Here’s where it all starts:
I get my chalk from Eternity Arts. It’s much thicker and brighter than anything else I can find. It’s also expensive, but worth it for the brightness. Oh, and there’s some cheap kids’ sidewalk chalk there from Rite-Aid, good for filling huge spaces. For The Carrot Farmer, I also needed my cheap Reeves pastels to add crisp outlines and details.
When I was first contacted about the project, I made a series of sketches that might fit the theme, including this one:
Which was ultimately the one chosen. I cobbled a bunch of reference photos together until I had enough to make a mock-up drawing in colored pencil, which naturally took many times longer than the final:
Now, before this goes any farther, I need to give credit where it is due and admit that actually transferring said sketch into 3D would once again have been impossible without Justin:
…with his superior patience and spatial and mathematical reasoning capacity. Figuring out the measurements for this drawing was much harder than for the cow, a) because of insanely hot, humid, brain-melting temperatures, b) because the primary drawing subject which the measurements needed to be based on was only a fraction of the overall picture, and c) because the photoshopped print-out that we needed to grid and the original drawing were different sizes and proportions anyway. We (or, I should say, he) figured out this problem more or less and did a trial run on the South Royalton School parking lot blacktop (after it finally stopped raining) only to find, despite there being no more time to do another one, that the Farmer was looking tiny next to a person perched in the photo spot. What to do? Justin determined that we should stretch the entire image four instead of three times, which made all the difference.
We arrived in Burlington at the Royall Tyler Theatre to get started at 7:45 am, only to find that even at this unseemly hour there is no parking to be found anywhere in the vicinity. We dropped off the supplies, parked blocks away and had to jog back to get the gridding started. Here’s Justin testing the sizing of our Farmer sketch. You can already see the optical illusion at work in that cyan blue grid—it looks like a rectangle!
…More or less accurate. The weather reports were threatening rain at 1 pm, so there was no time to lose in throwing the rest of the drawing down. Here I am measuring the perspective for the carrot fields from a vanishing point just below the Farmer’s nose.
When drawing a portrait, I save the face for last so I will not lose interest in the rest of the picture by starting the best part first. When drawing a face stretched into oblivion for the first time, however…I had to start there to make sure it would all Work. You can get a good look at how stretched it is here—a surreal experience to draw. (Also note the shameless Blick advertising…yes, I get a lot of supplies there, though not, in fact, this chalk.)
I spent the first whole hour or so on the face.
Justin reminded me that, given the forecast, this may not be the best use of my time.
Passersby also all seemed to feel the need to mention that a huge downpour was coming, just so you know. Yes, I know! Trust me, I’ve been following the hour-by-hour on weather.com since it’s been available! If anyone knows, it is the person drawing a 22-foot Big Friendly Giant farmer in chalk on the courtyard!
Here I’ve blocked in more of the farmer’s body. The goal was to have the farmer done by noon for the first people arriving to the Summit so that they could get their picture taken with him. The picture finished at about eleven feet wide…that’s a lot of green fields without a lot of different varieties of green. I love Eternity Arts, but I did not have the green spectrum I had hoped for. Fortunately, I was in enough of a rush to not waste too much worry on that.
Here’s where the drawing stood at about eleven thirty. Justin had brought back a sandwich to share and then had to leave to pick up his kids…after helping to fill in the sky with cheap Rite-Aid chalk to leave a nice ground for me to go back over with a deeper blue. This probably saved me a good hour. In the meantime, people were beginning to arrive to the conference.
Did you know, they said, that it is going to rain later?
This is what I say to that:
By the time I came to the carrot basket, the rain had not come—instead, the sun had. It was hot, and I was starting to crispify.
This is also where I was starting to get tired enough to really play around with color and stop worrying about doing it Right. This is almost always a good threshold to cross:
After getting enough of the lower part of the picture finished, I spent just about forever grinding 11 pieces of sky blue chalk onto the concrete and massaging it in to all the little crevices. Eventually, the scraps wind up in the gutter:
…and here is the picture finished, ready to interact with.
…and some people interacting!
Now they were saying:
Don’t you know, it’s going to pour tonight? What a bummer! What a bummer. Isn’t there anything you can do?
To which I said: No! And I don’t care! Because I am so grateful that it is now 4:30 and there—miraculously!—hasn’t been a drop. Chalk is all about non-attachment anyway.
Here’s the BFG view:
…and some more fun with colors and textures. The nitpicky realist in me is horrified by how inexact the chalk experience can be, but the color-lover just sees one big party.