Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


Primary school poetry.

It wasn't in a book. One of the girls in Grade Three, Suzanna Arrowsmith, performed Vespers by A. A. Milne in front of the class, but I thought it was over the top. Sanctimonious little critic I was. Suzanne wanted to be an actress. She had the looks.

The poetry was in a box; the names of the colours, each numbered, in a box of Derwent pencils. The 24-pencil set was a coloured landscape that spoke of dark valleys and lake-laced plains of vivid greens, and seas that swirled grey and blue.

Emerald Green was the land of our forefathers; Raw Umber was the earth beneath; Blue Grey was the sky above and Rose Pink was the blush in Colleen’s cheeks. Ivory Black (just one of Derwent's blacks) was the frozen road or your father’s drink; Madder Carmine was a red flash somewhere between those two notorious actresses, Scarlet and Crimson Lake.

Juniper Green was the colour of a sage leaf that flavoured mother’s stew. Jade Green, French Grey and Naples Yellow were the overseas holidays you had in the 1950s.

Venetian Red was a red-tinged shade of brown; Chinese White was always the longest pencil in the box, until I was given an exercise book made of black art paper. My favourite name was Ultramarine, a stormy sea of backlit deep blue. I travelled the world and had a thousand adventures with one box of Derwent coloured pencils.

My sister had the 72-pencil fold-out box set. She became a poet.


White Dove said...

just goes to show KH...had I owned some derwents my life may have changed forever.

Always wanted them...never got them...the story of my life

kitchen hand said...

White Dove, my older sister got the 72s, my brother the 12s and I the 24s. (Not sure about the other four children, or perhaps they received the cheaper Lakelands.) The result, graphed, probably tracked the Australian economy at the time.

Melbourne Girl said...

Thanks for this KH.
I always wanted Derwents but had to settle for the cheaper version when I was at school. The gorgeous emerald green was my favourite and I was envious every time my (much more affluent) friend used hers.
Some years ago, a friend and I were talking about how good Derwents were and a few weeks later she surprised me with a set.

Just opening the tin takes me back to school days

kitchen hand said...

Indeed, Melbourne Girl. And then we could start talking about the smell of a brand new pack of Guitar or Craypas oil pastels ...