32 artists were selected to each create a 2.24 m by 2 m artwork on the pavement, reacting to the theme “The blues”.
With any outdoor event, you are at the mercy of the elements, and we were all hoping the rain would hold off. In past years the festival and the artworks have been washed away all too soon. We were very lucky this year, with only a few threatening sprinkles during the early mornings (as we were working on canvas taped to the ground, we were able to roll them up at the end of each day, as it usually rained throughout the night).
In past years I’ve been a volunteer for the festival, friend to many of the artists, and general supporter, but this year I was bullied into entering (I’m holding fast to that excuse!) As my work is usually very small-scale, and I work in a very neat and meticulous way, the thought of working with crumbly pastels on the ground on such a huge scale was definitely daunting!!
Yet I was assigned a spot next to a good friend of mine (Luke Marcatili, who created an awesome piece) so it was nice to be able to chat to him and have a friendly face around.
Most of the time, though, we had our heads down chalking away, furiously trying to complete our pieces for the deadline. Many artists ended up having their fingertips worn down from smoothing the pastels (including me, resulting in a stinging numbness for a few days), all our backs were aching, our legs were killing from squatting and standing and squatting all day, we were grubby and filthy and covered in chalk, but we had a good time, there was a nice vibe, and it was great to see the artworks emerging over the four days.
Okay! Enough blabbering, let me show you how my piece progressed over the festival.
I deliberately decided to steer clear of the more stereotypical depression or emotional depictions, and I don’t know much about Blues music. For my chalk artwork I drew “Blue-Beard the Pirate, Shipwrecked at Blue Lagoon”.
The first thing I did was to cover my entire canvas in the base colours.
Then I blocked in the major areas of where the characters would be.
This was the hardest day. The sun was blaring down on us and we were sapped of energy. I feel like I barely progressed at all, added some details.
As Blue-Beard himself was the main focus of the piece, I worked on him the most.
Thankfully it was an overcast day, the sun never peeped out. This is the ideal weather for outdoor work! Got a lot more done. Basically day three is the day to “finish” your piece, so I aimed at getting everything major done.
We only had a few hours before judging started at 1pm. This was the day for final finishing touches: highlights, feathers, claws, sea foam.
Here are some close-ups.
By the way, people were getting confused by the two female characters, thinking Blue-Beard was going to be mighty jolly when he woke up to find pretty ladies surrounding him.