Creating Hands that are Larger than Life / by Joan Chamberlain

My "Piping" image at Lark on the Park.

Drawing with chalk on a mural-sized chalkboard. If that doesn't bring out the kid in you, nothing will. Sunday, July 10, the day seven artists started a fresh batch of chalkboard murals at Lark on the Park, a restaurant in Dallas, Texas. I'd been looking forward to this event since March, when I was approved to participate as one of those artists.

That's me in the white shirt. Using a level to mark off my grid.

I first became aware of the Lark blackboards when Roger and I ate dinner there one night in February. On the back of each menu is a roster of the featured blackboards and a little bit about each artist. My first thought was "What a commitment to art!" It is even more apparent to me now that I see what an effort it is to set up the scaffolding, prepare the boards, and ask everyone who works there to go about their work while ducking around scaffolds and tarps. They are pros at it - brunch service is carried on seamlessly, and there's an atmosphere of happy energy as artists, diners, and restaurant employees share in the excitement of the event.

The chalkboards vary in size, mine was 6.25'h x 11.8'w. Having done my share of murals, I decided to use a scalable grid to transfer my drawing to the board. I started drawing the grid a little before 9 a.m. and completed the grid by 10 a.m. The drawing I chose to use is one of my favorites, titled Wendy Piping, that I converted to a digital chalkboard effect on paper.

The original sketch, and the reversed out chalkboard version.

Transferring the drawing onto the board, using a scalable grid for reference. Each square on the board is 7 5/16".

Transferring the design was simple, but no matter how carefully you transfer the details, there are always areas that require you to step back and look at the image as a whole. Angles and lines are easily distorted when you are only looking at a small segment of the entire piece.

Erasing some of the grid to clean up the image.

All of the other artists present had done boards for Lark before, so I picked up a few tips by watching their processes. For instance, we all know that a wet rag makes a great eraser, but it hadn't occurred to me to bring some small brushes to use as erasers for cleaning up around lettering or in tight spaces. I wrapped up my work by 5 p.m., knowing that I would go back in the morning and take a look at it with fresh eyes.

Roughing in the title for the piece.

In my next post, I'll have the final images with the scaffolds and tarp removed. And like most artists, I'm sure I'll see something I wish I had done differently.

My friend, and talented photographer, Alfonso Quiroz, capturing the process.