Drawing with chalk is one of the simplest and most accessible art mediums. All you need is a canvas of concrete, a few bright sticks of color and your creative spark to make a work of art.
That process will happen dozens of time at the fourth annual Idaho Statesman Chalk Art Festival on the Fourth of July. It brings together professional and community artists to create a ribbon of imagination through Ann Morrison Park.
It's a marvel to watch, as these sidewalk murals take shape throughout the day. These artists can accomplish a lot in eight hours. In a way, the time constraint becomes part of the artistic medium.
"The time forces you to work with expediency and that changes what you do," says Marcus Pierce, who is one of the Statesman's featured artists for the second time.
You must have a plan, he says.
Pierce already is hashing out his ideas and will bring a pounce pattern with him to Ann Morrison Park.
It's a technique used by artists for centuries to transfer images to large or small surfaces.
Pierce sketches his image on paper, then perforates along the lines. When he gets to his section of sidewalk, he lays it out on the concrete and sprinkles chalk powder over the lines. What falls through the holes creates an outline for this mural.
"I work like that a lot," says Pierce, who often creates large-scale paintings and murals. He just completed a mural at the MK Nature Center.
Geoffrey Everts - who will create a chalk mural for the fourth year - is a former Disney animator. He normally works in a highly detailed fashion to create his wildly fantastical images.
Working fast within the eight hours is a great creative challenge, he says.
Everts prepares by creating tiny, thumbnail sketches of his ideas, to nail down the composition. He'll bring four or five ideas with him to the park, "but I really don't know what I'm going to do until I get there," he says.
Then working fast comes into play.
"I just throw it (the image) down on the concrete. When you do that you come out with something that has verve. When you take too much time and hem and haw, you run the risk of something being stale."
Like many of the artists, Everts works with a mix of sidewalk chalk and pastels. The latter he uses for anything that's a point of interest because it offers a stronger, more stable base that allows the color to be more intense, he says.
Melissa Chambers, co-founder of the Treasure Valley Artists Alliance, is new to this whole chalk thing, and she's nervous about the time constraint.
"Eight hours isn't as long as you think," she says.
Chambers paints in watercolor for her vibrant large portraits and acrylics for her decorative pieces. She also works with glass and fabric.
"This is very different than what I normally do, which is very detailed, so I've been practicing with simpler ideas," she says.
Chambers has been practicing her piece, sketching vintage firecrackers and fireworks, and filling her backyard patio with chalk.
"I'm a first-timer and I have my fingers crossed," she says. "This is really out of my comfort zone. I'm always saying that art people should just go for it. Now, I'm doing it myself."
Artist Karen Bubb - who also is a four-year chalk art veteran - works differently. For her, the time is an inspiration because she knows she's digging in for the day, she says.
Bubb, who also is Boise's public art manager, is an artist who works in a broad variety of mediums, from encaustic to stained glass. When it comes to chalk, she comes with several ideas and usually does two squares.
"I choose bold images that I think will appeal to the viewer from their perspective, then work on a basic grid to keep the shape of the piece," she says. "It's hard to get the perspective right when you're working on your knees."
This year Bubb is working with historic photos to celebrate Boise 150.
OTHER CHALK ARTISTS TO WATCH
This is Boise artist Lauren T. Kistner's second festival. She's been an Artist in Residence fellow and created one of the popular traffic box public art pieces. She draws on the natural world for her delicate and organic images.
Artist and architect Bryon W. Folwell will join the featured artists for the first time. An architect and public artist, he has done several projects in Boise, including his recent "Razor Sharp and Fast," a wall-mounted sculpture that reflects both the patterns that figure skaters make in the ice and the molecular structure of ice.
You'll find all the featured artists working on the sidewalk on the west side of the fountain.
Dana Oland: 377-6442, Twitter: @IDS_DanaOland