went over what I would say it all sounded basically the same. I guess I just do not have the descriptive powers that the people who write the magazine Walking have.
I sat with the thought of what I was going to do on the back of my mind for several weeks, and then I was introduced to the website Pinterest by one of my friends. If you don’t know what it is, the main point of it is sort of like a massive “Favorites” list for websites, where you assign the link and an accompanying photo and description to different “Pinboards”. You can see what others are “pinning” as well. It is mostly used by crafters as a venue for sharing DIY ideas and projects. I noticed a few people pinning pages of downloadable colouring sheets. I found some really neat ones, of the different Queens of England and other historical figures when I thought that I would like to do something like this. In a previous class I created a small book of paper dolls of outfits that Queen Elizabeth I and her father’s wives wore in historical portraits. I suppose I connected those queens with the colouring sheet queens that I had found and thought that I could make something like this!
I wanted to stick with the Tennessee parks idea and thought that it might be cute to create some sheets of animals that are native to Tennessee. Again, I thought up a complicated way to do this that I had to amend soon afterwards. I had the plan to draw these animals based on photos that I would take in the park. I still think that it sounds great, but though I see snakes from time to time, there never seemed to be one when I was walking with my pink digital camera. The only animals I could reliably find were white-tailed deer that come out like clockwork to graze once the sun begins to go down. I was also successful in getting “my” opossum and raccoon to visit me by leaving them hamburgers on the back patio, but those photos turned out terrible and once they saw me open the sliding door they bolted. Leaving behind the food too! A very fat groundhog stopped by during the day to eat some of the cereal I had thrown out back that morning, but I was not thinking about my photos and only grinned and waved like a dork for the short few minutes that he was there.
I looked through photos that I had previously taken in the time that I had lived here, and found a very neat one of a massive spider that lived in my garden last summer that I wanted to include. The only problem with this was I also wanted to include some information in a caption on each drawing, to explain what the animal was and why it is pertinent to Tennessee life. If I don’t know what this spider is, I can’t really give anyone anything to learn. I sent this photo to a friend of mine who just graduated in forestry and is now working as a park ranger (a career move that I am terribly jealous of, by the way) to ask her what she thought it was. She said that she was not sure, but I should probably stay back. She then linked me to a message board of people who were better at identifying arachnids then she was. I made an account and posted it there, but apparently my photo was from a bad angle, and any markings were not visible. So I hit a dead end at this route as well.
It then occurred to me that though I am including animals that live in Tennessee, and will be releasing these to the public I was missing something. My whole “history” in Public History was kind of a stretch. I should probably add a historic element as well. I looked into what extinct animals lived in the area. At the nature preserve next to the children’s museum in Murfreesboro they had a sign that said there was evidence of saber toothed cats thousands of years ago. I thought I would elaborate on learning about this, but then came across an article from Knoxville News that talked about how mastodon bones had been found at a dig in Cool Springs#. What is even neater, is that these mastodons had displayed “butcher” marks. This indicates that humans lived in the area during the ice age. This especially caught my attention because in my Indian History class we were learning about the Mesa Verde spot that was so controversial in the twentieth century, where these same types of bones and proof of early humans were found. I decided to include one of these mastodons in my colouring sheet collection as well.
I ended up looking up pictures of each of the animals I had chosen over the internet, as my goal to photograph everything first looked as though it would take much more time and luck then I had originally planned. From there I sketched out the animals and went over them with a black marker. I made eight drawings and chose the best five. I scanned them with my scanner, (which I had used only two times previously, and fought with to figure out what I was supposed to do!) These pages will be available online for download. I plan on pinning them on Pinterest to make them a little more accessible. My husband will also be putting out a few of these sheets in the lobby for children at the hotel that he works at.
Even though I’ve felt that I was continually hitting dead ends, this project has been a lot of fun to work with. I am majoring in Art History and have learned so much about art that has already been made, but have been completely deprived in physically making anything, and with focusing most of my time towards school I have not had the time to take up any projects on my own. And I love making art in many different forms so it felt nice to sit down with a pen and paper with a goal in mind. I know that they probably will not make much of an impact on anything, but I am very glad that I made them regardless.