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What Color is Your Sheep?

Last night in our Growing Up Godless panel during FTBCon, I mentioned that I’d been to churchy-camp without even realizing it was churchy as a child. Apparently there was a nearby church holding summer “camps” with a running theme of the Chronicles of Narnia; if I remember correctly, each year they used a different book from the series. Being the sort of kid who would waddle up to the library checkout counter with a huge stack of books clutched in my outstretched arms and pinned under my chin, I thought that was pretty awesome at the time. And I’m sure my parents, who were both teachers, didn’t mind letting someone else taking us out of the house in the summer to do something other than make messes and beat on each other. But it was still churchy-camp, with churchy-themed activities that I didn’t really recognize at the time. (Y’know, being a dirty heathen child and all.)

As with many ‘keep the kids busy’ sort of activities, there was a considerable amount of coloring involved. I liked to color. However, I remember being both confused and annoyed when child-me was given a picture of a lamb to color with only a basic box of 8 crayons. I didn’t remember any lambs in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and anyway, lambs are white. Aren’t they? What am I supposed to color here? Is this a trick question? Summer camp is supposed to be fun, not have weird tests like in school! (I was quite comforted by the safety of Rules at that time.)

I grumpily drew in a hill of grass, trees, flowers, probably a sun and some nice M-birds while the other kids scribbled their lambs into distinctly non-lamb colors. I wondered why they hadn’t just given us blank paper to draw on. I tried to delicately make the lamb’s ears and nose pink with the red crayon. I wondered if a lamb’s legs were fluffy white all the way down, or if their skin showed through. What color is a lamb under his fluff, anyway? How was I supposed to know? Does this church have an encyclopedia? (This was the 80s.)

Ok, sure, child-me had a compulsion to keep things As They Were, for some value thereof. Lambs are white, Narnia is through the back of a closet, don’t change my narrative please. Perhaps I’m unusual as an arty-type that way… as a child, I wasn’t “creatively expressing myself” by adding wings to wingless critters (dragons, yes, cats, no) or crazy hairstyles to things without hair to style. My stuffed animals could be made to talk, but it was pretend. There was a boundary between what was Real and what was not, and I liked to keep things the way they were, thank you.

But who says you have to? Who’s to say the Horse of a Different Color from the Wizard of Oz couldn’t have had a sheepish equivalent? We have glow in the dark cats now, fer cryin’ out loud.

After this little stay-inside-the-lines story came up in last night’s panel, Ryan made our closing question, “What color would you make your sheep?” Since the other panelists blatantly stole my answers (!!!) before I could call dibs on something awesome like plaid or glitter, I decided that my sheep would be clear. Not invisible, but clear.

This is a line drawing of a sheep we’re talking about here. A coloring book. So after everyone else had given their distinctly-not-lamb colors in answer,  I had to come up with something different. I said I’d cut out the paper inside the lines so the sheep could be ANY color.

So I did.

To keep it real, I used my Google-fu to find some coloring pages of sheep. One of a lamb, because that’s what I remember coloring, and one of a sheep, because that’s what we were calling it last night in the panel. (These drawings are from And then I made them Anycolor, just like I’d said.

The initial sheep cutouts, on my cutting mat:
:green gridded cutting mat seen through a cut-out sheep drawing

These sheep are not very colorful at all. But striped in a distinctly-not-sheeplike way.lined notebook paper seen through a cut-out sheep drawing

Wooden sheep? Sure.

wooden floor seen through a cut-out sheep drawing

Snowy sheep out my back window.
snowy view seen through a cut-out sheep drawing

…and a pair of more urban sheep seen out the front window. A “sheep” motel!
a second snowy view seen through a cut-out sheep drawing

Not quite plaid, but Pantone will do quite nicely.
Pantone color swatches seen through a cut-out sheep drawing

And, because negative space is awesome:
the cut-out bits of the sheep drawing

So, what color is YOUR sheep?


(BTW, you can still watch a recording of our panel if you’d like to see what we have to say about growing up without religion. Because FTBCon is free and online! It’s going on RIGHT NOW through 6pm on Sunday. And even if you’ve missed one of the panels while it was happening, they’re ALL recorded for your enjoyment. Viewable at your leisure!)

Beth Voigt

Beth is a graphic designer in Chicago, a superhero in her own mind, and absolutely nothing on TV. She wrangles fonts professionally, pummels code amateurishly, and has been known to shove fire in her face for fun. Fond of volunteering, late-night bursts of productivity, and making snacks, she dislikes grocery shopping and sticky public transit and is only on her second smartphone. Her opinion is that you should try everything twice; if you don't like it, you were probably doing it wrong the first time around. If external links are your thing, here are links to Twitter and Instagram, and you can support her ongoing weirdness by buying her a coffee or six.

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