Chalk is Fine Art at the Denver Chalk Art Festival at Larimer Square

What high art could possibly be produced with mere colored chalk?

You may think that chalk, as an artistic medium, isn’t capable of truly astounding art. I know my expectations of chalk art weren’t that high.

That is, until I experienced the annual Denver Chalk Art Festival — an amazing (and free) event where I saw some truly eye-popping works of art. And although the drawings were technically only chalk on a street, emotionally they consisted of much, much more.

So what is the Denver Chalk Art Festival?

I’ll break it down into some digits for you:

  • 200+ artists spend
  • 10+ hours creating street art for
  • 2 days at the festival which happens
  • 1 day each year and costs
  • $0 to attend, but the experience is
  • Priceless

What would Bob think?

Many chalk artists drawing on the street

Basically, these chalk artists do with chalk what Bob Ross does with paint: they really own their craft.

Beautiful things (even copyrighted things!) were being scribed onto the street for all to see. In every direction, people were either observing or creating chalk art. Some of the drawings were done in fiery colors, some looked like they were from a child’s story book, and some were drawn to almost photographic detail. And where there were cracks in the pavement, the artists somehow worked that into the work, too.

Without seeing this, I never would have guessed that chalk was so darn versatile!

But instead of telling you any more about the art, I’m going to show you. We’re going to briefly touch on some of the highlights.

Let’s begin…

Where the Wild Things Are Drawn

"Where the Wild Things Are" chalk art in-progressWalking down the street, I even spotted a wild thing from the classic children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak.

While the drawing was unfortunately only partially done, it was pretty obvious to see that whoever drew this was very experienced because they managed to capture the lifelike quality of this wild character. You could almost imagine the creature leaping right out of the street and walking away.

It’s a good thing that isn’t possible. I don’t want to think about what would happen if a wild thing got let loose in a fair with all those food vendors around…

The Fiery Orange-Red Lady

Fiery Red-Orange woman drawn in chalkI love the fiery colors in this one. The yellow to orange to red gradients were done really well.

Like most of the work I photographed, it wasn’t quite finished yet. (Although the artist did such a good job on this one, she could have stopped after finishing the flowers.)

Thankfully, I did get to see the final product later.

Incredibly-Detailed Faces

Chalk artist drawing realistic face onto street

When I saw this, it nearly stopped me right in my tracks. The level of detail he was able to achieve in this street drawing is pretty incredible. And luckily he wasn’t the only person this talented at the festival. You couldn’t throw a stick without seeing something fascinating.

Although, I do consider this one special because it was one of the most photo-realistic drawings there. I found another fantastic face drawn onto the street, too; but I didn’t want to clutter up this article with too many photos. So to see that, you’ll have to check out the Denver Chalk Art photo album in the gallery.

The Tale of the Orange Owl & Green Grasshopper

Colorful Owl and Grasshopper chalk art by Heather BrownAnd to finish up this phototastic article, I present to you something I’ve named “The Orange Owl and the Green Grasshopper”.

I really liked this one; it reminded me of the colorful and mysterious children’s books that I had as a child. (In fact, this may even be a recreation scene from a children’s book I’ve never read. If it is, I’d appreciate it if you’d let me know.)

Clearly children’s illustration was an inspiration to Heather Brown, who is the talented artist who drew this; and if she was trying evoke a sense of childlike playfulness and joy, I’d say she succeeded.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief tour of the Denver Chalk Art Festival, and if you’re ever going to Denver in June, you’d be a crazyperson to pass up this opportunity to see so much amazing (and free) street art!

And then I wandered right into…

But there’s more to the story because quite near to the chalk art festival was another festival, and I happened to wander right into it.

Coming up: a nearly forgotten medieval instrument, footage of a surprisingly good Elvis impersonator, and the snazziest street musician I’ve ever seen:

Continue the journey →

Photos from this trip are in the Denver Chalk Art Festival album. All photos in the Gallery can be used as desktop wallpapers because they are high resolution (1920×1440).

4 bits on Chalk is Fine Art at the Denver Chalk Art Festival at Larimer Square

  1. Chalk art really is incredible! I saw many people doing it on the streets of Florence–one was of The Last Supper–and it was just unbelievable how good they were. I’ve seen many pics like this online and am constantly blown away what people can do with chalk! It’s just sad that it gets washed away with rain…

  2. It’s funny that you mention rain, Emily, because about 3 hours after I took these pictures there was a small storm. I didn’t get a chance to return and survey the damage, but judging from the pictures on the festival’s website, the artists were able to cover up their work in time to finish it.

    It really is amazing what they’re able to do though! Do you have an pictures from Florence that you can share? I’d love to see them.

  3. This truly is such an amazing medium to use in art. The fact that something simple like chalk can be used to create these awesome works of art is astounding. The drawing of the the owl and the grasshopper is so beautiful! It does remind me of illustrations that one would find in a children’s book. Great job to all the artists!!!! – Jeza

  4. Pingback Where can you find a surprisingly good Elvis impersonator? Denver!