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Art Education Studio at Home

Kohl’s Art Generation Studio at Home: Chalk the State

JULY 25–26, 2020

This weekend, take to your sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots to create bright, joyful chalk art! We’re joining with the Museum of Wisconsin Art (MOWA) and many other arts organizations throughout the state to encourage a weekend of outdoor art making. Spread positive messages to family, friends, and neighbors—or create your own masterpiece, inspired by works in the Museum’s collection!

Many famous artists have used chalk to make both sketches and finished works of art. To create the drawing below, Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) used pastels. Pastels are made from pigment, or color, and chalk; the two are blended and held together with a binder. Picasso’s pastel drawing of a rooster shows many of the special things you can do with this material. Use sidewalk chalk to make a drawing outdoors. Save pastels for drawing on paper!

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), Rooster, 1938. Pastel on paper
sheet: 30 1/4 × 22 3/8 in. (76.84 × 56.83 cm), framed: 37 1/2 × 29 1/2 × 1 3/4 in. (95.25 × 74.93 × 4.45 cm). Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley M1959.373. Photographer credit: Larry Sanders ©2010 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Here are some tips and tricks for working with chalk and pastels:

Blend colors. Picasso used pink and blue pastels to make purple on the comb, or crest, on the head of the rooster. Blend two or more colors of chalk to see what other colors you can make. Start by layering the colors (color one on top of the other), and then rub them together with your fingers or a washcloth. Hint: Try mixing two primary colors (red, yellow, and blue) to make a secondary color. For example: Red + yellow = orange.

Erase. Do you see the black and off-white squiggly lines throughout the body of the rooster, where Picasso erased parts of his drawing? Chalk is easy to remove. Don’t be afraid to experiment! You can always brush, rub, or carefully wash away parts of your own drawing. Then, add more lines and colors over the places where you erased.

Vary line weight and pressure. Line weight is how thick or thin a line is. Try drawing with the side of your chalk. This will create large patches of color and very thick lines. Use the tip of your chalk (the sharp point) to create thin lines. If you press down really hard, your color will appear more saturated, or bright and intense; it will match the piece of chalk you are drawing with. If you press down softly, the color will look less saturated, or lighter. Where do you see thick and thin lines in Picasso’s rooster? Where do you see more saturated colors and lighter colors?

MOWA’s tips for chalking responsibly:

  • Follow the law. Check with your local authorities to find out if chalk art is permitted in your area. 
  • Chalk only on your property. Be sure to get permission before chalking on any property that is not yours including neighboring sidewalks, any public property, or parking lots.
  • Respect your neighbors. Consider others who will enjoy your art. If an eight-year-old kid shouldn’t read it, don’t write or draw it.
  • Respect the environment. Use eco-friendly chalk or water-based tempera paints. Avoid chalking within fifty feet of water sources, such as lakes, rivers, and streams.

Your sidewalk can be the best canvas! Show us what you create by tagging @MilwaukeeArt and use #MAMStudioAtHome and #ChalktheState.

Kohl’s Studio at Home activities are designed to be enjoyed with the whole family, regardless of age. Families can work together to learn new techniques and materials, and to explore creativity. As with all new things, provide your child the support and supervision that they need for their developmental level, practicing safe use of tools and materials. You know your kids best!

Brett Henzig is the Youth & Family Programs Educator. He manages the Kohl’s Art Generation Studio, leads school tour workshops, and teaches Youth Studio Classes and Summer Art Camps. Outside the Museum, you’ll find Brett making art, rescuing injured wild animals, and spending time with his wife, dog, cat, and rabbit.

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