Archive for People of the Chalk

The Music Box

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.


Colorado Chalk Artists at Crested Butte

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.


Just a Pesky Dandelion Chalk Art Piece

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!

dandelion-web pesky dandelion-web

Chalk Art Event – Parker Days

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.

sample of safe illusion-web

safe in reverse-web






The People of the Chalk

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.”


Chalk Art Project Captured in Time Lapse Animation

On September 25 and 26, Cherish and Benjamin took a road trip down to Flagstaff, Arizona, where they were invited by Northern Arizona University to create a 3-D chalk art of the school’s mascot, Louie the Lumberjack.

While working and enjoying the company of many young college students, a young man by the name of Conner decided to capture the whole thing in time lapse. Upon finishing, he coupled it with appropriate music and has shared it to the world through the power of YouTube. For those of you who have not yet had the privilege of watch our chalk art events, or if you enjoy watching it all over again (at awesome speeds) please enjoy the following video.

Many thanks to Conner, NAU and everybody in Flagstaff who made us feel welcome. The following video was taken over a span of two days.



3D Chalk Art, Colorado State University, Pueblo

Cherish and I were invited this past Monday and Tuesday to put together a 3D chalk art for the students of Colorado State University, Pueblo to commemorate the arrival of the Fall Semester. Our chalk art piece was to be the centerpiece of several other activities going on with this event.


We were approached to make a chalk art piece that somehow incorporated both the school mascot (Thunderwolves) and three dimensional illusion. After googling how to grid properly so that the perspective ends up being correct (very tedious and mathy and left brainy stuff), this was the final result we gave the school. The students, faculty and staff raved over the finished product.