Sarasota International Chalk Festival, November 4-6, 2011

We returned for a second fabulous year in Sarasota, where we met other artists from all over the world. We didn't think it was possible for the festival to grow even larger than last year's, but it did, with the addition of mural and graffiti art, an opera, and a reproduction of the 24-hour Grazie di Curtatone festival in Italy.

The street painting part of the festival was split into different sections. At one end was the Traditional segment, with artists reproducing paintings that were older than 1950. Next to it, about a dozen brave souls competed in the Grazie section, starting Friday night at 6 pm and ending the following evening at the same time. We delivered cookies and good cheer after dinner that night. The Grazie competition was launched with the traditional Blessing of the Chalk by a retired Italian priest; we all got a piece of chalk to use in our paintings, even those of us who weren't participating in Grazie. Next to Grazie was the 3D section (or most of it--two paintings didn't fit there), which included a terra cotta Lego army, a pool with people and animals from four continents (Asia, Africa, Europe and North America, I think), mermaids cavorting with dragonflies, and a hot tub VW bug you could pose on, among others. The rest of the paintings were in the Contemporary section, where we were. These were reproductions of paintings from 1950 or newer along with original paintings. Though ours was a 3D painting, we asked to be in the Contemporary section because we figured our painting was too small to mix with the big 3D paintings (as it turned out, it was the same size as some of the other 3D paintings).

Our painting was a 12' wide by 24' tall image of a pirate on a wooden tall ship. The Lady Washington modeled for us for the ship (she was in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie as the Interceptor) and one of her crewmen played the role of the pirate. The mermaid swam in via Google, as did the ship's wheel--the Lady Washington is steered by tiller. We cleared the deck of a lot of rope, too.

Cheryl paints the big fist holding the big sword
We planned to start early on Friday, but soon after breakfast at Word of Mouth the cloudy skies opened up. It rained most of the morning, so we watched the 3D painters cover their art (they'd started on Tuesday) and hung out with the other painters. We were glad to have had that chance to socialize, as we didn't have much time to goof off in daylight hours after that. Once we transferred the pattern to our section of roadway, Cheryl started on the pirate's raised fist while Wayne sharpened the sword.

Closeup of the sword hand
The sword hand and hilt, mostly complete.

Chris Brake fights the pirate hand
Our friend Chris went up against the disembodied pirate hand. He laughs at danger!

Cheryl paints the pirate face while a mermaid looks on
Cheryl painted the mermaid before starting on the pirate's face.

Side view of Cheryl painting the pirate face
The pirate peers out behind his eyepatch. The crewman was wearing sunglasses, so Cheryl found an anonymous face on Google with the right expression and pasted a new eye on the crewman. He ended up looking a bit like Jack Nicholson...we just explained that Johnny Depp was busy.

The painting on Saturday afternoon with crowd
By Saturday afternoon, most of the Dread Pirate (we call him Doug) was complete (though he had a bad five o'clock shadow). Crowds were starting to gather on the street.

The pirate and mermaid on Saturday afternoon
Closeup of the Dread Pirate Doug and his mermaid buddy on Saturday afternoon.

Wayne teaches kids how to paint
Wayne teaches some kids how to paint a gunwale (that's the side rail on a ship).

A little girl fights the pirate
Grrrrr...the Dread Pirate Daisy fights the Dread Pirate Doug.

Denise Kowal fights the pirate
Festival organizer Dread Pirate Denise fights the Dread Pirate Doug.

Wayne paints the ship's wheel
Wayne wheels into place to paint the ship's wheel. He was our spokesman.

Viewing the painting from over the heads of the crowd
By Sunday afternoon, it was impossible to get to the front of the crowd to see the painting (and pretty hard to get back to the painting if you were painting it, too). Looks like the blond lady on the right is next up to fight the Dread Pirate.

Diagonal view across the painting
A diagonal view across the painting toward Adry and her painting.

Closeup of completed pirate and mermaid
We finished late enough on Sunday that we couldn't take any photos (it was getting dark), so we came back early on Monday to see all the paintings we hadn't seen. Here's our pirate and mermaid.

Close view of the pirate arm and sword
We joked that this was the Pirate of the Lake (a la Arthurian myth).

View from the side of the pirate head
The pirate head looks very stretched out from the side.

Upside down sword
The painting looked even odder from the top end. We heard people ask if the sword was a scythe or a sail.

Entire painting viewed from the top
The full upside-down view.

Closeup of the pirate head

Final painting
The completed painting.

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