Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Child Within: Crayon Resist

Sometimes it is time to release the child inside of us.  
Sometimes the most creative thing to do is let ourselves play and that is exactly what I have been doing today.  

Last night I went on a shopping trip for my "toys".

The first toy I got was the big box of crayons, the box of 64 with the sharpener in the back.  Remember when you were a child and that was the box you wanted?  There is something magical and fun about being able to resharpen that crayon.  It may not be like new anymore but it the next best thing to it.

The second thing I got was a bunch of fresh flowers.  I really was searching for something exotic and tropical like Bird of Paradise but the stores here did not have any and I had to settle for freesia. No problem it will still work just fine.  Everyone should work from life occasionally.   Sometimes working from photos leaves a painting stiff and predictable but rest assured I have taken a good many photos to use later when the flowers wilt.

What a deal!  For seven dollars I had new toys to keep me busy for spring break and photos to use when the fresh flowers are not available and crayons with a sharpener!

Working on a heavy cold pressed sheet of watercolor paper that has a good textured surface and heavy enough not to tear up with the abuse I had to give the surface I quickly laid in a playful contour drawing of the flowers making sure to super-size the flowers.

I was so anxious to get started I even got out of bed and sat down at my drafting table around 1:00 AM and put in a few minutes coloring before returning to bed and sleeping awhile longer.  I got in the studio as soon as I could after taking care of the usual necessities.

It was a very freeing experience and one I may not use often but certainly was well worth my time today.   

Crayon Resist: Crayon is made of wax and when applied to watercolor paper blocks the absorption of paint.  Any area that is heavily covered with crayon will stay the color of the crayon but any areas that the crayon misses will absorb paint.  Crayon resist is based on the same principle used in the ancient art of batiks which uses melted wax to resist fabric dyes. 

To complete a painting using this technique first apply crayon before applying the paints or between layers of paint.  I did both.  Some areas had crayon on the white paper and then painted with an extremely dark watercolor like Prussian blue, alizarin crimson and/or ultramarine blue. Some areas I sandwiched the crayon between a light layer of watercolor underneath and a dark wash of color over the top.  

After the entire surface had crayon with a final wash of the dark watercolor I tweaked the composition with another application of crayon bringing out lights with a light crayon and pushing the darks with a black or dark color.  
*I resist using black altogether during the development of the composition and use it only meagerly in the end only where it is the only color that will work.  That way the painting sparkles color like reds and blues and purples rather than a flat black.   

My challenge today:  Release the child inside of you.  Stop holding yourself back because you are afraid it is not the customary way to do something.  Just cut loose and play!
There are no art police!

Just have fun!


  1. This is so lovely...amazing.
    I enjoyed meeting you yesterday - a kindred spirit of sorts for both you and your sister...I feel most at home when I surround myself with artist people - it's encouraging and inspiring to say the least. My motto in life is, nothing is ever trash, it can ALWAYS be transformed and treasured.
    Thank you for allowing me into your creative circle of you and your sister!

  2. Lana, I know Linda and I both felt the same way. It is not often I meet someone for the first time and do not feel awkward about conversation. Thank you for all your encouraging words. It was such fun meeting you.