To me, one of the most rewarding things about being a parent is getting to re-experience childhood as I watch my son grow, learn and explore. As an artist, this has of course meant re-exploring art mediums that most of us seem to leave behind when we “grow up.” There’s some sort of stigma behind art supplies that are sold in the toy aisle, as though art made by adults can only be made with refined or expensive supplies.
But maybe just maybe – sometimes – art can be just for fun. What if – sometimes – art is just play.
For one thing, playing with creative toys is, you know, fun and it’s therapeutic, too. I really do believe that most adults would be less stressed out if they spent an hour with a coloring book or a tub of Play-doh a couple times a week.
“Art as Play” opens up new avenues for exploration and freedom for those of us who do art either as a job or a serious hobby – removing the requirements for quality or meaning or even just pushing our abilities can be liberating and “Art as Play” can be a powerful tool to break through a “Creative Block.” Ephemeral and impermanent art like the kind you can make with Play-doh or Sidewalk Chalk forces us to give up a little bit of control.
And, you know… it’s fun, too.
Naturally, this was on my mind this past weekend. So today I thought it would be fun to talk about some of the Sidewalk Chalk Tips & Tricks that I discovered. Whether you’re a parent who can get a little extra stress-relief out of playtime or a grown-up with a creative job who needs to unwind, here are some fun ways to experiment with Sidewalk Chalk.
Sidewalk Chalk: Tips and Tricks
I’m a huge fan of Crayola. This box of 52 sticks was only $5, which is pretty cheap as far as art supplies go. 24 colors means you also get grey and ochre and turquoise and brown – not just the basic boring pastels.
Some other helpful supplies:
- A pad or cushion to kneel/sit on will keep your poor achin’ grown-up knees from hurting.
- Making a sketch with a simple grid will help you plan out a larger drawing.
- A dry brush can be used for blending colors.
- Sidewalk chalk can be dipped into water to change it’s texture.
- Chalk Pastels can be used for outlines and highlights.
I used a big thick Bob Ross paint brush (the handle says it’s a foliage brush) on dry chalk to blend colors and get a more subtle gradient of color. I used this technique a lot on Saturday to help get a “painterly” feel to my drawing.
I also used wet chalk to achieve different textures and more concentrated areas of color. To get this look, dip a piece of chalk into water for several seconds. The color will darken and the texture of the chalk as it goes down on the sidewalk will seem smoother, more like paint.
You can see the difference in the photo above. The light aqua and deeper turquoise were the same color chalk before being dipped. As the chalk dries, the color will lighten to it’s “dry” color (see below) but the coverage is thicker which still gives it a difference appearance.
We were given Chalk Pastels to use on Saturday, and at first I didn’t think I’d use them. When I was adding the final touches to my drawing, I realized that they gave a more concentrated pop of color than the Sidewalk Chalk did, and I could use them to get more intense hues. The black outlines and pops of red and orange in my drawing were all thanks to Chalk Pastels – I also found that they blended well (I used my fingertips) on top of both wet and dry chalk.
One more fun thing to try: drawing with sidewalk chalk on black construction paper. Jonah and a neighbor made these drawings yesterday with wet sidewalk chalk on the paper – great for a rainy day activity with kids, or for a more permanent drawing. (Spray them with fixative or hair spray afterward to keep the chalk from coming off of the paper.) The sidewalk chalk colors show up especially bright on the black paper.
I hope you’ll enjoy these Tips and Tricks and put them to use sometime this summer. Don’t forget to experiment and HAVE FUN!