Colored Chalk

Disney, best known for magic, had a particular method of magic in Mary Poppins that has always fascinated me…chalk art…sidewalk art…street art.

In the movie, Mary Poppins and company fall through the art and into a land where carousel horses and their riders dash across pastel countryside and subvert a fox hunt by hiding the fox; where tea is served by dancing penguins; and where having a “perfectly splendid” time is perfectly acceptable.

Think chalk and chalk drawings are only for kids? Think again. While chalk art dates back to pre-historic times (think cave dwellings here), the sidewalk activity dates from 19th Century England. Like Dick Van Dyke’s character, well over 900 folks were making a living drawing on sidewalks in Great Britian in 1890.

Colored chalk is one of those mediums we often dismiss, but there are a fair number of rather well-known chalk adherents, including: De Vinci, Raphael, Micelangelo, Durer, Rembrandt, Rupens, Matisse, Picasso, and Degas. One of the appeals of chalk was that it was relatively cheap and plentiful…a great medium for studies and quick sketches.


Storytelling on the Walk. Most sidewalks, at least those leading to a front door, are split into sections rather than being poured as a solid slab. Ask your kids to illustrate their favorite book by telling the story in drawings, one drawing per section of sidewalk.

The Most Colorful Driveway. 1 or more neighborhood kids (and adults). Pick a nice day and throw a block drawing party (typically combined with a neighborhood potluck and/or cookout and a rousing game of volleyball in the back yard). Divide your driveway into squares an invite your neighbors to add to the drawing. The object is to fill the space, create neighborhood art, and have a good time. I’ve also seen this done as a neighborhood activity where everyone decorated their driveways and walkways. By the way, if you have an asphalt driveway, make sure you have plenty of white chalk to go along with the various colors.

The Game Course. One of my favorite examples of chalk art came from a neighbor in Missouri, who used to go out and draw a version of chutes and ladders or another kids’ game on his driveway every Saturday morning. He made a large die the kids could “roll” out of a cardboard box he covered in white butcher paper and decorated with construction paper cutouts. By the end of the day, the board was scuffed, the box was dented, and the construction paper decorations had faded to a dull, color-tinged gray. The board varied from week to week, as did the die. The kids were their own game pieces, and one child was designated as “die roller.” I have no idea how many games were played during the course of a Saturday, but the “board” was always in use. By the time the neighborhood came to life on Sunday, the board was gone and the neighborhood had to wait a week to find out what was next.

readChalk Drawings: Types, History of Drawing with Chalks.

ART ENCYCLOPEDIA 2016. Bar none–one of the best sites on the internet. If you are interested in art education, this is one of the best places to start. 

Chalk Pastel Tutorials: Lessons & Resources for the Artistically Inclined..Intended for beginning and intermediate artists.

Street Painting and Street Art. Wikipedia.

3 Amazing 3D Graffiti Artists: Street Paining and Sidewalk Chart Art. The Web Urbanist.

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