Posts Tagged ‘Chalk Pastels

minion progress

Hindsight is 20/20, especially when you are a 37-year-old mother of 3 who just wrapped up a day of sidewalk chalk art, and you’re comparing a piece you did 2 year ago to a piece you completed for a gig today (see above!).  I’ve been very lucky this year.  I’ve been given some amazing opportunities to create chalk art for some amazing people and organizations.  One thing that always come up when I’m chatting with on-lookers is how I got started chalking.  It’s pretty simple, and you can read about it HERE if you really want to.  But, something that wasn’t in that original story, and something I include in my story now that I’m chalking on a regular basis is this:  my 9th grade art teacher told me not to waste my time on art.

Let me say that again, differently…An adult who had a job teaching children to use, understand, and appreciate art told a 14-year-old girl, who believed what adults in a position of authority said, to not waste her time on it.  Told a girl who loved to draw not to waste her time.  Told a girl who had sketchbooks full of floor plans, paintings, sketches, cartoons, and fashion designs not to waste her time. Told a girl who would pause Disney VHS tapes so she could recreate an image not to waste her time. Told a girl who would paint end pieces of a 2×4 to look like books and houses not to waste her time.  Told a girl who would decorate river rocks with markers and paint and glue to not waste her time…

So she didn’t waste her time.  And she didn’t draw again, until she was a 34-year-old mother of 3 who was filling her time while her children played outside.

I haven’t really thought about that very much until today.  That’s probably why I’ve dusted off the ol’ blog for an entry.  But it makes me sad, and a little misty eyed for that girl.  Looking at the progress I’ve made as an adult just these last 3 years makes me wonder how I might have progressed as a teenager if I’d been given a better opportunity.  Or, at least been given ANY opportunity.

Now, don’t get me wrong; I didn’t fall into a black pit of teenage despair.  Since I love to sing, I pursued a fun and fulfilling chorus and musical theater career in high school.  Some of my favorite people in the world are people who were part of that chapter of my life, and I wouldn’t trade them, or the time I spent on stage, for all the art lessons in the world.  But people aren’t hiring me to sing for them today.  They ARE hiring me to create chalk art for them.

I’ve learned a lot in the last 3 years, and I’ve gained a small, but flourishing, network of creative geniuses.  They are some of the most amazing artists I’ve ever met, and better mentors than any high school art teacher I could have asked for.  They have been supportive, informative, critical, and compassionate.  I appreciate their honesty, friendship, and direction more than I can ever express to them.

But I would like to say to my 14-year-old self, you don’t have to listen to everything adults tell you.  Most of the time they mean well, but they might drop the ball. Don’t let your ball get dropped.  If it does, pick it up and carry it yourself.  Don’t stop drawing.  Don’t stop learning.  Don’t stop creating.  The fire of creativity is a passionate flame that will only be squelched for so long.  Fan that flame, girl.  Fan it!



(continued from Part 2)

After taking a few minutes to have a minor nervous breakdown over the fact that I would be creating a piece on the dark street I pulled myself together.  I still had plenty of time to practice and I knew I could successfully draw Rosie; the goal now was drawing her on the road and practicing with chalk pastels.  Luckily, we live on a cul-de-sac in a rural neighborhood.  The street that runs in front of my house is similar to the surface at Easton Town Center.  During the day we don’t get much traffic, so I was able to park my car on the street and draw on the road behind the car.  I went to a local art supply store and picked up a box of black chalk pastel sticks and a box of colored chalk pastels.  Again, my inexperience go the better of me!

If you’ve never used a chalk pastel, or you’re not really familiar with them, they are basically a stick of pressed pigment.  They are very densely colored, easy to draw with, and easy to blend.  Also a little goes a long LONG way.  And, when I say they are easy to blend, you should also read this as “easy to smear all over the place even when you aren’t trying to blend!”  On my first attempt on our back patio I tried to outline Rosie using the sticks of black pastel.  Before I had finished her shoulders the top of her head had started to smear from me moving around.  I was just doing a quick sketch so I could learn the properties of the pastels so I hadn’t intended to draw the full figure.  She looked AWFUL!!!  I then attempted to color her in and she went from bad to worse!  The chalk pastels don’t really come in a “flesh” tone.  Since they are used by trained artists, they are meant to be blended.  You’re supposed to know how to mix 2 (or more) of the colors available to make the new color you desire.  Well, I’m not a trained artist, and I’ve been very happy with my Crayola peach colored chalk!!  I attempted to color Rosie’s face with the pastels, but all of her black outline smeared, her face looked like a zombie corpse thing, and she was bad bad bad.  Her hair did turn out great though, so there was a glimmer of hope.  I gave up on this attempt and vowed that I would NOT be coloring Rosie’s face with the chalk pastels.  I would just take my Crayolas with me for her face.  I wasn’t going to botch the face of my piece just because my experience in color blending is limited to none.

My next hurdle was the road.  Now that I knew chalk pastels were out for doing my outline I went old school.  I dug around in my kitchen junk drawer and came up with about 2.5 sticks of regular old white school chalk.  I knew this would work.  It really had to because my homemade chalk would not show up on the road and the chalk pastels would not stay put once laid down.  With my black outline and school chalk in hand I got to work on another practice piece.  This time on the road.  I was pleasantly surprised with the ease of it, and happy with the white school chalk on the dark surface.  I breathed a huge sigh of relief, and focused on getting to know all about Rosie as the person and not just the girl in the painting (to be continued…)


Street practice using basic white school chalk.

(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…)

Welcome friend!  I have a long story to tell you.  I hope you’ll follow along.  I’ll be breaking it up into a series so it doesn’t get too overwhelming!

A few months ago I posted how I liked to spend my summer months outside doing some sidewalk chalk art while the kids play.  We had a great summer, and I got to create some really fun pieces.  I also started posting my chalkings to Instagram (#notyourmommaschalk), and then sifting through the #sidewalkchalk posts.  I came across a few from a chalk festival in St. Louis.  I was unaware that such things existed, and knew I had to attend one.  I commented on one of the photos, and received a reply telling me about an upcoming festival about 2 hours from home.  Long story short, I submitted an entry and was selected to be one of 32 artists at the festival!!

I’ve only ever done cartoon characters, and my subjects have to have a solid black outline.  You can imagine the panic attack I had when I got an email from the organizer letting me know that they preferred the artists didn’t do a licensed character. *audible gasp*  They didn’t say we couldn’t do one, just that they preferred we do something more original.  So, I stressed for a day or two.  Thought about enlisting the help of my tattoo artist to draw me something original that I could copy (in exchange for crocheted goods).  Thought about trying tweak an existing character (IE: Tinkerbell as a Buckeye cheerleader). Stressed some more, and continued searching Google Images for inspiration.

As the event date loomed over me, and I had about 2 weeks to decide on a subject, I searched everything that came to mind.  Out of genius or frustration, I’m not sure, I searched Wonder Woman.  After skimming the usual images that pop up of classic and trampy Wonder Woman I glimpsed a face that I knew very well, and it was not the super hero of my search.  This was a face that I have grown up seeing, a face that many recognize, a face to define a generation, an icon of American history and the women of this great country.  She was also a face that had a twin.  A twin that I have loved deeply since I was a child.  This twin is not as famous as the other.  She doesn’t have a punchy catchphrase.  She isn’t as made-up.  She isn’t as clean.  What she IS is a hardworking, all American girl who did her job, did it well, and loved her country.

Meet the Rosie Twins:


If you don’t know, both of these images are a depiction of a World War II icon symbolizing the women of the time who had to pick up the factory slack when the men got shipped off to war.  She is known as Rosie the Riveter, and has quite an amazing history.  The Rosie on the left is the most well-known.  She was used on posters introduced by the United States Government in its propaganda campaign to entice women into war work.  The Rosie on the right is a painting done by the amazing Norman Rockwell.  It was used on the May 29th cover of the Saturday Evening Post in 1943.  While I am fond of both Rosies, the Rockwell holds a special place in my heart.  I have loved her for as long as I have known her, and that is a long time.

I had been toying with the idea of chalking a Rockwell here a home for a while.  I have been a huge Norman Rockwell fan most of my life thanks to my grandparents whose home was filled with Rockwell objet d’art.  I had never been brave enough to tackle such an iconic and artistic genius.  A Rockwell would be way out of my comfort zone.  For some crazy reason I thought a huge public chalk festival would be the perfect venue to try it out!!  Momentary insanity???  Probably…  (to be continued)

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