I just completed my fourth chalk festival: Let's Chalk in Monticello, Minnesota this past weekend. I made a 3D-esk Wolverine coming out of the road claws out. This was made out of chalk pastel on a tempera base. In the end, it was about 12' x 10' and took about 15 hours. Here's a look at the finished piece:
And here's a view from the viewer's perspective:
I chose to use a stencil for this one which I created in advance. This doesn't save me time overall, but saves me time on site, which allows me to get my sketch down faster and spend more time on the colors and details. I designed the image digitally before creating the stencil. Here's how it looks once I lift up my stencil. I had to freehand draw the rest of the claws as I ran out of space to fit those into my stencil.
Though this was my fourth chalk festival, this was the first time my parents were able to attend one. They were always traveling or out of town for the previous chalk festivals I've participated in. It was a special moment for me and them to have them watch me work, see the work of the other incredible artists, and just enjoy this new part of my life.
My husband, Brett, is the real hero of the weekend though. He watches our two preschool-aged kids all weekend while I play with chalk and hang out with artists. He brought them to the festival both days so they can see all the "artistes" and watch Mom work. The kids are quickly learning not to get too close or step on the artwork, and love seeing what everyone creates. I always love hearing the pieces they remember or liked the most.
I always appreciate when I see family stop by, friends, or have unexpected run-ins. My in-laws have been able to attend every chalk festival and always love when they show and support. My father-in-law, Mike, often captures some fantastic photos for me too. Most of the ones picture here were taken by him.
We also got to see some extended family who attended and even had a run-in with two friends of mine I hadn't seen since college (almost 15 years ago!).
I always enjoy talking to people when they stop at my piece or ask questions. If you ever attend a chalk festival, don't be afraid to talk to the artist. Most of the time, we all love to talk, engage with the community, answer questions, etc.
At every festival, there are always new artists I am meeting that are local or have traveled in.
It was fun to spend more time with artists I had previously met, meet some new ones, and even those local to the city of Monticello. There were also some world-renowned chalk artists in attendance including the local-favorite, Shawn McCann, Nate Baranowski (his piece pictured), and Marisa Alvarado amongst others.
With every piece I do, I always have a goal or challenge I give myself. I try to limit myself to two things I'm working on per piece, especially if its a chalk festival because they are much larger and take more time.
For Wolverine, two goals I was focusing on were incorporating 3D-like elements and my blending/shading. For the 3D-like elements, I designed a piece to make it look like Wolverine was coming out of the ground (or at least as much as possible without skewing the image like in true 3D/anamorphic art). To achieve this, I spent time on the digital design I created upfront before creating my stencil, and focusing on getting the shadows right when I was on site. I really liked using the pieces of small "rock" I created out of the road to help make it more realistic. I also added cracks and used several actual cracks in the road to achieve this effect.
For the blending/shading, I wanted to make sure I improved in this areas as I still considered myself fairly new at it. I remember this past June, I worked really hard on blending/shading all in chalk on a Tinkerbell piece. It looked great after the first day and then it rained overnight washing away most of the detail I laid down in chalk. For this one, I decided to do more blending on the base with paint. This was my FIRST time painting a full piece's base before laying down the chalk. Usually, I just plop down a few generic blobs of colors and do full chalk over the entire piece, so painting was interesting. I got some support from a few other artists when it came to mixing colors and just tried to learn some different brush techniques to help get the base in as good of shape as possible.
Thankfully there was no rain anyway, and the base worked out perfectly to lay my chalk details on top the next day. This might be a strategy I use again in the future because it worked so well with this one.
And if you've read this far, thank you! Have you attended a chalk festival before? What do you think of the Wolverine piece and goals I tried to accomplish with this one? Share your thoughts in the comments.