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Wax Crayons for Grown Ups

Updated on July 10, 2012

Crayola for Big People!

I was watching this video the other day when I saw an artist take out a pack of wax crayons and start drawing with them in her art journal. I ran downstairs, grabbed my crayons and started playing.

I'd bought some crayons years ago when I was designing costumes for a children's opera - the designs featured lots of scribbles. But I'd never thought about actually trying to draw properly with them before.

Watching that video freed up my thinking and I found that I had a new set of great drawing materials.

You can get some cool effects with just a few crayons

My Small Collection of Crayon - Found in the bottom of my cupboard.

I used these crayons for the images on this page - so you don't need a lot to get some good effects.

150 Crayons - But if you want more...

Need more crayons? This set of 150 gives you a wide range of wax crayon colours.

Scribbles

Creating an Interesting Background

With just a few scribbles.

I was familiar with scribbling with crayons and using those scribbles as decoration but I also found that layering the background up with scribbles is a great way of adding interest to my work.

The piece below was used as the background for a collaged piece but I could have equally drawn on top of it with more crayon - the beauty of that is that I could have then used a scraping tool to reveal the layers beneath.

Recycled and Waxed Paper

Wax Crayon Background by MeltedRachel
Wax Crayon Background by MeltedRachel

My First Attempt

Don't start too small!

Crayon Drawing by MeltedRachel
Crayon Drawing by MeltedRachel

Details can be Difficult

I found one issue with using crayons to draw images is that you can't get (well at least, I can't get) the fine mark making needed for small detailed work.

I found I had to start again and take up the whole page.

Smaller details could be made with the woodcut effect - where you lay down a layer of black (or any single dark colour) on top of your wax drawing and then use a scrapey tool to make marks and reveal the colours beneath.

Opposite and below: my first tentative attempts to draw with wax crayon.

Messy Journal Page

Crayon Drawing by MeltedRachel
Crayon Drawing by MeltedRachel

Working Bigger

Taking up the Whole Page

I decided to work on top of some scribbles I'd already laid down on a page. I was working in an altered book and hadn't gessoed the next page and I didn't want to wait to get started on my crayon experiments. So, I decided to just go over the top of the scribbles and I loved it.

A Bit Cross-Eyed and the Nose needs some Work!

Crayon Drawing by MeltedRachel
Crayon Drawing by MeltedRachel

Melting the Crayons

Melted Crayon Experiment by MeltedRachel
Melted Crayon Experiment by MeltedRachel

Melt and Smudge

Well, seeing as I'm MeltedRachel, I thought I'd get the hot air gun out and see what affect it had on my wax crayon drawings.

It seems to make the colours a lot more vibrant - I guess a similar effect to burnishing your piece.

My hot air gun is fairly strong so I was careful not to hold it over my work for too long - the paper beneath can get burnt, any paint can start bubbling off and you can damage the work on the other side of your sketchbook page if you're not careful.

The images above and below were worked on an altered book page. The page was coated in gesso. After the gesso was dried I coloured over the top with my wax crayons as usual. I heated the page with a heat gun and then used a rag to smear the wax.

Dreamy Smudged Wax

Melted Crayon Experiment by Melted Rachel
Melted Crayon Experiment by Melted Rachel

Smudged Wax Horse

Click thumbnail to view full-size
My scribbled wax crayon horse.The horse once melted and rubbed with a cloth.The horse with Inktense blocks and paint worked over the top.
My scribbled wax crayon horse.
My scribbled wax crayon horse.
The horse once melted and rubbed with a cloth.
The horse once melted and rubbed with a cloth.
The horse with Inktense blocks and paint worked over the top.
The horse with Inktense blocks and paint worked over the top.

Using Paint

Give it a Wash

I used washes of black watercolour paint over my crayon drawings.

Wax crayon will resist some water-based paints.

Below you can see how the paint sits on top of the wax in interesting effects when it dries.

Dried Drips of Paint on Wax

Art Journal Page Detail by MeltedRachel
Art Journal Page Detail by MeltedRachel

Working in my Precious Art Journal

Resisting Paint

I love this drawing.

Again, I used scribbling in the background. I layered more crayon on top of the scribbles and then sloshed some black watercolour paint on top. Wax crayons resist watercolour which usually gives a cool effect. My page was completely coated in crayon, however, so the paint just dried randomly on top of the wax - I like it.

The Image in Full

My Brothers' Vineyard by MeltedRachel
My Brothers' Vineyard by MeltedRachel

Getting Different Skin Tones

Multicultural Colours

At the moment I only have my brown crayon for skin tones - although I could probably try mixing it with the yellow and white on top of it.

Imagine how excited I was to discover that Crayola already had a solution to this problem!

Now I can draw people with a variety of skin tones.

Binney & Smith Crayola(R) Multicultural Crayons, Assorted Specialty Colors, Box Of 8
Binney & Smith Crayola(R) Multicultural Crayons, Assorted Specialty Colors, Box Of 8

Crayons for drawing people.

Colours include: Apricot; Black; Burnt Sienna; Mahogany; Peach; Sepia; Tan; White.

 
Crayon Drawing by MeltedRachel
Crayon Drawing by MeltedRachel

Melting and Blending

I discovered during my melting experiments that I could get a decent lighter skin colour by blending pink, yellow and brown.

I started with a gessoed page (as I did with the other melting experiments) and then layered my crayon colours up on the page. I believe I started with carnation pink, then added yellow and then brown. I used these colours to make the basic shape of the girl's face. I didn't worry about details at this point.

Once all my layers were in place I used the heat gun to melt the wax. I then used my cloth to blend the colours together.

I worked the details over the top and then gave the piece a wash of blue watercolour paint.

The Pale Girl

The Pale Girl by MeltedRachel
The Pale Girl by MeltedRachel

Lee Hammond's Drawings

Lee Hammond's Crayon Drawing

I found this book whilst working on this lens.

Check the contents out on Amazon - you can see quite a few of the pages.

Lee Hammond looks like she's using artist quality pencils in her crayon drawings.

Wax Crayon Collage

Crayon Drawing by MeltedRachel
Crayon Drawing by MeltedRachel

Crayon Your Own Collage Papers

In the image opposite and below I've used wax crayons to make scribbly collage papers.

I used the paper from the "Scribbles" section above as my background and made some other colours to collage with.

I used black biro to add details - not traditionally the nicest mark-making pen but it seemed to work well on top of the wax.

I particularly like the "spikenard flower heads" depicted in yellow - that seemed to work well on this piece.

A Collaged Journal Page

A Collaged Journal Page by MeltedRachel
A Collaged Journal Page by MeltedRachel

Do You Like Wax Crayons?

What Do You Think? - Reader Feedback

Should Grown Ups Use Wax Crayons?

Reader Feedback

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    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dear Rachel,

      I LOVE YOUR writing and artwork. I know this looks easy, but it is not easy. Right? I would love to learn. Hey, how to you get those gray quote boxes? As for your writing . . .I will tell you the truth. I think that this is an excellent piece of writing. Amazing work.

      I loved the way you presented your topic. Wonderful graphics.

      This piece was helpful, informative and very interesting.I was glad to vote Up and all of the choices.

      You are certainly a gifted writer. Please keep up the fine work.

      Sincerely,

      Kenneth Avery, Hamilton, Alabama

    • LizMac60 profile image

      Liz Mackay 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      You've had some great effects with these crayons.

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