For several years I have been teaching the art of street painting to children and young teens at summer classes for the George F. Johnson Library in Upstate New York. If they are working from an existing photograph or drawing, I show them how to grid their reference image and match it to a larger grid on the pavement in order to keep proportions consistent. I demonstrate the proper use of color, from applying the lightest chalk tones first to the darkest colors as they complete the piece, always putting black down last. We work on blending the chalk, the use of lighting to create form and shadows, and special techniques to deal with the rough sidewalk surface.
But most of all we simply try to have some fun out in the summer sun, and judging by the photos I get a lot of them really show some amazing ability. Maybe playing with chalk on a sidewalk is something that is ingrained into kids DNA, but the way they quickly take to the art form always surprises me. Of course, I also teach them not to get too attached to their art, as one class so far has been ended prematurely by a sudden shower. They stayed positive and enthusiastic even as their artwork was smeared away.
Before each class I spend some time creating a sidewalk chalk drawing of my own, so when the kids arrive they already have a demonstration of what can be done with the same simple materials they are going to use. Often I take this opportunity to create quick 2-3 hour mini-murals of comic book images I enjoy but never get to reproduce in a convention setting.
Over the next few posts I will show some of these library chalk art classes starting with one from all the way back in 2007. I based my demonstration mural on a Scottie Young drawing of Robin from the Teen Titans. The piece stood about 6 feet tall, was just over 2 feet wide and took about 2 and a half hours to complete.