Lead Artists Jennifer Chaparro working on George Washington on Sunday.
The theme: the 2013 festival in Sarasota was Legacy of Valor - honoring veterans and their service.
The goal: to bring together a team of award winning Florida chalk artists to bring the iconic painting “George Washington Crossing the Delaware” to life on the pavement at this international chalk festival honoring veterans. Team George was born.
We decided we were either going to go big or go home. And we went HUGE - 30’ x 20’!
- 3 main artists – Jennifer Chaparro, Beth Shistle & Janet Tombros (All members of the International Street Painting Society and the Florida Chalk Artists Association)
- 4 assistants – BK Lyons, Glen Caristinos, Lester Mendoza & Craig Thomas
- 2 days - Originally we had 3 days, but the rain severely hampered us and we ended up with about 2 days of work time to complete the massive piece. Thanks to the 4 impromptu assistants who stepped in to help on Sunday afternoon, we all pitched in and made this happen!
This work was all chalk. We used a base of tempera and water for the white, but everything else was chalk on the street. Most of the other art that you see at this size is either paint or a combination of paint and chalk. Chalk is more labor intensive, but the result is much more spectacular.
Here are some links to more photos:
Many new chalk festivals want to have great street art at their events. So they set out to attract great artists, but go about it the wrong way. Event planners need to think of chalk artists/street painters in the same way that they think about any entertainment that they hire to enhance their event. Most events have a budget set aside for entertainment (bands, kids activities, etc.). Very few events can happen successfully without "entertainment." It's what attracts people to your event. Bruno Fabriani signs a t-shirt for a local artist in Curacao.
Once you see street painting as entertainment, it then makes sense to treat the chalk artists just like you would a band. Some events want a lot of featured artists, and others only want 2 or 3. It can work either way, just make sure that the artists you bring in are really good at chalk art, and will be good ambassadors of the art form and actually "entertain" while they are on site chalking. They should provide photos to be used for advertising the upcoming event, and be available for interviews with local press. They can also be brought in a day or two early to lead a street painting workshop for local artists.
There are a couple of ways you can compensate chalk artists. One is to approach the artists, explain what you want and request a quote for their services. The quote should include travel costs, food and art materials. You also need to remember to include any street cleaning, barricades, security, tents, and other items in your costs when figuring out the total costs. Some events will arrange for lodging, since they get special discounts or donated rooms from local hotels in exchange for sponsorship acknowledgement.
Another option is to offer a stipend. A set amount would be given to every artist that is invited, and they can use the money for their travel, lodging, materials, food and whatever else is not covered by the event. This seems like the most "fair" way to do it, but it makes it harder to attract artists from father away, since their travel costs might be too high.
The event should include a light breakfast, coffee and juices, cold water, lunches and snacks each day. Most featured artists will bring their own supplies and chalk. It's also nice when the event has a party or get together on the evening before the event for the artists and sponsors to get together and mingle. When the artists are working during the day, it is tough to have time to talk to everyone, and a pre-party is a great way for everyone to talk in a more relaxed atmosphere.
The event should either arrange the artist's flights or travel and pay for it, or advance money to the artist ahead (half up front is normal), so the artist can purchase their flights. The rest of the amount due should be paid at the end of the event directly to the artist.
What not to do? Don't charge the artists fees to participate or for anything (t-shirts, programs, etc.). Street painting is a physically demanding art form, and the artists take it very seriously. Many started by donating many weekends to the art form. Asking them to "chip in" is like asking a volunteer at an event to pay for parking and a ticket to the event.
The important thing to remember is to treat your artists well if you want to grow your event into a premier art happening. An event that respects and treats the artists as special and talented guests will become known as special event, and you will have your pick of great artists.
Fake blood splattered over finished chalk art.
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.
Internationally acclaimed street painting artist Jennifer Chaparro has announced the creation of the International Street Painting Society Inc. to promote and recognize street painting as a legitimate art form and to serve as a forum for street painting artists worldwide. The new international organization is now accepting members and promoting the work of street artists and street painting festivals throughout the world.
“This is a totally new not-for-profit organization, which will focus on connecting street painters worldwide. There are other local or national organizations, both for chalk artists and general artists, but the International Street Painting Society will focus on street artists, which can include chalk & paint, traditional and 3D art that takes place in a public forum. Our goal is to elevate awareness and educate the public, on an international scale, about street painting as a true art form,” said Jennifer Chaparro, Founder and Executive Director, International Street Painting Society, Inc.
Membership in the International Street Painting Society at present is open to Students, Amateurs, Professional Artists, Art Lovers, Non-Profit Festivals or Organizations, and For Profit Festivals or Companies. Major corporate sponsors are needed to help fund a grants program to help artists with expenses when traveling to events and education and art supply grants that will be available soon. Sign up now and your membership is good until January 2014.
Street Painting is a physically and emotionally challenging art form. Its roots can be traced to the 1500-1600's. In Britain, street artists were known as screevers and their work can be documented to around 1550. “Their subjects were more based on the written word and political lampooning,” said Chaparro. “In Italy in the 1600's, artisans who had finished jobs in the great cathedrals, often took to the plazas in front of the churches, and drew reproductions of the paintings inside. The public would throw coins at the artists as they worked, to show their appreciation. Many of the works were religious in nature, usually of the Madonna and child, thus the name Madonnara became the term used to describe this kind of artist in Italy,” Chaparro added.
The Mission of the International Street Painting Society is to promote and educate the public about the art of street painting internationally as a legitimate art form; to provide opportunities worldwide for street painters/chalk artists to connect, network and share information and prosper as artists; and to connect persons with an interest and passion for street art. If you would like additional information about the International Street Painting Society Inc. you may visit the website www.internationalstreetpaintingsociety.com. The International Street Painting Society is a 501(c)(3).
Jenny Wuerker, Jennifer Chaparro, lead artist, and Steve Heil.
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!
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 it would 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.
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.
Steve and I hold down the plastic, and wait for the rain to stop.
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.
Jenny and I work on the colt and try to figure out the tangle of legs.
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!CLICK HERE to see the video!
"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.
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.ck here to edit.
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".
Here you can see how rough the pavers were in Curacao.
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.
You can see the outline of the large squares of granite in this overhead shot.
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.
And lastly, when you get bored, start chalking your body! In this shot on the right, Mercedes and Carmen start experimenting on themselves in Naples, Florida.
It was pretty hot that day and I think the heat finally got to them!
This is probably the number one question I get as a street painter. What happens to the chalk when it rains? Besides the obvious smart ass response "We get wet" is that it washes away. And here's what happens to the art...
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.
Madonna with child by Italian Renaissance Artist Guido Reni
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.
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!)
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!
Mercedes, age 15
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.
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.