Monday, March 18, 2013

What's worse - being ignored or being attacked?

As a street painter, we learn quickly to adapt to changing conditions (weather, surface, materials, etc.).  We understand that those are things that make every experience different.  But there are other conditions that we deal with that have to do with human behavior.

Here is a link to a video interview with a local TV station about the damage a local group did to my chalk art at the Lake Worth Street Painting Festival in 2013.  The group, which I will not name, did not like the subject matter in the art, which was chosen by the state of Florida for the Viva Florida 500 poster. 

I was heckled, and then when I was done and took a break, they made noise, threw flyers around and then splattered the art with fake blood.  When the local deputy on duty was notified of this, they said the art was "worthless" and it was a public street, so nothing could be done. 

Really.  Worthless?  It was bad enough to have someone ignore the 2 1/2 days of work I voluntarily donated to the event, and the beauty of the art, but then to have the sheriff act as judge and jury and pass judgement, was heartbreaking.

Hopefully, we can educate the public about street painting as an art form.

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!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sidewalk Chalking is Now A Crime???

My daughter, Carmen, chalking at the Lake Worth Street Painting Festival in 2004.
According to an HOA in a Colorado neighborhood, drawing with sidewalk chalk is against the rules.  Read story here.  Three year old Sarah Cohen got in trouble for decorating the "common area" sidewalk with chalk.  The HOA claims that because it's a common area, it is off limits.  Well I say, CHALK ON, GIRLFRIEND!

Don't we all have more important things to worry about?  As a past board member of an HOA, I know firsthand how idiotic neighbors can get.  In our neighborhood, we had a neighbor complain about a kid's lemonade stand, for pete's sake!  Read story here.  They claimed that they were running a business, which is against the rules within our gated community.  Thankfully, our HOA quickly wrote an addendum to the rules, specifically saying that it was OK.  Colorado, are you listening? 

As a professional street painter and chalk artist for Amazing Street Painting, this story hits home.  If it wasn't for chalk art/street painting, I wouldn't be able to travel the world chalking amazing art.

Chalking at Downtown Disney, November 2011.

Any attempt to squash a child's artistic creativity should be discouraged.  As director of the International Street Painting Society, my goal is to get chalk into as many kids' hands as possible, all over the world.  CHALK ON!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The surface is always changing...

"What is the surface that I will be chalking on today?"  It seems like a fairly simple and minor question, but to a street painter, it is very important.  I have been chalking for years, and have completed many street paintings.  I enjoy the challenge that each new piece of art and each new surface presents.  It's part of what keeps it fresh and different.

Sometimes the surface is rough asphalt.  A common practice in Florida is to mix in pieces of shell, which makes it even harder to chalk on, since the chalk doesn't like to stick to shell or large chunks of rock.
This is a typical asphalt road in Florida with shells mixed in.
And sometimes it is just bumpy.  Sealing it (albeit temporarily) with a wash of tempera & water, helps the chalk stick.  It makes the colors brighter, also.

This was one of the roughest, bumpiest surfaces I have chalked on.  The picture was taken at the end of the day, and you can see how the low sun shows all the bumps in shadow.

Smooth concrete is nice to work on, but it to can present some challenges too.  It can have a sharp "tooth" to it, that can rip your fingers or gloves to shreds.  Usually, it is a better canvas because it is white or light gray, so you don't have to put down the tempera paint as a base.  Occasionally it can be too smooth, which the paint would then be needed.
And sometimes you end up with a line or crack right down the middle of your art.  The best thing to do with this is either make it part of the art, or try to fill it with chalk so it "disappears".
Bricks or paver bricks are a challenge because of all the cracks that have to be filled with chalk.  When I worked on the pavers in Curacao, I broke a lot of sticks of chalk, trying to get it to cover.  The other problem with pavers, is that many times they will be different colors.  This may be pleasing to look at, but it can be a bear to work on.  The bricks are fabricated of different substances and they all take the chalk a bit differently, so you have to constantly adjust the pressure and amount of chalk applied. One thing to remember is the more porous the surface, the more chalk you will use.
Here you can see how rough the pavers were in Curacao.
The other end of the spectrum is a super smooth surface, like a polished granite or marble.  Even unfinished granite can be very difficult to work on.  Chalk just does not like to stick to it, and the tempera base is almost imperative.  The large pavers in Ireland were granite (below), and we were glad that we had brought paint to prime the area first.
You can see the outline of the large squares of granite in this overhead shot.
And lastly, when you get bored, start chalking your body!
Mercedes and Carmen start experimenting on themselves in Naples, Florida.  I think the heat got to them.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

How Did I Get Started Street Painting?

 This was my first attempt at street painting in 2005 at the Lake Worth Street Painting Festival.  

 I have a degree in Design from UCLA, and many years of painting and drawing experience, but this was something I was not familiar with.  The medium, soft pastels, and the huge scale, were totally new to me.

My older daughter, Mercedes, and I thought it would be fun to try.  We had been the to see the festival the previous two years, and kept saying to ourselves, "We could do that".  So we did!

Unfortunately, these pictures aren't very good.  For some reason the color is a bit off.  It wasn't large, I think we started with the smallest size (4' x 6').   We were hooked, especially me.  The next year we were put in the featured artists section on Lucerne Ave., away from the craziness on Lake Blvd., and have participated each year since.

Mercedes, age 15, hard at work.

Carmen, age 9, shows off her first street painting.
And Carmen, my younger daughter, wanted to join in so badly.  I set her up next to us on a blank area of asphalt, gave her some chalk, and let her go.  Little did I know how amazing an artist she would turn out to be.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Students Get Creative in Curacao at Third Annual Chalk Festival

The third annual "Colors of Willemstad" took place last weekend in Curacao.  I did three workshops with the teenagers both in Curacao and also in Bonaire (the next island over).  I wish I had more time with them, as they were very interested in how to do 3D paintings.

Craig Thomas and I quickly did this 3D apple to show the kids how to grid out and fill in the art.
The kids jumped in to draw their own picture and try their hand at creating a 3D apple.
Some of the kids at the workshop in Bonaire.
And my art, which I started on Friday.  The art was 5 meters by 6 meters.  I put down the tempera paint and then sketched out the art.
It was pretty dry during the week, so we didn't need to cover the art at night.  I chalked all day Saturday and Sunday, and got some help from my friend, Marieke.  Here is her work - very creative!
And this is my finished work - 5 meters x 6 meters - one of my largest.
Here is one of the student team's art - one of the three winners!  They were my students last year and they did a very detailed piece - great job!
This is another piece by one of the students from this year's workshop - also a winner!
Check out the new video: 

Friday, March 2, 2012

18th Annual Lake Worth Street Painting Festival

The forecast was not good.  Rain, wind, and thunderstorms.  Gloomy weather was with us all weekend, but we made it through.  It was windy all weekend, and we had a short period of showers from 9 - 10 am on Saturday morning.  We were all raring to go, and it was hard to stand around and wait.  Most of us had plastic to cover, and the rain was light enough that we were able to uncover and start working fairly quickly.

Plastic and folding chairs save the day.

End of day on Saturday.

My piece, an original composition of a three headed dragon coming up out of a hole in the ground, was my largest piece yet at this event (10' x 20').  It was also a first for a 3D piece for me at this event.  I usually do much more traditional work.
View from the opposite direction.
Carmen working on Sunday.

Carmen was able to participate this year, at the last minute.  She choose to do a Bouguereau on an area that was about 6' x 8'.  She didn't finish, but it was beautiful none the less, and was a big crowd pleaser.  

Cheryl and Wayne Renshaw brought a three headed dragon puppet, which looks like lunch in this photo.

I actually finished earlier than I thought I would.  I was worried I couldn't finish it by myself, but I was done by about 2pm on Sunday (total of 16 hours work).
The crowds were often lined up to take pictures and view the art from the "sweet spot".  I often heard comments from the crowd that this art would make an awesome tattoo and that I should be a tattoo artist.  Maybe someday - you never know.  If you had told me I would be chalking the streets at age 50 for a living when I was 20, I would have thought you were nuts.

Here is the video - Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Art) by Craig Houdeshell:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

What Happens When It Rains?

Probably the number one question I get as a street painter.  Besides the obvious smart ass response "We get wet" is that it washes away.  And here's what happens to the art...
Washed out Madonna

After one night of rain, a days work is almost completely washed away.  This piece was 4' x 6' on concrete, and took about 6 hours to complete at the Italian Family Festa.  The original was intense with color and contrast, the results of layers of chalk.  But a wicked storm blew through Tallahassee in the middle of the night on Saturday and did a lot of damage.  There was a tent over the work, but it didn't help much. 

The day began rather dewy and damp, and it took awhile to get the layer of tempera paint to dry enough so I could start chalking.  It was so damp, I couldn't get the duct tape to stick for the border.  But we were lucky to have a relatively rain free day.

Here is the finished piece on Saturday. 
Madonna with child by Italian Renaissance Artist Guido Reni

There is no way to preserve or seal chalk on the street or sidewalk without changing the art.  It is what makes the art special.  It is but a fleeting flash of brilliance and beauty, like a colorful sunset or listening to a concert.  Enjoy the moment!  (Then take a picture and share it with all your friends on Facebook!)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sarasota Video Interview

I was so excited to come across a video the other day on YouTube.  It was an interview that I had done at the Sarasota International Chalk Festival in 2010 with Don Guy.  He shot the raw footage and gave it to his students to edit.  Then, as I was just cruising through some videos, I noticed one pop up on the right in the suggested column.  This one is by Jessica Ungenheuer.  It had been posted about a month and a half earlier, but I came across it in early February 2012.  Click here to see the video.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Double Winner at Disney!!

I was very excited to win two awards at the Florida Chalk Artists Association event (Disney Festival of the Masters held every fall at Downtown Disney)!  I was surprised to win "Artist's Choice" from all my peers in the FCAA.  Plus I won the "Best Reproduction of an American Master".  My art was by Rick Timmons.  I found his website on the internet, and really wanted to do an animal picture, and he does a lot of horses.  Of all his works, I like this one best, and it worked well for the 7' x 7' square size we had to work with.  Because it was a 2 1/2 day event, I wanted to make sure I picked something with a lot of detail, and this one had it!

I also received my Maestre Certification from the FCAA. This took about 3 years for me to accomplish.  It requires that you participate as a solo artist in at least 15 events, win an award at Disney, win an award with 50+ artists, plus leading a workshop and also writing about street painting.

Many of my friends in the group won awards, also (Betty Dominguez, Jamie Schwerstein, Carolyn Shultz, among others).  Go to the FCAA website to see pictures of most of the winners.  The high school teams impress me every year, too!  Lots of talent!

Thanks, Minnie!