Art Crayons

Four homemade crayons with bands of wax in different widths and colorsArt Crayons came out of my graduate school class on data storytelling. These are data visualizations—in the form of crayons—of the distribution of colors in works of art.

To make these, my partner and I ran images of art works through a color analysis tool called RoyGBiv and then matched the top five colors to Crayola colors using the Cooper Hewitt’s palette-server. Armed with Crayolas and a microwave, we melted crayons down to make wholly new ones. The height of each color indicates the percentage of that color found in that particular painting, drawing, or print.

Georgia O’Keeffe, Music, Pink and Blue No. 2, 1918, Whitney Museum of American Art
Georgia O’Keeffe, Music, Pink and Blue No. 2, 1918, Whitney Museum of American Art
A stumpy crayon with different bands of color: pink, lavender, navy, purple, and cornflower blue
Crayon corresponding to Georgia O’Keeffe’s Music, Pink and Blue No. 2

The entire toolkit: crayons, packaging, and workbookFor our final project, we decided to build on this concept to develop the Art Crayon Toolkit. Our goal was to create an art activity set that engages kids with data, artworks, and art making. Each toolkit consists of several components:

  • A pack of eight crayons, four of which are artwork-based, with four supplementary colors;
  • Packaging, include labels for the crayons and boxes to contain them;
  • An educational activity workbook to accompany the crayons.

Our second version of the art crayons


Art Crayons, or, Visualizing Paintings in Melted Wax blog post on Museum Making
Art Crayons Toolkit: Using Color Data to Engage with Art blog post on Museum Making