Artist Cameron Milton, 30, admits he's never lost sight of his inner child.
"I suppose I am a child at heart," Milton said. "I still play with Legos, I enjoy Pixar movies and I still use crayons."
It's the paintings he creates with those crayons that are extraordinary. Milton's interest in crayon art began last year, even though he's been interested in art for as long as he can remember.
"What drew me to crayons, instead of acrylic or oils, was partly because I wanted to do something unique that I haven't seen before. I also wanted to take a medium that is only ever thought of in terms of children and create something that everyone would enjoy."
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The process of crayon art has nothing to do with a colorbook, either. Milton applies the crayon colors by melting the wax using a hair dryer on his canvas.
But before that process begins, he starts a project like any other painting, by sketching it out on a canvas using a pencil. Once he has the image outline, he melts the crayons to fill in the image he wants to create, whether it's Snow White or Jimi Hendrix.
"Unlike oil or acrylic where color can be mixed easily or layered on top of each other," Milton said, "a melted crayon artwork needs to be thought out completely in advance, where the colors will be, and in what order they need to be applied."
Using the hair dryer to melt the crayon color onto his canvas is like using a paintbrush, he explained, and applying the correct ratio of heat, air and crayon is a delicate balance.
"My paintings range in variety from full-on color and details to selective color, where the image revealed is in the negative space," he said.
He prefers to create whimsical images that work well with splatter and give his paintings a textured, three-dimensional and abstract quality.
Milton uses Crayola crayons to create his art because he believes they have the highest quality and balance of paraffin and pigment. His crayon art sells anywhere from $128 to $3,000. He buys his crayons wholesale through Crayola and also keeps watch at yard sales for the brand.
"It's more expensive to use Crayola, but it's worth it," he said.
For now, his crayon art is a hobby, though he longs to create all kinds of art as a career one day. He works for the Richland School District as a facility technician, specializing in lighting and sound for the theater department.
"My heart has always been with the arts in general," he said. "My earliest memory is of theater when I played a farmer in a school play at Tapteal Elementary. I got interested in the visual arts while attending Hanford High. I just like working with my hands, creating images, using pastels and acrylics. And now crayon art."
Milton and wife Diana are expecting their first child in March, and the soon-to-be dad said he'll have no trouble coming up with crayon art for the nursery walls.
He also hopes to have his own crayon art exhibition next summer if he's accepted into Allied Arts' annual Art in the Park show at Howard Amon Park in Richland.
He turned a room in his Pasco home into a studio, where the high walls are filled with his art from poster size to notebook size.
"I'm lucky because my wife lets me make a mess in this room," he said.
To see his art, go to www.etsy.com/people/cameronmilton.
-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @dorioneal