“Let’s overcome these barriers” says Shibasaki, who just might be everyone’s kind and cool Japanese art uncle.

They say it’s a poor craftsman who blames his tools, but what if you’re a poor artist in the sense that you simply don’t have a lot of money to spend on art supplies? You might find yourself searching for the least expensive pigments you can find, and that search might lead you to Daiso, Japan’s largest 100 yen store chain.

Daiso, as we’re all aware by now, sells everything, and sure enough, you can find crayons there. What’s more, they offer a pretty fancy-looking box of 12 metallic and fluorescent colors, all for their standard price of just 100 yen (US$0.92). But while Daiso selling crayons was a forgone conclusion, the real question is whether you can make beautiful art with them, and here with an answer is Harumichi Shibasaki.

Shibasaki may not be someone you’re familiar with, but his YouTube channel, Watercolor by Shibasaki, will instantly make you feel welcome. A veteran art instructor with a career spanning more than 40 years, Shibasaki has a warm, soft-spoken personality, and watching his videos you might find yourself wondering if the artist is actually a kind-hearted, laid-back Japanese uncle you never knew you had.

In the video below (which has English subtitles that can be turned on in the settings), Shibasaki sets out to create a picture using the Daiso crayons. He doesn’t say what he’s going to draw, asking you to see if you can guess before it’s finished, but at the very start he drops the hints that it’s a large animal native to Africa.

Shibasaki recognizes that using metallic and neon colors to paint wildlife is an unusual choice, and the way he goes about the process is surprising too. After a few quick body outlines, he starts working his way through the fluorescent colors one by one, adding wide patches of hue to test their appearance and the crayons’ feel. None of this is going to be cut out or wasted though; it’s all going to be part of the final picture.

He quickly finds out that there are some compromises that come with such budget-friendly supplies. The crayons leave behind a lot of powdery particles that need to be periodically swept off the paper, and in some cases don’t lay down as much color as he’d expect for a stroke, although the problems can be alleviated by pressing down more forcefully when drawing. Shibasaki’s strongest praise for the fluorescents are for the yellow and green crayons, with the latter, he says, really helping to bring out more of the lackluster red crayon’s color through the contrast it creates.

The metallic crayons don’t fare as well, though. Shibasaki’s intent was to use them for drawing the animal’s body, but they aren’t leaving quite enough color on the paper to add the details he wants, leading him to wonder if they lack a sufficient amount of base pigment. So to finish off the piece, Shibasaki switches over to some pricier Pentel crayons, whose fluorescents also make for smoother layering than the Daiso ones.

In the end, Shibasaki’s African animal comes out incredibly well, and his decision to combine fluorescent colors and wildlife has a soothing retro vibe, like something you might see hanging on a cafe wall in 1987.

As for his thoughts on the Daiso crayons? He’s got mixed feelings, saying “The fluorescent colors are pretty good! But the metallic effect I was expecting didn’t show at all. The fluorescent effects are lots of fun and great.” That doesn’t mean he regrets using them, though, and during the video he muses “But I feel more driven when facing such difficulties. Let’s overcome these barriers.”

So they may not be professional-grade, but if you’re of the mind that art is supposed to be fun, you should be able to get some artistic fun out of Daiso’s crayons (just remember that having fun with Daiso’s Light Up Poop Stick is still prohibited).

Related: Watercolor by Shibasaki YouTube channel
Source: YouTube/Watercolor by Shibasaki via Hachima Kiko
Images: YouTube/Watercolor by Shibasaki
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