Art Teacher Tales
My favorite lessons, tricks and professional developments.
I first was introduced to the Cray-Pen at my state's annual conference. The Cray-Pen is essentially a soldering iron meant for crayons. Since I teach primarily Kinder I dismissed the tool as something that would be unsafe for my little ones but probably cool for older students. Then, at a SCALA (Suffolk County Art Leaders Association) workshop I had the chance to play with one. I was instantly hooked and purchased one online before the class ended. They are pretty cheap (under 15 dollars) and really easy to use. The first thing I noticed was that it made great dots. We talked about how this tool would great for teaching pointillism or to add a twist to Aboriginal dot painting.
When I got the Cray-Pen home the first thing I made was a self-portrait, my number one go to. I did a sketch on the paper fist and then started laying down dots. I added dots closer together in some spots and layered colors in others. Eventually I started blending the dots together and was extremely happy with the result. The melted dots created a whole new array of textures and started to give a similar look to my oil paintings.
I made two pieces with the Cray-Pen during the school year but really... who has time to really investigate a new material during the last few months of school? So I brought my Cray-Pen with me to Moore College's Teacher Summer Institute. Read more about TSI HERE. I went to Blick and loaded up on some bristol board, wood panels and a heat gun. The first thing I did was take my heat gun to my self-portrait to see what it did. The crayon soaked into the paper giving a completely different texture.
Next I tried some portraits and a landscape just to see what I could get my new tool to do. I was enjoyed the process but I was not crazy with the result. Representational work is within my comfort zone but I really wanted to branch out from my go tos. That is when I started to make some more abstract pieces with the Cray-Pen and I started cranking out pieces. From investigating what this new tool could do to finding a new voice through abstract visuals, I am very satisfied with the work I was able to create with a tool meant from kids and Crayola crayons.
I also want to note that all these pieces are coated with Golden's self leveling gel. I did the following piece on a canvas and it immediately wanted to flake off so I had to seal in the wax some how. I loved the result and have used the gel on all the crayon pieces. It protects them and adds a great luster.