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The Crayon Man

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Posted: Saturday, February 27, 2010 12:00 pm | Updated: 9:09 am, Thu Aug 16, 2012.

By Todd Martin

Special to the Daily Herald

You never know what could come from hours and hours of drawing with a crayon.

Todd Alan started drawing with the popular waxy medium 33 years ago and today, his work is displayed in a gallery in Alabama and he is known as The Crayon Man.

The Crayola Company has even formed some colors just for him and brought back a discontinued one called goldenrod at his request.

Two summers ago, Union Grove Middle School art teacher Angelique Hall stepped into a Gulf Shores, Ala., gallery and ended up inviting Alan to come to Killeen to talk to her students.

A year of e-mails with Sheila Donahue, KISD's fine arts director, brought the artist to town and he brought along a crayon masterpiece made from 13 photos of Killeen landmarks.

The framed, matted crayon piece will be sold at silent auction between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. today at the Take 190 West Art Festival at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center. Funds raised will benefit the KISD Fine Arts program.

The library provided Alan 179 archived photos depicting Killeen's early years. The artist had never visited the town.

"I'd never been to Killeen," he said before an art demonstration at Union Grove Middle School in Harker Heights Thursday. "It looked like a small town. I was quite surprised how big it is."

The Killeen landmark piece, like virtually all of Alan's works, is done completely in crayons. He used sepia tones to maintain the quality of the black and white photos. He combined shades of tan, black and brown with a bit of blue.

Those who see the collage may first be drawn to the familiar figure of Elvis Presley in one corner.

Landmarks include a white church with century-old cars parked in the dirt driveway, an early Killeen City Hall building and a Killeen High School building that burned down.

There's a man on a tractor, a pair of Shriners on motorcycles, the Killeen Public Library with a flag at half-staff and the Ding Dong Store.

Alan visited middle schools and high schools in Killeen ISD as part of the district's visual art show and the Take 190 West Art Festival.

Many examples

He showed several examples of his crayon artwork and shared some techniques on using textures and blending. He even pulled out an eyeliner sharpener, which he recommended for keeping crayons sharp.

Alan said he draws freehand and doesn't start a piece until he completes research on the subject. The crayon artist favors landscapes and animals.

He showed students a piece of a waterway in Magnolia, Ala., which he said is the only place in the world where mail is delivered by boat.

The artist said he joined the mail carrier on his route to inspire the scene he wanted to draw. The result was a boat dock with a mailbox in one corner and a group of curious dogs and a pelican looking on.

Many of Alan's works depict animals and require research to correctly produce the muscle tone and bone structure. He showed a picture of a sea turtle as an example.

Another piece of an alligator, Alan said, inspired the artist to sit for three months watching the reptiles. He said he took more than 600 photos of a 'gator before starting to create the picture.

"This shows kids anything is possible if you want to do it," said Hall, the art teacher at Union Grove who helped bring Alan to Killeen. "If you're willing to experiment with art, anything is possible."

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