Crayola Twistables Fun Effects
A friend introduced me to Crayola’s Twistables and in particular Fun Effects. Twistables have been aroud since the 80s but this set has multi-coloured crayons or “Rainbow” crayons. They also ran quite smoothly across the paper too which I don’t remember the crayons of my childhood being so accommodating.
As they are children’s toys they will be limited in their artistic capacity so it really is about getting out the most of what they were created for –easy, bold colour drawings. The best way to see them in action was to create textures and patterns, as many as I could in different ways.
The most notable downside is that you can never get a sharp point so smaller scale drawings that require detail might be out of the question.
Totemic Crocodile by Yirawala, Western Arnhem Land. Image referenced from the National Museum of Australia. Traditional Australian Aboriginal art always has a meditative effect on me which I’m not sure is their purpose or intent. But when I look at all the patterns and how thoughtfully each dot or line had been placed I can appreciate the care and control it took to paint them all. They’re not executed in a quick, “production line” gestural fashion, but each stroke is defined and complete, unique amongst all the other strokes and dots around it.
But that’s getting a bit too metaphysical for a kid’s crayon set. However, Aboriginal art does provide a great base for exploring linear art especially with a medium that is quite dense, it will also allow the linework to be much more organic in nature than other techniques.
The Fun Effects set are a very colourful medium, so it was more fitting to look at work by modern Aboriginal artists.
Awelye Atnwengerrp by Minnie Pwerle. Image referenced from Aboriginal Dream
There is a lovely balance created in Minnie Pwerle’s work. You have these tightly condensed lines and shapes creating a grid-like, orderly pattern but painted in a very free and natural way. They should be hard to look at because of all the densely packed lines ie there’s no relief. Possibly because they were done by hand and set on a black background it softens the overall feel.
Body Paint by Minnie Pwerle. Image referenced from Wentworth Galleries
I’m not a pattern maker. It has never been my thing for numerous reasons but I actually enjoyed following Pwerle’s work. Pattern making can be so tight and controlling in order to create that overall “pattern” appearance, but this was really pleasant to do. Its freehand nature made it feel more like I was drawing than keeping within the lines.
Eileen Yaritja Stevens
Kungkarankalpa by Eileen Yaritja Stevens. Image referenced from mutual.art.com
Steven’ work is bursting with movement and energy, so organic and pulsating with life. They almost create a claustrophobic feeling because so much is going on. Even the colours are vivid and blooming. Yet there is still control and a kind of order – none of the lines and dots overlap or smudge each other out, they all have their place and part to play.
Artwork by Eileen Yaritja Stevens. Image referenced from galeriezadra.com
This was much harder to do, the Crayola’s bluntness made it really hard to navigate where my marks would begin whenever I started a new line or dot. The nicest parts for me was the interlacing of two different crayons when creating the lines or areas where I had dots sitting on top of linework.
Grass Seed Dreaming by Barabra Weir. Image referenced from utopialaneart.com.auBased on the titles of her work I guess you could say she is a more figurative artist than Pwerle or Yaritja Stevens. She has a beautiful sense of colour which creates volume and richness. They seem very controlled but still full of spontaneous movement and a light, free-flowing one at that.
My result is so awful! It looks like a gawdy artificial throw rug. My linework was too long and fine – a bit too hairy rather than grassy, and the more I tried to create volume the flatter it actually got.
To help provide some inspiration I played some music while developing my own designs.
I kept all my designs flat, then “warped” them in Photoshop over random 3D images I found online trying to match the design with the right shape.
Portrait of Emy by Schmidt-Rottluff. Image referenced from the Cleveland Museum of Art.
The next lot of artists that inspired this exercise were those associated with the German Expressionist movement. Like many art revolutions that occurred during this time in early 20th Century Europe, colour was vital as a way of communicating their message.
Double Self Portrait by Kirchner, found at the NationalGaleries, Berlin. Image referenced from fineartamerica.com
Portrait de Fernande Olivier by van Dongen. Image referenced from the-athenaeum.org
We start seeing work that is less concerned with literal interpretations of life but using colour to reflect the emotional connection the painter has with their subject matter.
Although I have no real control with these rainbow crayons they seemed to be ideal for expressive portraiture.
All my photo references came from a website called unsplash.com where the global community upload all sorts of hi-resolution images for people to use as they please.
As this was my first drawing I left expectations at the door. The rainbow effect, like the Daiso pencil, really turns an otherwise normal drawing into something quite exciting and vibrant. However, I did consciously turn the crayon so that the shadows were made with the darker colour and lighter with brighter colour.
This drawing was done on an A4 and because of the bluntness of the crayon it never allowed me to add much detail, it was way too hard.
A3 paper gave me better results and more of a chance to see what these crayons are capable of. I also used more than one pen for this one. The crayon was really smooth and it can create boldness as well as subtlety. It got a bit scratchy at times but not enough to bother me.
Initially it was supposed to be a full on solid colour drawing with big chunky blocks of random colour, but as I started working across the whole page blocking in colour, the contrast between the empty spaces and fine linework was giving the picture a lot of dimension. As I’m also overworking pictures I decided to pull back and let the picture breathe.
I decided to do a Matisse/Picasso line drawing with this one. When I see work done in this style, especially by the aforementioned artists, there’s so much I love about it, but to do it myself I find it a little dull to execute.
The first attempt shown here was meant to be layers of really soft scribbles slowly building up the shapes, but my mind started to wander so I binned it.
Not wanting to end today’s session on a bad note I made a second drawing, this time using my left hand. It turned out not too shabby but it was really hard on my fingers!!
My venue was the Chinese Garden of Friendship in Sydney. Usually when I sketch outside I take a large drawing board and A3 paper but this excursion was tacked on to something else I had on so travelled with more practical equipment, notably an A4 sketchbook.
As discovered previously a smaller page doesn’t allow me to use the crayons in an expressive way. I wanted to use linework, like van Gogh, to accentuate shape and energy but the page size and constant bluntness of the crayons limited my attempts.
Its like the product says – its fun. There is some potential to do exciting things with it but it will be limited in its range.
The Creative Plan – Part 1 Multicolour Pencils