Friday, July 27, 2012

Chalking with the Locals in Buffalo

This was my second time chalking in Buffalo, but the first time working with local artists.  Marie Verger, the organizational force behind the festival, was able to encourage two artists to participate.  Jenny Wuerker, a landscape painter with a gallery in town, and Steve Heil, the local high school art teacher, were my assistants for the day, and did a fantastic job!
Jenny Wuerker, Jennifer Chaparro, lead artist, and Steve Heil.
We started at 8:00 am in the morning.  It took about an hour and a half to get the art set up and the tempera paint down, and transfer the design with the template.  Here is Steve getting the tempera down with a roller.  I was sweating already, as temperatures were in the mid 80's before 10 am.
Steve finishes up the tempera layer.
We were making pretty good time, until about 1:30pm, and the rain started.  We watched it come in, and had two tents up, but had to scramble to get the plastic and tarp down over the art.  At first, it looked like it would be a minor shower, and then move on.  But it kept raining, and then it started running down the sloped parking lot and down the cracks in the concrete.  It lasted about an hour, and we quickly pulled off the plastic to minimize damage and get it to dry as quickly as possible.

Steve and I hold down the plastic, and wait for the rain to stop.
We jumped back on it, and really work hard to get the piece done in one day.  The sun came back out and it got pretty hot again, so we were glad we had the tents.  The size of the art was about 12' wide by 20' long, so that you could sit on the horse in the picture. 
Jenny and I work on the colt and try to figure out the tangle of legs.
Jenny typically works with paint, and had never used pastels before, so this was all new to her.  The technique of layering the chalk takes a little bit of getting used to, I have to admit.  I think it is similar to watercolors, since you need to put down lighter colors first.  Lighter colors are hard to make dense and pure when layered on top of dark areas.

And collaborating is always a bit difficult.  I am used to working with my daughters, but I know their skills well, and what they do best.  The challenge here was to assess what each of us could bring to the art and direct it to it's best use.  I think both Jenny and Steve have a new appreciation for how hard it is to complete something of this size so quickly and the challenges of the weather and surface.  I hope the experience didn't scare them off from doing more street painting in the future!