As a Khmer educator, I was extremely excited to hear that the Cambodia Town Film Festival (CTFF) was launching their first ever coloring book on September 13th. This post is dedicated to the efforts made by this organization and the contribution of 20 artists who are celebrating the joy and beauty of Cambodian culture.
This team created 28 pages filled with designs and symbolism that represents parts of who we are, such as our sacred shrines, love for family, food, lotus flowers, dancing, traditional clothing, and more. You can request a free copy here and receive an email with access to download the coloring pages made for all ages!
One of the amazing artists, Krystal M. Chuon, would like to share about the meaning behind her page. We connected with Krystal through Instagram where we were in awe of her watercolor pieces and we were excited to recommend her for this project! Her words will inspire you to get your coloring book today to share with your family, friends, and other people in your community...
"Sereypheap” (សេរីភាព) by Krystal M. Chuon
My coloring page actually has a title – “Sereypheap” (សេរីភាព) which means "freedom" in Khmer. I chose sereypheap because I want those coloring my page to have the freedom to color however they want, in whatever colors they want – the goal being complete freedom of expression.
When I was approached to participate in CTFF's first ever coloring book (Khmer pop art being its theme), it was mentioned that the submissions they received so far were geared more towards the higher school grades. With that information in mind, I wanted to create a piece for the younger school grades – something that would be fun and easy to color in. So, I looked towards cubism pop art for inspiration and noticed the usage of big spaces and various shapes. It greatly helped me in creating my drawing.
Next, I had to think about what I wanted to draw. I knew I wanted to include Khmer imagery, some more recognizable than others. I also wanted kids who see it to be able to recognize these elements and if not, to hopefully spark a discussion with their parents and/or family on what they see and perhaps learn something new in the process.
I ended up incorporating the Bayon stone face, a butterfly, and rumduol flowers.
Bayon stone face: This was the first imagery I pictured to go in my piece. It is one of the more recognizable Khmer imagery in my piece. I’ve always been fascinated by the Bayon faces, from its soft features and decorative Khmer elements.
Butterfly: Although not an imagery that one would associate with Khmer culture, I included it because I personally love butterflies and also, you can find butterflies in Khmer culture – such as with Robam Mehambao (របាំមេអំបៅ). In my research, I also discovered that Cambodia has the largest enclosed butterfly centre in Southeast Asia called, Beanteay Srey Butterfly Centre!
Pka Rumduol (ផ្ការំដួល): Rumduol is the national flower of Cambodia and I try to incorporate it into my art whenever I can. It is a beautiful flower loved for its sweet fragrance and you can find it planted all over Cambodia. I just knew I had to include it into my piece somehow.
What a process it was to create what looks like a simple piece that actually had a lot of thought put into it. I hope that those who choose to color my piece will enjoy it and learn a thing or two in the process!
- Krystal M. Chuon
Instagram | Website