Crayons—they’re not just for kids
Blow dryer in hand, local artist creates vibrant works with sticks of wax
Crayons, a heat gun and a hairdryer might not scream “art!” but it turns out this combination, paired with an artistically inclined operator, are the tools it takes to create vibrant canvases with themes like starry skies, hot springs and sunsets.
You can find Marin Palmer doing just that in her apartment in the Mountain Village—the hum of the gun and drier emanating from the doorway. She started making art this way two or so years ago, the colorful creations progressing in theme and style as she continues to hone in her unique skill.
Palmer, who works in mountain operations at Big Sky Resort, came to Big Sky from Michigan where she worked for Boyne Country Sports. In 2013, her boss invited her to tag along on a trip to Big Sky, which she eagerly accepted.
“I was like, ‘Yeah, that would be awesome. Yes, I do want to do that,’” she recalled. “And when I came out, I had a really awesome time. The mountain blew my mind.”
That summer she secured a job at Big Sky Resort at the newly opened Lone Peak Logo shop. Five years later, she’s still working there, living near the mountain and creating art in her cozy apartment, which she shares with her boyfriend and two cats, Milligan and Daugherty.
An affinity for art is in Palmer’s blood—her aunts are professional artists, and she recalls growing up with art as a pastime.
“It was like, ‘Oh, you’re bored? Make something,” she said, harking back to her youth. “So, it’s always been a thing.”
Before delving into the world of Crayola-creations, Palmer said she worked a lot in acrylics. She used them to make the paintings of Lone Peak-esque mountains that now grace her living room wall.
“These were from my first summer here, when I was just in awe of the peak, which is right out there. So, I’d just go out and paint it,” she said.
Then came the crayons. Early on she started by drawing a picture with them, followed by using a blow dryer to smooth out the lines. She progressed to a method she found to work better—shaving “little vegetable peels” of the crayons onto a canvas, melting them with an industrial “high heat, no wind” gun, and finally—the fun part—using a hairdryer to push the colors around.
“It’s really neat how it ends up blending together,” said Palmer as she demonstrated the process, slowly moving the heat gun across the canvas, the slivers of crayons turning to colorful little puddles. “I can’t really get that with brushes.” Finished, the image becomes the northern lights reflecting off of water.
To add some sparkle and shine to her art, Palmer uses glitter and shimmer crayons, as well as copper dust she got from a friend. She also adds stars that glow in the dark as well as shadowy silhouettes that have become a sort of niche for her.
“I don’t think I made this up,” Palmer said of the crayon art, “but I also didn’t get the idea from someone else. So, I don’t claim it as my own, but it’s something I’ve sort of evolved.”
Palmer said people at the craft store see her buying crayons so often they assumed she was a teacher. She’s continually re-upping her supply, and to get some of the unique colors she has to buy the “outrageous pack” with nearly 200 crayons. She said she’s looking into wholesale options, since some colors are more useful than others.
“Yeah, I buy a lot of crayons,” she said, glancing at the many tubs filled with them at her art station. “I’m a crazy crayon lady.”
Beyond painting, Palmer’s other art form is jewelry. For some pieces, she uses garnets and sapphires she found at gem mines around Southwest Montana. She also uses bismuth, a colorful, iridescent and geometrically shaped element that can be easily manipulated due to its low melting point.
You can find Palmer selling her art and jewelry creations at the Big Sky Farmers Market as well as online at Etsy as Lone Peak Jewels.