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How a scientific approach to crayons yields this artist's photorealistic portraits


Notice: Transcripts are machine and human generated and lightly edited for accuracy. They may contain errors.

Judy Woodruff: Ohio artist Christian Faur is making his mark with art supplies normally used by children.

Jackie Shafer of WOSU in Columbus reports for our Canvas art series.

Christian Faur: So, I have always done art when I was little, but I have also always been really interested in science and math.

I usually come up with ideas that are somewhat masochistic, whether it's like sewing human hair onto an umbrella, or just doing something that's ridiculously, like, labor-intensive, sticking shredded paper back together to form an image, or stacking 20,000 crayons.

One Christmas, I had been repackaging the crayons for my daughter. And it just kind of clicked in my head that these were the perfect shape. I came up with an idea that maybe I could use a mosaic to see if I can get some photorealism out of it.

And from that point on, I have been creating these crayon pieces. Initially, I did look into using Crayola crayons for my first piece. And I find that they only made 128 different colors, for the most part. They were expensive. I can buy them. They're $1 apiece.

A material that they're made out of was Paraffin wax. So it's a wax that is not going to hold up over time. And then, finally, nobody buys light crayons. So, when you bought a box of them, everything was dark.

Every color is important. So I had to make to make crayons. After working on the computer, I will finally get what I call an indexed photograph, which is a photograph that has a certain number of swatches or colors. And those swatches or colors is what I will use to cast the batches of crayons.

Then it's just a matter of assembling based on the map that I create. And then, when it's assembled, I'm able to then flip it around. And at that time, it's usually a little bit of work to fix certain elements, even though everything is usually -- looks photorealistically correct, there are like elements that you sometimes need to enhance.

So I will pull crayons in and out until it looks or feels right. Even though, when you see the pieces in the end, they feel like you're seeing -- you're seeing something that feels very photorealistic, the closer you get to it, you realize there's just not that much information. Your brain is actually filling in all that information for the work.

I have been working with the crayons for maybe even more than a decade now. As long as I'm able to create and have fun as an artist, I think I will be good.

I don't see myself running out of ideas anytime soon.

Judy Woodruff: Fascinating.

Artist Christian Faur.

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