Rocklyn and London Mayer, second and third graders at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School, have always been artists. But when they opened their early Christmas gifts, they didn’t expect to see their own drawings published in a coloring book.
“I was so excited,” Rocklyn, 8, said. “When I looked at the page, my eyes opened wide.”
Their mother, Damaris Colon, is obsessed with coloring and has purchased coloring books from her favorite artists. Over a year ago, she hatched a plan to surprise Rocklyn and London with “London Rock Art — The Coloring Book, Volume I,” a coloring book made for kids, by kids. It is available for purchase by the general public.
“For like a year, I was stealing their art,” Colon said. “I would buy them sketchbooks, and they would fill them up. I would just sneak in and flip through their sketchbooks, scan the pages into PDFs and just kind of hoard them.”
Colon first noticed Rocklyn’s artistic abilities flourishing when she was just 4 years old.
“She wasn’t drawing little potato figures,” Colon said. “She was actually drawing.”
She enrolled both Rocklyn and her big brother, London, in classes at Yorklyn’s Center for Creative Arts, where instructor Deanna Daly helped foster their talent. The two also turn to YouTube, where they find inspiration for new drawings and also consult tutorials to widen their artistic abilities.
The siblings are just a year apart — Rocklyn was born at 27 weeks and spent two months in the neonatal intensive care unit. Growing up, Rocklyn was often London’s shadow, and Colon wanted to encourage them to flesh out their own artistic identities.
“When London draws, he’s very quick — he just draws whatever comes to his mind,” she said. “Rocklyn is very particular. Even when she has to draw something for her homework, she will sit there and she will take her time. I’ll be like, ‘OK, Rocklyn, come on,’ and she’s like, ‘Don’t rush me — this is my art.’”
London, 9, said he likes to practice drawing anime and cartoon characters, while Rocklyn prefers to draw cute animals. They both turn to art to clear their heads after a long day at school.
“I would rather just do art class for the rest of my life,” London said. “I don’t feel like doing math.”
Rocklyn interjected, ‘Me too!’
Colon connected with Nigeria-based artist @bami_artistik on Instagram to create clean line art based on the kids drawings, and used Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing to create the book itself. After a process of back-and-forth review with editors at Amazon, Colon woke up one day in November and saw the email — the book was live online and available for purchase.
“I couldn’t really focus on work, because I was too excited,” she said. “It was borderline surreal, and just felt like a major accomplishment.”
The kids both agreed that they would work toward a second coloring book, this time with more direct creative input. But in the short term, they said it means a lot to know that their friends and neighbors, as well as kids they don’t even know, could use their drawings as a means of artistic expression.
Rocklyn shared a pro-tip — don’t worry too much about using realistic colors or staying in the lines. That’s not what art is all about.
“Go crazy, like me,” she said, as London agreed.
Recently, Colon said, they have both experienced a rush of creativity. And it’s not just drawing — London is set on creating plushie figures of some of their characters, including fan favorite ‘Pancake.’
“Pancake is going to be famous,” Colon said, as London and Rocklyn laughed. They both enthusiastically affirmed that they wanted to start a YouTube channel, to which Colon replied, “That’s a lot of work, guys.”
But Colon welcomes the work, because she wants to show London and Rocklyn that they can do anything they set their minds to. She wants them to know she supports them in any creative projects they want to pursue.
“We have that same mindset of — how do we take something that we love and share it with people?” Colon said. “It’s just a way to constantly assure them — if this is what you want to do, and this is who you want to be, it can be done.”
To purchase the coloring book ($19.99), visit londonrock.bigcartel.com or find it on Amazon.