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Drawing Glossary

What is Chalk Art? (3 Tips to Get Started with Chalk Art)

October 31, 2022 by

This is a guide covering everything you need to know about chalk art.

We’ll be covering the following topics (click on a bullet point to jump to that section):

Table of Contents

What is Chalk Art?

Chalk art is drawing visual images with chalk.

Chalk is a white powdery substance that is used for drawing on blackboards or other dark surfaces.

White chalk is made from limestone, while a soft black stone is used to make black chalk.

Moreover, the red chalk is produced using a red ochre or other red earth. Likewise, multicolored chalks are made with a combination of limestone used for white chalk and color pigments.

Nowadays, chalk art is a recognized form of art, and chalk artists use a variety of techniques for chalk drawings.

chalk art
chalk art example

What is the Origin of Chalk Art/Drawings?

While evidence shows that chalk art may be as old as the Stone Age, the street art version of chalk art began in the 16 Century in Italy.

In that era, wandering artists drew drawings of the Madonna to earn money.

They drew these pictures on pavement and were known as Madonnari.

To see work by Madonnari, check out this video by Sam Spade:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YItG4m8-QJw

Chalk street art also appeared in London in the middle of the 1800s. Those artists were labeled screevers, and they usually drew religious messages.

In the 16th and 17th Centuries, artists such as Peter Paul Rubens used red chalk in significant scale landscapes and paintings. However, his pupil, Van Dyck, a portraitist, used white and black chalks. It’s because they worked better in making faces.

Figures such as Michelangelo in history used white chalk to make awe-inspiring sketches. Moreover, Leonardo da Vinci, who also used chalk, was the first to use red chalk.

Chalk Art Tips

When using chalk for chalk art, you need to take care of a few things.

1. Body Protection

If you’re drawing chalk art on pavement or street walls, you should take measures to protect your knees, ankles and skin.

You can wear pads on your knees and ankles, and use gloves when drawing. 

2. Plan

Never plunge into a drawing.

Think beforehand and decide on what to draw.

Just remember, Ben Franklin put it best when he said “if you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.”

You can also use a reference picture use a grid to draw proportionally.

If you’re not sure how the picture will turn out, make a sketch of it on paper with chalk as an experiment to get an idea of how to make it better. 

3. Start in the Middle

For drawing and coloring with chalk, begin in the middle part of the drawing and then proceed to the ends.

It will make the drawing process more straightforward. 

For more chalk art tips, we recommend watching this in-depth video by Graeme Stevenson:

Tools You Need When Performing Chalk Art?

It would be best to have specific tools like canvas or surface, blending material, and cleaning supplies to do chalk art.

1. Surface

While chalk art is commonly associated with chalkboards or blackboards, it works well on other materials.

Cement or concrete is another standard surface for chalk artwork. You can draw with chalk on dry paper, wood, clothes or linen and even cardboards. 

2. Reference Pictures

If you’re new to chalk art, you can use existing artwork as inspiration.

You should print it out and practice with it. 

3. Blending Materials

While you can easily use your fingers for blending, it’s much better to use tools specifically designed for this.

It’s because your fingers can smudge or leave an imprint of the wrong color on your design.

You can use tools like foam brushes, foam sheets, and chalkboard erasers for the big area.

Blending sticks, cotton buds, and toothbrushes can come in handy when adding fine details.

4. Cleaning Supplies

You can use baby wipes to clean off a wrong line in the drawing. They also work well in cleaning chalk color on your hands and face.

You should keep trash bags with you if you’re using cement (road, etc.) as your canvas to clean the environment. 

5. Other Tools

Keep rulers and measuring tape in your supplies for lines, etc. Moreover, it would help if you used a container for storing your chalk.

It’s not a bad idea to keep tape since you can tape the border of your drawings. 

Different Kinds of Chalks Used in Chalk Art?

Different types of chalk can be used for chalk art.

First, there’s regular chalk, and it has subcategories like large or slim chalk. Then, we have chalk pestles, chalk markers, chalk pencils, etc.  

Regular chalks lead to smooth drawing on blackboards and other surfaces, resulting in a powdery and dry drawing. Some artists prefer thick chalk since since it doesn’t break easily like the thin chalk.

In contrast, slim chalk is great for adding highlights and adding details to drawings. You can use also chalk pastels for shading and adding fine details to your chalk art.

different types of chalk
chalks

A chalk marker is another type of chalk.

The ink from the marker flows easily out onto a board or a canvas. You can use it like a pen, and your hands won’t get covered with chalk. Also, it prevents accidental smudging in chalk drawings. 

Similarly, you can use chalk pencils if you’re drawing on paper. Like the chalk marker, it makes lines that are crisp and smudge-free.

In addition, you can use it to add details and highlights to your chalk art. There is even a mechanical chalk pencil

What Kind of Chalk is the Best?

There are many types of chalk brands, and you can choose the one that works for you. For regular thick chalks, Prang Freart chalks are a great choice.

Check out this video by Jen to see this type of chalk in action:

They are soft and come in vibrant colors. If you want more greens and blues, you can try Prang Ambrite.

Brands like Sargent, Chalk City chalk, and Crayola offer great regular chalks. If you’re specifically looking for chalk pastels, you can try Koss – they suggest hard chalk. 

Chalk markers come in different vibrant shades. Likewise, most chalk markers are packed with dual tips so you can switch designs for your artwork.

For example, you can make thick and thin lines with the chiseled, while the bullet tip allows straight and plain lines.

Some brands to look for are Chalk Ink, the Cedar Markers, and Chalkola, etc. 

Artists Who Used Chalks

While some people pursue chalk art as a career, others dabble in it as a hobby.

Nowadays, we have many great chalk artists like Kurt Wenner from Michigan. He is famous for making 3D chalk art, and his latest 3D art, the Lost World, is mind-blowingly real.

Check out this video by Jim Sey that showcases some of Kurt Wenner’s work:

His Neptune’s Chariot in Hong Kong Disneyland and Dies Irae in Mantua, Italy, is also famous. 

Similarly, Julain Beever makes chalk art that makes it seem like the images are three-dimensional when viewed from the right point. Meeting Mr. Frog, Arctic Street Conditions with Soft Drink and This Make Poverty History are his chalk drawings.

Other great chalk artists are Edgar Degas with his chalk pastels and Rajiv Surendra, etc. 

Final Remarks

Before getting into chalk, you need to choose chalk that works for you and other tools like baby wipes, etc. There are many brands for regular chalk, pencil chalk, marker chalk, etc., that you can choose for your chalk art.

The chalk art tips will help you make chalk drawings more easily, and you can keep your skin safe with safety pads.

Chalk is an old tool, and many historical figures have used it for different reasons.