If you do mixed media art – or any art – for any length of time , you will probably find yourself with a stash of art supplies that are your “go-to” items. The supplies you love will depend on what type of art you do and your particular style. But don’t be surprised to find a familiar set of items at arm’s reach because you use them on the daily.
My Art Supply MVP – Watercolor Crayons!
One of my go to supplies for the past 3-4 years have been my set of Caran D’ache Water Soluble Wax Pastels . . . which is basically a fancy name for “watercolor crayons.” I first learned of this supply (and this brand, which has other high quality, fantastic supplies, too) in 2016 when I took the “Ever After” online art course from Willowing Arts. The creator of the course, Tamara LaPorte, shared a video lesson showing her art process and how she used the Caran D’Ache crayons (also called Neocolors) to create her layered style.
In order to do the course lessons, I bought a small set of Windsor-Newton watercolor crayons at my local art supply store, since the Caran D’ache crayons are pretty much only available online (in my area). I loved them! But . . . I really wanted to try the Neocolors, since so many working artists praised them in the courses I was taking.
I bought my set back in 2016. It was my first real expensive “art brand” purchase. They were worth every penny! Please know that buying the Neocolor crayons is not necessary to enjoying watercolor crayons! You can find the set I bought from Windsor-Newton at the art supply store for a reasonable price. There are also watercolor crayons by Faber-Castell, Sargent, Staedtler, Reeves and more.
If you do decide to try the Caran D’ache crayons, make sure to get the “Neocolor II” version and not the “Neocolor I” version. The Neocolor I are “water resistant,” not water soluable.
Water resistant: You can put water media over the crayon and the crayon stays put.
Water soluable: You can put water media over the crayon and it dissolves into watercolor.
All About Watercolor Crayons
Even though they are labelled as “wax” on the package, these are not quite the same as your childhood pack of Crayola 64s! (With built in sharpener!) No, wax pastels are a different sort of creature.
- Highly pigmented. (good wax pastels have more pigment than wax, making them really vibrant).
- Opaque. If you put dry watercolor crayon over another layer, it pretty much hides that layer. But if you water it down a lot, the underneath will show through.
- Have a long shelf life (so you don’t buy a set and they dry out or crumble, making them unusable).
- Good lightfastness. Good quality watercolor crayons are “lightfast,” which means they don’t change much or at all when exposed to light over time. (For example, if you hang a piece of art done with supplies that don’t have good lightfastness near a sunny window for years, the art will fade and/or the colors will change).
- Easy to use. It’s crayons. It’s watercolors. It’s both! Scribble them on, wet them down, blend them, go over other mediums with them – there’s so much you can do with watercolor crayons and they’re not tricky or frustrating to use.
- Long lasting. This is different than long shelf life. If you buy good quality watercolor crayons, you will be surprised to find the darn things last forever. I have had my Neocolors for 4 years and they are all still almost full crayons. And I use them all the time!
- Portable. Most watercolor crayons are easy to take as a travel art set. All you really need is paper or a sketchbook, the crayons, a pencil, and a brush with water (or an aqua brush, which holds water in the barrel). Voila! On-the-go art!
Using Watercolor Crayons
You can use watercolor crayons anywhere on your mixed media artwork. I tend to use mine to create my backgrounds. Below, I created a small painting just to show how the crayons look on the canvas, and also how you can blend them, leave them dry – or do a combination of both for an interesting effect!
Step 1: I glued down papers using Mod Podge. I had a 3D key sticker, so I glued that, too.
Step 2: Once the Mod Podge dried, I scribbled my watercolor crayons over parts of the canvas. The colors I chose were white, ochre, and lilac. I used a brush and water to dissolve some of the scribbled parts. Look in the photo below and you’ll see how that area of yellow ochre looks different.
Step 3: I added black watercolor crayon and blended some more. I left parts of the black scribbled, because I liked how it gave it a look of foliage or trees. See how the white and lilac blended together and gave it a dreamy look? That’s why I love using these for my backgrounds. Once the watercolor crayon dried, I used heavy gel medium to glue down the metal piece and the little unicorn in the center. I also sprinkled lavender glitter on the gel medium before it was dry.
Step 4: I added the words using stamps and oil paint. This is the finished artwork.
Here are two more views showing the 3D elements:
A Watercolor Crayon Color Chart
I made a color chart using my Caran D’ache Neocolor II Set to give an idea of what the colors look like both dry and wet.
Now I’d love to hear from you – what is your most reached for art supply? Have you ever used watercolor crayons and if you have, what’s your favorite technique? I’ll see you in the comments!
Looking for more info on mixed media supplies? Check out My 10 Favorite Mixed Media Art Supplies