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Plain White Chalk.

Updated on October 15, 2018
Oztinato profile image

I have a degree in Fine Arts plus years of freelance art "hands on" experience. The medium itself is the message.

Just White Chalk

just plain white chalk
just plain white chalk | Source


In my career as a freelance artist the humble blackboard has often opened the most doors and intrigued the most people. It is a refreshing and basic art form that appeals to a very wide audience.

Blackboards are spontaneous, creative and above all are related to the historical role of the individual artist. Many signs and stickers today rely almost entirely on modern technology: as a result the traditional concept of the artist has suffered.

Blackboards once again allow the free flow of spontaneous individual ideas and hence permit the individual personality of the artist to make itself known. The medium aids personal style and line to come through as the main sub theme of the works.

Also the use of traditional materials such as chalk and pastel reconnect artists and viewers to historically earlier periods of art. Both artist and audience can again touch the purely human spirit unencumbered by computers and high technology. The roots of art can once again be experienced.

Chalk art is retro art. It gives people a break from phones, computer keyboards and artificial art assembled with pixels and often little personal skill. The best examples of computer art are ultimately a huge group effort, and although the results are inspiring, something of the individual artist is lost in translation.


Pastel T-bone
Pastel T-bone | Source


With rapid efficient work skills and a simple box of colored pastels, a wide variety of effects and ideas can be communicated to the viewing public. This gives the chance for the artist to "put on an exhibition" on a regular basis, as the busy world of hospitality provides and endless variety of seasonal changes.

There are several themes present at the same time. Firstly the obvious theme of presenting a mundane steak special. Secondly, the use of an old world medium to intrigue and entice the eye. Thirdly, the theme of the individual artist's skills at work on a fairly monumental scale. Lastly there are subtler themes of playfulness and humor. The sated panther is depicted both physically and metaphorically high up a tree as it would in the wild. This adds to the general effect.


Full Sized Lioness
Full Sized Lioness | Source


Subtler themes are allowed even with the rapid spontaneity of chalk work. In this example the theme of "carnivore" is adapted to a steak special. A full sized lioness is shown inelegantly gnawing on a meaty bone. The subtler idea is to present the concept to the female customer not to hold back on delicacy when it comes to getting into a steak! The previous black panther resting high up in the branches after being sated is here contrasted to the active lioness perched on the ledge right in the middle of the restaurant area.

The other theme of humor is also pursued as people enter such large eateries with a good natured and enjoyable spirit; hence the themes need to connect to this ambiance.

Many of these themes and works occur spontaneously, sometimes only moments before the work is undertaken. This allows the free flow of ideas and inspiration.

Humorous Menu

Vintage fashion
Vintage fashion | Source


Black and white chalk art is perhaps the most in demand in today's current retro art market.

Both vintage and standard styles often demand just plain white chalk.

In this image of the cocktail glass the main sub theme of the artist's skill has taken over from the main theme of simply selling cocktails. The cocktail bar has been enhanced by the black and white image and a more direct "exhibition" of art. This allows the individual artist to resume his traditional role.


Vintage | Source

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The ultimate proof of the appeal of chalk art is surely the popularity of vintage styles around the globe. This style gives the viewer a psychological break from the modern visuals that usually surround us. It cleverly manages to take us back in time for a while. The meaning of retro takes on a whole new dimension as many of these styles date back to the early 1900s!

Although I personally find this style perhaps slightly less individualistic it is nonetheless a really enjoyable and free wheeling experience. The knack is knowing no matter what corner you have painted yourself into there is always a way to bend and stretch the letters to fit!

Sometimes, as in the second example here, the artist can craft something new out of awkward spaces and unusual demands.


Designed on the spot. Done in oil pastel. The lower half is left blank as it is not visible from the bar.
Designed on the spot. Done in oil pastel. The lower half is left blank as it is not visible from the bar. | Source


Oil pastels have been used in a hospitality setting since the time of Toulouse Lautrec. I find myself turning to them more and more to combat the chaotic liquid environment of restaurants and bars. They are very practical and thoroughly waterproof. I have even used them on exterior blackboards and watched as literal torrents of rain cascade harmlessly over them. Rain often gives the work a good wash and cleans off any residual plain chalk that was sketched prior to overlaying with oils!

Oil pastels are quite slippery and a little more difficult to use than either plain chalk, or chalk pastels. However they demand that you use them very rapidly and economically with almost no over working or corrections. The results can be quite satisfactory.

The samples I have chosen show both black and white use of oil pastels as well as full color. I almost have more pride for the burgers as they were rapidly drawn in a matter of minutes each. After a very light plain white chalk sketch the oil pastels are applied very rapidly without hesitation as oils don't allow much over working at all without looking caked and indistinct. They need to be completed very efficiently to look effective..

Oil Samples

Glass still life
Glass still life | Source
Burgers | Source


I suppose you must have realized by now that my chalk board artists name is Chalky! As I dabble in several fields of the arts I like to change my "nom de plume" with the different fields of writing, art and music. Art is my day job. Music is my night job.

My life revolves around the busy world of freelance art in a bustling city. Art is very user friendly when it comes to sales and meeting people as most people want to relax and appreciate the finer things in life. Blackboards have allowed me to meet a wide range of people and businesses. They are even threatening to take my work overseas to Japan and the USA.

Blackboards also encapsulate everything I always wanted art to be: unpretentious, available, inexpensive and human. I find the gallery world hard to deal with as it seems to be much more about ego and money.

Here are two samples of my own canvases and also a mural.

Painting samples

Hendrix.. Acrylic on Canvas
Hendrix.. Acrylic on Canvas | Source
Satchmo. Acrylic on Canvas.
Satchmo. Acrylic on Canvas. | Source
Thai Goddess. Mural.
Thai Goddess. Mural. | Source


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    • Oztinato profile imageAUTHOR

      Andrew Petrou 

      6 years ago from Brisbane


      Maybe we could work on a cartoon strip. I always run out of good jokes.

    • Mark Ewbie profile image

      Mark Ewbie 

      6 years ago from UK

      Ok - wow! Love all that you're doing there!

    • Oztinato profile imageAUTHOR

      Andrew Petrou 

      6 years ago from Brisbane

      I prefer using ordinary low sheen black paint (here we have a brand called Wattle Low Sheen) as blackboard paint needs special expensive undercoats so that it won't wash off with water cleaning. It needs to be rolled on and not brushed on as brushing leaves grooves that interfere with the chalk.

      I do industrial size jobs which need a lot of coverage so black paint is also economical.

      Surfaces would ideally have a slight texture and not be slippery otherwise the paint will scratch off as you chalk it.

    • amazmerizing profile image


      6 years ago from PACIFIC NORTHWEST, USA

      I like that we can buy our own chalkboard paint and paint any flat surface we want!!! That's so cool!

    • Oztinato profile imageAUTHOR

      Andrew Petrou 

      6 years ago from Brisbane

      Thanks Ron

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 

      6 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      You know, seeing this article brings back memories of chalkboard art I used to see years ago, but haven't even thought about for years. Somehow whiteboards are just not the same. I hope chalkboards don't disappear. Thanks for a good reminder.


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