Saturday, June 18, 2016

2016 Pasadena Chalk Festival - Day 1

It's the 24th Annual Pasadena Chalk Festival and after winning "Best New Artists" in 2015 we knew we had to return.

Registration opened back in March/April, and because we were returning artists, it was free! We received our confirmation shortly after that and knew it was time to start practicing.
We got together twice before the event to work on it. First to try to refine our technique. Yes, Ian is working on something in the background. 

Trying a black tempura base and white chalk on the top.

Attempt #1. We seem to be missing a giant.

A month later we try again. Nothing too huge. Probably only 4 feet tall, but we were able to knock it out in a few hours.

I think we're ready to do this for real!

The Thursday before the event was the Artist VIP night. Dinner was provided and it was a chance for everyone to socialize before the big weekend.

Making sure you only get ONE cookie.

Thursday is also the first day you can pick the spot you'll do your mural. Our spot from last year was taken, but Ruston was able to get us a good spot in the main section.

Saturday morning and the day of the big event is finally here! Checking in around 8:30am.

Receiving our Artist t-shirts, event badges, a couple boxes of chalk, and some bottles of water. It's going to be a hot one!

Very nice of them to provide breakfast for us.

Other artists are hard at work getting the outlines sketched out.

Surveying our piece of pavement.

Last year we had the most frustrating time getting our chalk to actually stick to the pavement. It really caused us problems with how we were transferring the design. But we learned a really good trick last year that we were going to employ again this year. Instead of working directly on the concrete, we're putting down a base of tempura. Many other artists are doing the same thing. There's the classic paint brush technique, an extension pole and a paint roller, and I even saw one guy with a trowel. I asked him about it and he said he laid floors for years and this was the most natural for him.

Well now we know a few more techniques for next year, but today we're doing it all with these sponge brushes. Luckily it didn't take too long to cover the 7'x5' area.

I printed our image only really large poster paper, and to transfer the pattern to the pavement we colored the back with black chalk, effectively making carbon paper.

This is where the wheels fell off last year. After using this same method directly on the pavement, the lines were nearly invisible. With the white tempura base though, this method worked fantastically! We've got a perfect transfer!

Ruston examining the detailed section where the Giant is holding Hogarth Hughes.

And then tracing it out.

Next it was time to start filling in the details. It's great seeing people you know! My co-worker Jeff and his son stopped by to see how we were doing.

Ruston working the lettering on the top, while I start on the giant. I want to get these colors super saturated so the whole thing pops.

Work went really quick and we were feeling really good.

Ruston putting the final touches on the giant's eyes.

Really good progress so far. That Hogarth Hughes detail in the giant's hand was where we decided to stop before lunch. Maybe we'll just have him holding a crystal ball.

Let's eat! Well maybe we'll stop by the bathroom first and wash our hands.

Checking in back home, Ian is doing his own art on the driveway. Cool buddy!

After lunch we looked around the festival a little more before starting up again. It's the hottest part of the day and we could use any excuse to delay starting up again. Let's check out the canvas auction.

Every artist is strongly encouraged to submit a canvas for auction. All proceeds go to the Lightbringer Project.

Ruston's contribution.

And it's already got a bid for $35!

This one really impressed me. The detail on the knit hat was incredible. Ruston said he saw bidding on this one hit $300! I wonder what the top bid was.

A few of the other impressive paintings.

Not quite a painting, but still impressive.

This year Shuji Nishimura is paying tribute to David Bowie. And speaking of Shuji...

He's doing the same thing in chalk and it looks incredible. So photo-realistic.

We asked this team for some tips on putting colors down right next to each other without smudging them.

Our old spot. I hope the artist who got it had better luck working on the concrete than we did last year. She was doing a 3D Spock.

Time to get back to work. Finishing the sunset

Ruston finishing Hogarth. Looks great!

And Ruston putting the finishing touches on the moon craters.

Success! We completed it, and in only 1 day!

After having people walk all over our mural last year, this year we came prepared.

Big noticeable cones and extra tape provided a keep-out barrier to people overnight.

Great job Ruston! We're a really good team!

It's really fun standing back and watching people admire your work.

Tomorrow is Father's Day and the 2nd day of the festival. Thankfully we're finished, so we can spend the day checking out how everyone else is coming along.

How about a time-lapse video of the day? The heat must have gotten to my batteries, because they didn't go nearly as long as I expected, so the last part of the video are more of the photos you see above.


  1. Looks awesome! Glad nobody was walking all over it like last year. Did you see the veteran guy from last year who got mad about your technique?

    1. I'm glad no-one walked all over it too. I was not looking forward to having to fix anything on Sunday.
      The guy from last year who didn't like our tracing was nowhere to be seen this year. Actually the artist attendance felt a little light this year. Next year though should be big. It's the 25th anniversary of the event. I'm told that they're going to try to set a Guinness World Record.

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