Art Subscription Box Review: Creative Art Box

A couple months ago, I was contacted by Lena at Creative Art Box.  Creative Art Box had recently launched, and they were looking for bloggers to help spread the word.  Lena sent me the April box, so I could share it here with you guys, and also consented to an interview, which I'm sharing later in the week, so if that piques your interest, make sure you check back for that.

This box was provided at no cost to me, for the purposes of review and publicity.  If you're interested in checking out Creative Art Box for yourself, please visit their website.

About Creative Art Box

Creative Art Box is a new subscription box services that supplies art supplies in every monthly box.  Customers have the option of two tiers- the Basic Box and the Premium Box.  Lena sent me the Basic Box for this month.  The Basic Box is $29.00, including shipping, and customers have the option to upgrade to the Premium Box, which includes more supplies, for an additional $5.  I recommend upgrading to the Premium Box if you're interested in this service, as the April Premium Box had more goodies inside.  Most of the shots you see on the website are from past Premium Boxes.

Creative Art Box strives to set itself apart from other subscription services by providing tutorials and information to subscribers through their website and blog.  You can check out some of the resources Creative Art Box has pinned for their April Oil Pastel box here.  Creative Art Box also features an artist each month, this month's artist is Laura Enninga.

Creative Art Box absorbs the cost of shipping, and considering they aren't accessing a business rate at this time, that can be a hefty chunk of change.  After interviewing the founder, Lena, I've learned that Creative Art Box has big plans for future boxes, and intends to include more products per box as their customer base grows and they're able to establish relationships with art material suppliers.

April Unboxing

April Creative Art Box Basic Unboxing- Becca Hillburn

This month's theme was oil pastel- specifically Sakura of America's Expressionist Cras Pas.  Sakura has three tiers of oil pastels- Expressionist, Junior Artist, and Specialist.

Oil Pastels aren't a medium I use often in my studio, so I had to do a little research to prep for this month's unboxing.  In the past (like, two decades ago), I used oil pastels regularly in my elementary school art classes, and really enjoyed using them, so I looked forward to playing around with the Cras Pas included in my April Box.

Materials Included in the April Basic Box
1 package of Multicultural Cras Pas (12 colors)
1 blender Cras Pas
1 Cotman watercolor postcard
1 Canvas card ATC
1 Sticker
1 Informational Card

Everything inside the box was packaged securely- the Multicultural Cras Pas arrived in their own sturdy cardboard box, and the blender Cras Pas arrived wrapped in tissue paper.

The Card Reads:

Creative Art Box

Oil Pastels are formulated with extra-fine quality pigments, waxes, and oils.  They are perfect for very smooth drawing and a wide range of effects, from bold, intense strokes to subtle shading.  They are suitable for many surfaces, including paper, board, canvas, and wood.

They get dirty fast so you will want a cloth to keep them clean...and gloves or a cloth for your hands too.

Your colorless oil pastel aids in further color expansion for an infinite continuation of color hues and for blending pastels to create smooth transitions.

Since oil pastes can leak through paper you will find an artist post card at 140lb paper and an artist trading card at 200 lbs paper for you to practice on included in your box.

Premium Box: You will find an additional set of 12 oil pastels included in your box in vibrant colors, along with some extra artist trading cards to practice on.

Don't forget to follow us on social media and tag your box reveal or artwork to win extra surprises in your next box!



Some Facts About Oil Pastels

The invention of the oil pastel crayon:

At the end of World War I, Kanae Yamamoto proposed an overhaul of the Japanese education system. He thought that it had been geared too much towards uncritical absorption of information by imitation and wanted to promote a less restraining system, a vision he expounded in his book Theory of self-expression which described the Jiyu-ga method, "learning without a teacher". Teachers Rinzo Satake and his brother-in-law Shuku Sasaki read Yamamoto's work and became fanatical supporters. They became keen to implement his ideas by replacing the many hours Japanese children had to spend drawing ideograms with black Indian ink with free drawing hours, filled with as much as colour as possible. For this, they decided to produce an improved wax crayon and in 1921 founded the Sakura Cray-Pas Company and began production. The new product wasn't completely satisfactory, pigment concentration was low and blending or impasto was impossible, so in 1924 they decided to develop a high viscosity crayon: the oil pastel. This used a mixture of mashed paraffin, stearic acid and coconut oil as a binder. Designed as a relatively cheap, easily applied, colorful medium, oil pastels granted younger artists and students a greater freedom of expression than the expensive chalk-like pastels normally associated with the fine arts. Until the addition of a stabiliser in 1927, oil pastels came in two types: winter pastels with additional oil to prevent hardening and summer pastels with little oil to avoid melting. State schools simply couldn't afford the medium and, suspicious of the very idea of "self-expression" in general, favoured the coloured pencil, a cheaper German invention then widely promoted in Europe as a means to instill work discipline in young children.

Source:  Wikipedia, Oil Pastel

Comment:  How cool is this?  Inspired by the desire to improve education for children, two teachers seeking to increase artistic expression create the same oil pastel I'm holding today.

Oil pastels can be blended out, or used for washes with a 50/50 solution of linseed oil and turpentine (or mineral spirits).   Unfortunately, I don't use oil pastels often, so I lack most of the materials necessary, and had to make due.

If you don't seal your oil pastel illustrations, they will stain your other artwork, so I recommend picking up a can of spray fixative.  My favorite for years has been Krylon's Matte Finish, which was recommended to me years ago when I was a freshman at UNO.  This spray fixative should be fairly easy to find, I believe I purchased many cans from Michael's back in the day.

Materials Demonstration

Additional Materials Used:

Since I haven't used oil pastels in a few years, I wanted to experiment a bit with the materials included in my Creative Art Box before deciding on what to do for my April challenge.  I recorded video for this, but unfortunately I'm having trouble locating it for editing, but fortunately I have some in progress photos.

I pulled out some papers I thought would compliment my Cras Pas- some Canson XL watercolor paper, and a piece of canvas board.  I wanted to test out how well these oil pastels blend- especially since Creative Art Box included a blending pastel.

I found Sakura's Cray Pas a bit chalky for oil pastels- there was a lot of dust left over when the oil pastels were applied to paper that needed to be carefully brushed away before I could continue.  The colors don't blend together particularly well due to how chalky these pastels are.  If I planned on using these pastels in the future, I would need to buy some linseed oil to facilitate blending.  The blender pastel, which is made just from the blending agent and binder, didn't do much to facilitate blending either.

On the piece of canvas board, I demonstrated some impasto techniques- scraping away  layers of pastel and replacing with a new color.  Although the pastels handle better on the heavily textured canvas board, it's still difficult for me to build up layers of color due to the chalkiness of the pastels.

After I finished swatching and blending tests, I sprayed my XL watercolor paper with the Krylon Matte Finish mentioned above.

Creative Art Box Basic Challenge

April Creative Art Box Challenge-Becca Hillburn

Additional Materials Used:

I decided to use my multicultural crayons to create a three tone illustration- yellow ochre, burnt umber, and sepia.  I decided to sketch a photo of my cat Bowie, and after completing my sketch, inked the piece with the FW Acrylic Ink and a Creative Mark Rhapsody 00 brush.  After inking, I allowed the ink to cure undisturbed for 24 hours before erasing pencils.

After erasing the pencils, I began applying washes of watercolor to the Cotman watercolor postcard included in my April Creative Art Box.

Once my watercolors had dried, I starteed applying the oil pastel, buffing out areas with an inexpensive makeup sponge.  The sponge picks up much of the pastel, leaving a very soft, hazy blend that can take additional layers.

Once I finished applying oil pastel, I gave certain areas another wash of watercolor to deepen the color, and sprayed the piece down with my Matte Finish.


Right now, Creative Art Box is still getting it's feet wet and establishing an audience.  It definitely has a little growing to do, and a few things to figure out, but I look forward to watching it grow and offering feedback whenever I can. 

If Creative Art Box has sparked your interest, keep your eyes open this week for an interview with founder Lena!


The Creative Art Box featured in this post was sent to me care-of from Creative Art Box for the purposes of promotion and review.  If you are interested in sponsoring a post, a month of content, or sending a product for review and promotion, please check out this post.  Sponsored content can include unboxings, demonstrations, tutorials, and interviews, and is not just open to companies, but to individual comic artists looking to promote their work.  If you are a comic artist interested in promoting your comic, please email me for information.  Sponsorship is also available on a personal level through my Patreon.


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