The Music Box

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The Music Box 3D Chalk Art Piece, Denver Chalk Art Festival, 2014. This piece is a personal piece. The Denver Chalk Art Festival is a great place for me to have a chance to explore the creative boundaries of my art. While we are sponsored graciously by Sola Salons at this event, they have always been very good at letting us loose artistically. Most events have a theme and we enjoy working with clients in coming up with a design that coordinates with that theme. But because this event is open and because we have three days to work on it, it is at the Denver Chalk Art Festival where I try out my craziest ideas.

I came up with the music box piece a long time ago. It actually had been sitting in sketch form for about three years, waiting for just the right opportunity. There were several new challenges with this piece that I had never attempted on a previous chalk art piece. The first is that the piece is extremely geometric. Creating irregular broken holes in the earth in 3D is pretty easy. For the most part you can kind of fudge it, after all, it’s organic, right? But when you have something that is architecturally geometric, there’s no hiding perspective errors. You have to make sure you have the vanishing point, measuring point, shadow vanishing point, all in the precise location based upon standing position, or else the whole thing gets distorted.

That was my first challenge. The second was the figures on top. I wanted to create porcelain figures, fairly realistically, in the illusion, as if they are standing upright. This is not easy. You can’t just draw a figure and then flair it in perspective. I mean, you could, I suppose, but it wouldn’t look exactly correct. I constructed the figure out of boxes first, boxes in proper perspective based upon vanishing and viewing points. Then WITHIN the boxes, I drew the figures, distorting them as the boxes distorted toward the vanishing point. I had to remember that the figures were only going to appear to be three feet high, that meant having to draw the figures as if the viewer was looking DOWN at them. I had to do all of this, WHILE remembering to render the figures as if they were porcelain.

DCF-working on faces At the festival, I worked on the figures on the second day. At the end of the second day, the figures look absolutely amazing. Unfortunately, the next morning, the figures were blurred and smeared as the chalk had become the victim of cyclists and the wind. I’ll redo them after I finish the box, I told myself. By the time I finished the box, the festival was nearing a close. I had to leave the figures dulled down, but it still turned out to be one of my most favorite pieces.

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Colorado Chalk Artists at Crested Butte

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Denver area chalk artists hired to be the highlight of the Crested Butte Wine and Food Festival, 2013. We were honored to be a part of the event. It was a whirlwind day. The town of Crested Butte is located at 10,000 feet in altitude. The event was in the middle of July, during the height of their wild flower season. We were put under a covered pavilion and while Denver was sweltering in the upper 90s, the day of the event was rainy and cold.

We only had a few hours to pull off this grand illusion. We labored non stop for six hours and finally got it finished near the end of the event. It was an instant hit, drawing in crowds of people who couldn’t wait to get their photo op.

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Just a Pesky Dandelion Chalk Art Piece

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A dandelion chalk art illusion from a basic class demo turns out pretty awesome. Last Wednesday I conducted a one day seminar on the process of chalk art for a number of high schoolers. We had a great time under the sun and after giving them a brief history of chalk art and teaching them certain techniques, I let them loose on their own creations. Of course, I had to work on my own creation while they were working, so that they could see how I work and the dandelion was the result.

What’s unique about this piece is that usually when I create a chalk art illusion, I am very particular with making sure the reverse perspective grid is precise and correct, based upon standing position, height, etc. I pre grid my work and I usually show up with a very detailed schematic that I illustrate ahead of time, by which to follow. In this particular case, I had not intended to do my own thing, so I had no photo reference, no illustrated schematic, no grid.

However, having done several of these now, I know the general shape of the flared grid, so as I freehanded my dandelion, I kept that in mind. I also established the light source, figuring out where the sun would be in four hours and made that the “light source”. I separated the shadow areas from the light areas and started working in the color. I had some of the students help fill in local color for me and I went on top with final details. In the end, what started out as play, turned into a fabulous illusion!

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Chalk Art Event – Parker Days

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We were invited to the Parker Days chalk art event in 2013. It was a very short event, with only four hours to pull off our piece. I had always had this crazy idea of doing something with baseball in my chalk art. Still exploring what I could do with 3D chalk art illusions, and knowing how little time I had, I decided a single character in 3D would be my best bet. This was the final solution.

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The People of the Chalk

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Welcome to the inaugural blog of the “People of the Chalk.” This is the place of honest, fun, and raw accounts of the adventures of myself (Benjamin) and Cherish as we tour the world doing our chalk art.

For the longest time, I struggled with defining myself as an artist and an illustrator. There are so many techniques and styles. I tried most of them in my exploration, not really able to set on any one in particular. I love cartooning, but I also love landscapes. I enjoy caricature as much as I enjoy children’s books.

But it seems that while I was exploring my artistic expression, chalk art found me. I was fascinated with the medium the first time exposed to it in 2003. I love the ephemeral nature of the medium, I love being under the sun, enduring the elements, and of course, with my background in theatre and puppetry, I loved the performance aspect. In 2004, my first chalk art piece was an absolute disaster. I did not know what I was doing or how the chalks would respond to the pavement. Now, ten years later, I think I’ve figured a few things out.

It seems as if I have a knack for the medium. Soon I started winning awards, and when I started to get paid to travel and do the chalk art, it really dawned on me that I finally found something that I could really make my own. In 2010, I started to explore how to add the illusionary aspect to the chalk art. This, too, was a process of trial and error before I finally figured out the correct math.

Much like the fleeting nature of the chalk art, I realize it is a metaphor for my own life. I realize that street art is a youth movement for a reason. As the shadows of age creep upon me, juxtaposed with my own health conditions, each new event becomes increasingly more difficult to perform. My health leaves me in pain most days. Creating chalk art on the hard streets in the brutal sun (or the freezing snow!) is a physical challenge. I battle through for the love of the medium, cognizant that I am racing against time. Many festivals I have had to leave my working space, doubled over in pain that will grip me for up to two to three hours! Once I was hospitalized. Working in chalk art is brutal. Yet, it is what I love to do and it is what I have become known for doing.

When my high school guidance councilor asked me to describe what I wanted to do when I grew up, it never dawned on me to mention travel the world and draw on other people’s streets. Yet, that’s what ended up happening. And with Cherish in tow, it is wonderful–a blessing–and we are happy to share our journeys with you. Us, the “People of the Chalk.”

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Sailboats – Work in Progress

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This is an unfinished piece that I am currently working on. I started it in late January, mixed all my colors and was ready to dig right in.

But then life happened and I experienced a loss I had never known before when my father passed away February 2. My world was rocked and the painting remained unpainted as my colors began to dry on my pallet.

When I was finally ready to get back into it, most of my acrylics were on the verge of drying out. I scraped and squeezed whatever remaining wet pigment I could get from them before they finally dried out on me. The underlying color structure has been set, but I still need to push and pull more values into the piece to make it stronger, crisper image. As soon as I am able, I’ll crack open the acrylic tubes once more and finish this piece in dedication to the man who encouraged me to chase after my dreams.

 

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Easter Card Designs

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10-pack Easter Greeting Card Designs

More than just bunnies and candy, Easter is such an important holiday. While we celebrate a birth on Christmas, Easter we celebrate a rebirth, the Resurrection of the Savior who bore the curse of death upon Himself. Because of this, we are given a new life, a life of freedom, of peace, of joy. A life eternal is waiting for all who simply receive the free gift.

What a reason to celebrate! We have been approached by many over the years who have asked us if we had a line of Easter card designs that they can send as an encouragement to their friends and family. We went to work right away and are happy to roll out four designs this year.

Easter cards are sold in ten packs and delivered in nice clear boxes. Please contact us for any special requests or orders. May you be richly blessed this Easter season. Special pricing for orders placed before March 22.

Painted Wedding Portraits

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A painted wedding portrait is a perfect gift to give this summer, as the wedding season heats up. It’s timeless, unique, and sure beats the other 50 coffee makers they will inevitably get. Between our different unique styles, and depending on your budget, we can craft a perfect portrait for that perfect couple.

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New ModNarrative illustration style... as a portrait!

“Safe!” New Art by Benjamin Hummel

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He’s reaching to steal second. The pitch is low and inside, which most pitches tend to be at this level. The batter was told to swing regardless, to distract the catcher, while the runner on first waits for the sign from his coach… who happens to also be his dad.

“He’s scratching his nose. Does that mean it’s time? I forget what scratching of the nose was supposed to mean,” are the thoughts of number 4, but in the end he decides he can’t sit and think about it, and he takes off. Barely touching the bag and sliding low to avoid the tag, he makes it in safely to second.

The number on the kid’s shirt is 4. This is not accidental. Who can be the first to tell us the significance of the number 4 on his shirt?


“Safe!” Original Colored Pencil on Paper
$100.00

Landscape to Paint: Colorado’s Hill Country

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In today’s edition of New Art!, I’m always impressed with some of the spectacular scenery the state of Colorado has to offer, from the flat Eastern plains to the sharp cliffs of Ouray and Telluride. In the middle of teaching a landscape painting class, I painted this piece as a class demo from a photo we took on one of our Rocky Mountain excursions. If you are ever looking for a landscape to paint, Colorado is a great place to start.

Enter our contest!

This photo was taken from a very specific town in Colorado. Perhaps you may recognize it. The first person to guess the name of the town either here or on our Facebook page will win a box of Colorado Landscapes cards.

 

 

“Colorado’s Hill Country” oil on canvas
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