Since writing that post I have discovered other supplies that started out as extras but have become part of my essential toolkit.
Of these new supplies, the ones that have changed my workflow most are oil crayons. There are a few things that I love about oil crayons.
- They make it easier to face a blank page. I use oil crayons in a way that is similar to the way I paint. You can turn your oil crayon on its side and fill the page with a light wash of color before creating a detailed, formed picture. Definitely less intimidating.
- They discourage outlining. If you guide your students through a drawing beginning with oil crayons and continuing to use them for as long as possible, they will avoid the tendency to draw outlines of the figures they are drawing.
- The range of pigment available is rich and diverse. Students can draw very lightly with oil crayons but they can also create beautifully rich drawings.
Basically, oil crayons allow your older students to benefit from the advantages of block crayons, without feeling like they are still kindergarteners.
So, my favorite oil crayons? Here they are.
These Filia Oil Crayons were the first ones I started using and I really love them. They are especially great for the students I have who tend to draw very darkly. The colors are beautifully transparent which prevents children from coating the page so thoroughly with pigment that their drawings look as though they were done with markers. These crayons work great for drawings that include a combination of crayon and colored pencils. The foundation of oil crayon accepts the colored pencil just fine and though you can get a fair amount of detail with the point of the oil crayon, colored pencils allow for greater detail and depth of color.
These Caran D’Ache oil crayons were the ones I purchased for my students this year. We had our pencils leftover from last year, so I felt that we could splurge a bit on an extra-special tool. They are definitely more expensive than the Filia crayons, but for some people they are perfect. Personally, I love drawing with them. They allow me to draw with rich depth of color and I love the way that the colors layer over each other.
They take a delicate hand, though, and some of my students have a hard time getting good results with them. It is very easy to draw deep, dark pictures with these and many of my students end up with pages that are coated with layer upon layer of wax. Because the pigment comes off the crayon so much more easily, the crayons themselves are less dense and more easily broken, and many of my students have fragments of crayons left to work with. If I had it to do again, I would have saved these for 6th or 7th grade when my students will be mature enough to handle the pigment and delicate nature of these crayons. If you have an older child who takes great, delicate care with art projects, or if you’re an adult who loves to draw with the crayons they give out at restaurants, these are for you.
Next year, I imagine we will return to the Filia crayons, but I’ll probably invest in a larger set (they go all the way up to 36 crayons in a set.)