Chalk Festival


I’d like to write down my experiences with the Victoria Chalk Festival while they are still fresh, to share my thoughts & pictures and what I learned and hopefully inspire some more artists to try it out next year. I had never done a sidewalk chalk drawing and hadn’t done anything with this type of medium in almost 20 years. I’ve looked at lots of amazing works online and seen Ian Morris’ work downtown for years, this type of art has always appealed to me. I found out about the Chalk Fest through facebook, via the I heart Victoria fb group I think.

I had a couple of weeks to prepare and wasn’t really sure what to do, but thought it would be fun to try something 3d. Since this was already so far out of my comfort zone I thought it would be good to do something somewhat familiar and came up with the design of one of my characters, Shishkeblob, in a pit. I did a colour test in pencil crayons because that was a lot closer to chalk than digital painting, which is what I’ve mostly done over the past decade.

shishkeblob line art

shishkeblob pencil crayon test

The local artists had a chance to meet some of the visiting pros and get some tips and pointers in a workshop headed by Lori Escalera. It was a wonderful chance to run some ideas by them and to hear their stories and experiences. Also got to meet Kenji, Gabrielle, and Melanie, some of the other participating artists. After talking with Tracy and Lori, I came up with a much better plan for making my anamorphic projection grid.

workshop by Lori

anamorphic projection

On the day of the festival I made it downtown around 8′ish and started work around 9′ish. It was a lot more physical then I had thought it would be but I also wasn’t sore where I thought I’d be. I thought my back would be feeling it the most whereas it was mostly my thighs. I am going to do a lot of squats and stepups to prepare for next time.

After a few hours I had my outline and basic colours roughed in.

colours blocked in

I worked until about 6pm on the Saturday and then on Sunday I started around 10 and worked until 2′ish. With breaks the whole chalk part of it took about 12 hours. I had to change the original design to fit the medium. The texture of the road was extremely bumpy so all the of the line work detail, like in the rebar, couldn’t be added. Instead I used the texture to indicate detail which was mostly successful. I found it interesting that the image looked more 3d in a camera viewfinder then with the naked eye and many other people commented on this too. I can’t speak as to why this is the case and have to do some research of my own!

It was great hearing all of the different ideas that people came up with to explain what Shish was: a dragon, ghost, cake monster, jello monster, pokemon, candle monster and so many more. I realize I was out of my depth working along side of these pros who had been doing this for decades but after it was all done I feel I put in a respectable effort and didn’t make a mess of it all. I even heard quite a few kids screech ‘this is my favourite!’ which works for me, I like the kid vote.

I’d be happy to try this again and will even try and practice over the course of the next year. Thanks so much to John Vickers for his continuing effort in beautifying Victoria and closing Government Street. Alll of the volunteers and staff, Mary & Dani, so many others. Lori, Jeanie & Cathy for all their great tips, suggestions and support! Artigiano’s for fueling us with bean juice. Everyone who came down to say hi, all my friends and family, plus all the wonderful people I got to meet. Thanks Aaron for supper!

To any artist thinking about doing this, give it a whirl! My comfort zone is on the couch with a sketchbook, pen & pencil and totally clean environment, switching between monitors, scanner, tablet and light tables. Working outside on the dreadfully bumpy surface with a dusty, colourful medium in the public couldn’t be farther away from my safe harbour but I still gave it a shot. A lot of artists I know do en plain air and work in charcoal or conte, so this isn’t as far removed from what you do as you think. Hope to see more of Victoria’s amazing stable of artists out next time!

finished chalk drawing