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What memories are conjured up when you get a whiff of a brand new box of Crayola crayons? The scent is so unique that it can transport you back to your childhood in a heartbeat. Although I'm well into what is termed "midlife," I eagerly anticipate the experience of my son opening a new box of Crayola crayons. When he does, I'm flooded with memories of my own childhood, and the thrill and wonder of having - if I was lucky - 64 pristine colors from which to choose. The choices weren't always easy, and the box seemed to hold some unanswerable questions. Should I use Thistle or Orchid? Yellow or Lemon Yellow? Why did I have a Red Violet and a Violet Red, or a Green Yellow and a Yellow Green? What, exactly, did Raw Sienna and Raw Umber mean? 

Since my childhood, many colors have been retired and others added, so my son can choose from among 120 lustrous colors that range from Wild Blue Yonder and Unmellow Yellow to Purple Pizzazz and Laser Lemon. But, like generations of children before him, my son was set to learn to draw with Crayola Crayons. Learning how to draw was a delight, but he wanted to take his art education - and his Crayola crayons - to the next level. 

A couple of years ago, as luck would have it, I was watching "Good Morning America," one day. Crayola was celebrating its centennial, and there was a crayon artist named Jeffrey Robert on the program. I was amazed at the portrait he created of Charles Gibson, and was astounded that such fine art could be produced with Crayola crayons. Through his amazing photorealistic crayon art and coloring techniques, Jeffrey Robert produced art featuring beach chairs, coastal decor, as well as personalized art, wedding gifts, and prints.

After seeing Jeffrey Robert's work, my son was able to learn how to draw with Crayola crayons in a whole new way. One of the techniques the artist used was to draw in a circular motion, applying either light, medium, or heavy pressure. This produced a unique pattern as well as three unique colors. Another technique was to use straight lines, again with light, medium, or heavy pressure. A third technique was to use gradient color, gradually applying more or less pressure to achieve a smooth grade of light to dark. 

My son also learned how to color by applying layers of color, one on top of the other, starting with the darkest color and ending with the lightest. He also learned the technique of blending, so he could avoid the "paint by numbers" effect. 

It still astounds me to think that fine art isn't confined to oil paints, acrylic paints, pastels, chalk, and ink. It can be achieved with colors like Purple Heart, Pacific Blue, Mountain Meadow, and Pink Sherbet. Not only can anyone learn to draw with Crayola crayons, but they can take those ubiquitous wax sticks and transform them into masterpieces.

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