Chalk and Awe Part 2

Posted on: October 4, 2013

(continued from Part 1)

When I confirmed with the Chalk-the-Block organizer and myself that, Yes, I was in fact going to attempt Rockwell’s Rosie I became intent on finding out all I could about this ginger beauty.  At first glance she just looks like a dirty girl eating her sandwich on her lunch break.  On second glance you may notice she has several buttons across her overalls.  On third glance you may notice there’s a little something in her pocket.  On fourth glance you may notice…well, there’s a lot to notice.  And I’ll get into that in a bit.

I really wanted to know all about the details of this painting, and tried all the tricks I could think of to dig up the meaning of the 7 visible buttons that adorn Rosie’s overalls.  My super Google skills brought up little as far as specifics, but I did hit the jack-pot when I came across an amazingly beautiful and photo-filled blog, the eff stop (there are also photos of the breathtaking Rosie tattoo recently acquired by the author).  Lorri had done a fantastic job capturing the beauty of the painting as she hung in her permanent home, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art located in Bentonville, Arkansas.  I commented on her post asking if she had any info on the buttons.  She graciously sent me a stunning photo she had taken on her visit of those buttons!

Between the time I made my original comment on the eff stop post and the time Lorri sent me the button photo, I also reached out to the director of education for Rosie’s home museum.  The director was extremely helpful, and shared with me a brochure that was passed out during an “Art Talk” Crystal Bridges had held on Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter painting.  It not only included the explanation of the buttons in question, but also links to historical sites that helped identify the buttons.

Armed with the knowledge of Rosie’s symbolism, I got to work practicing.  My first attempt was a complete F.L.O.P.  I attempted to draw from a black and white copy of the original painting, and that just did not work.  I needed the defined lines.  So, I reverted to my old school days, and made a carbon copy of Rosie.  By coloring heavily on the back of the picture with a pencil, placing a clean sheet of paper under the picture, and outlining Rosie with excess pressure I was able to transfer an outline to the clean sheet.  Then I traced that pencil outline with a fine tipped pen, and I had my solid black outline that I’m comfortable drawing from.

Here at home I make my own black sidewalk chalk.  It works great on the light color of the driveway and looks similar to a pencil.  I did a much better practice of Rosie with the outline as my guide, and I was more confident about recreating her at the festival.  I colored her in with my usual Crayola sidewalk chalk, she was looking good, and I was feeling good!  I should have known it couldn’t be that easy…


The Chalk the Block festival was being held at Easton Town Center.  In my naivete, I figured we’d be drawing on the sidewalk.  The light, smooth, even sidewalk.  Oh friends, how wrong I was.  While looking through the gallery of the 2012 event, I quickly noticed that the artists were not drawing on the sidewalk, they were drawing on the road.  The dark, coarse, bumpy road!!!  *audible gasp*  A quick email to the organizer confirmed that, Yes, we would be chalking on the road.  It also informed me that we would all be given a large box of professional chalk pastels which they preferred we use, EXCLUSIVELY, to create our drawings.  Now, I’d never used a chalk pastel in my life.  I’d also never drawn on the road before, save for the quick Scooby I did for my son’s birthday on the school playground, but that was more crumbly black top than road.  Welcome back, freak-out mode!!  (to be continued…)


10 Responses to "Chalk and Awe Part 2"

Wow – working on a surface like that has to be very difficult! Your template looks a lot like my artist’s stencil. Thanks for the shout out. Was this done at Easton in Columbus?

The picture posted here is on my driveway at home. This was my first real practice after I made my carbon transfer of Rosie. I thought it looked like the tattoo stencil too 🙂 Yes, the chalk festival was at Easton in Columbus. It’s about an hour and a half from Dayton, where I am.

I lived in Columbus for about 6 years and was there when Easton opened – I love that they bring art events there – just wish they would let you draw on the sidewalks 🙂

No way! That is incredible that you lived there for 6 years 😀 How weird the small world is. Amazing. I’m glad to have found you, and I think it’s so cool that you are familiar with the location. Just another confirmation that Rosie chose me and I didn’t choose her!

And, by the way, i read your “About Me” page, and I love making t-shirts 🙂 I love to use iron-on printer paper and make designs for my kids in Publisher. I’m glad you found a job doing something so fun!!

I’ve just been taken interest in chalking. Do you have any tutorials on how your doing this with pastels? I’ve been just using regular childrens chalk, as well. How are you getting the smooth look and shading? How do you get the image from the paper to the pavement? Are you free handing from the picture? We also tried making black chalk.. it was complete flop, turning out grey. Tips?

Hi Steve! Honestly, the chalk event I participated in was the first time I have ever touched a chalk pastel in my life. Seriously. I, too, use regular Crayola sidewalk chalk for all of my chalkings here at home. I do follow some basic shading/coloring techniques I picked up on a video using colored pencils. You can find that video HERE. When I color in, I color heavily in one section, then smooth the “dust” out with my hands. It makes for a great mess!! The chalk pastels are much more rich in color, and a whole lot messier. While I did like using them, they stay on pavement for a long time, much longer than the regular chalk, and they are much harder to clean off of yourself. I had to paint my nails for a week because they were black underneath from the charcoals. I make my own black chalk, but you are right, it isn’t a deep, dark black. It is more of a dark gray. You could try mixing in more powdered tempera paint. The amount of paint added to the plaster of Paris will dictate how rich the color is. I don’t measure mine, I usually just dump a bunch in 🙂 I do free-hand all of my drawings. Any picture I use must have a solid outline. When looking for an image to draw, I look for coloring pages. When I did Tom & Jerry I Googled Tom and Jerry Coloring Pages. I do not grid my images, but almost all of the artists at the chalk festival did use a grid. I’d love to see your chalk! Let me know if you share any on Flickr or Instagram. Happy Chalking!!!!

What an impressive reply! Thank you!! It’s nice to find someone that shares this interest in chalking. I stared a project page on Facebook, called “Midcities Sidewalk Chalk Project”. It’s an extension of a few other chalk projects that have their own FB pages, too. Their goal is to chalk small inspirational, motivational sayings, so I thought that was cool to be a part of. I post the images here on my blog, then share them to that page, a google plus page and pinterest. I guess I need to get back into instagram now, epecially since my daughters are into that social media site. There is just way too many. What ever happened to myspace? haha. Off tangent, I know.. Ok, I started the rubbing of the chalk technique, but wear a glove to do it. After rubbing my finger raw the first few times. I did see where gridding is used. Not sure about that, yet. I started doing this just for fun with my girls, but have become a little obsessive. haha. I won’t stop till I’m making those cool 3D one’s that take days to do. hahaha

I started chalking outside too while the kids were playing and I had to be out there so they didn’t get run over or anything 🙂 I’ll be sure to check out your FB page. Here is the album from the Chalk the Block event. I took photos the day after the even of all the pieces. All are beautiful, but some are crazy impressive!! Easton Chalk the Block 2013

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