Chalk It Up

For the past three years I’ve participated in the Paseo Colorado Chalk Festival in Pasadena. Sponsored by the Light Bringer Project (where proceeds go to art education in Pasadena classrooms and other community-based projects), the event is held in June on Father’s Day weekend, where chalk artists work from sunrise until sundown on their murals. Artists can work individually, with a partner, or in a group on a mural that can be as large as 10 x 10 feet—but I’ve seen much larger:


The techniques used are amazing. Methods include priming the surface with a base layer, sketching, meticulous blending, painting ground chalk mixed with water, spraying down pulverized chalk, or other various combinations. Some participants take inspiration from the year’s current events, pop culture, even masterpieces in local museums.


Every year there are always new ideas and new designs; some works are so seamlessly blended it’s hard to believe they’re done with chalk.


The Chalk Festival attracts several visitors, and while the large crowds and parking might be a detractor to some, here’s an insider’s advice: beat the summer heat and get there early on Sunday. The parking meters are free, and you can also catch the Pasadena Police Classic Car Show that runs concurrently with the Chalk Festival. If Dad wants to sleep in on his special day, you can always go at dusk: take advantage of the long summer days and see the murals in all their glory after the crowds have died down. But don’t wait too long: the concrete gets washed clean the next day.

Devi Noor

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