Elmira Street Painting Festival - Elmira, NY

How To Street Paint

Street Painting: Just the basics and a few ideas:

For those of you who work methodically, here is how to create a street painting using a grid. The items listed in the parenthesis are suggested tools/supplies that you could use to assist in carrying out the specific step. Use of the word ‘painting’ refers to using your chalk pastels to draw out and color in your image.

1. Select the image you plan to re-create on the street surface. Traditional street painters sometimes select works from the old masters like Raphael or Michelangelo. However, you may want to re-create a modern piece or your own original artwork. Selecting a photograph is also popular.

2. Make color photocopies of the selected image. Several copies will be needed, especially if more than one artist will be working on the piece. (Color copier, white paper)

3. Draw a grid over the photocopies using a ruler and thin marker. Half-inch squares are ideal. Measure carefully so that all photocopies are gridded identically. (Ruler, pencil, eraser, marker, drawing board)

4. Label the grid columns on your photocopies horizontally with alphabetical letters and vertically with numbers. (Pencil, eraser, marker)

5. Mount photocopies on cardboard to make them easier to work with. (Cardboard, mat board, Bristol board, glue, double sided tape, spray adhesive, scissors)

Preparing the Work Area

1. Sweep the area you'll be working on to remove any debris. (Broom, hand held whisk broom, dust tray)

2. The designated areas to create the paintings are typically square or rectangular. Try to make sure that the shape of the space on the street is very close to the same shape as your image. Determine the exact size of your allotted space.

3. Measure out the four corners and then use a carpenter's chalk line to mark straight lines on the pavement. This will show you where the outside edges of your shape lie. (Large tape measure, chalk, carpenter’s chalk line)

4. Affix masking tape to the pavement along the chalk lines on the outside of the shape to help create sharp borders – if this is the look you desire. Some street painters work outside of the rigid shape to achieve a more organic edge – if this is the case for you then omit this step. (Masking tape, duct tape)

--- A. If you desire a background color for your painting, this is the point where you will apply one or more layers of water-based tempera paint. Typically artists use only one solid color, however, this is up to you and will be dictated by the layout of your design. (Disposable paint rollers, paint tray, water, spray bottle, black or white tempera paint)

5. If you choose to use the borders of the shape as a hard edge around your painting – follow this step: Using a tape measure and marker, measure out points on the masking tape that will be used to create a grid on the pavement. The grid on the ground will need to correspond with the grid on your photocopied picture. Measurements will differ, but a good ratio of pavement-square size to photocopy would be one 6-inch square on the pavement per half-inch square on the photocopy – ˝ inch on paper = 6 inches on the pavement. (Large tape measure, marker)

--- A. Using the chalk line tool, snap lines connecting from each side of the shape to mark your grid. Line up the chalk line first to the horizontal and then to the vertical points marked on the masking tape.

--- B. Label the masking tape border with the letters and numbers that correspond to those noted on the photocopy of the image. These will serve as location guides.

6. If you are choosing a more organic edge for the painting you will still want to measure out the borders of your basic shape – do this with chalk.

--- A. If you desire a background color for your painting, this is the point where you will apply one or more layers of water-based tempera paint. Typically artists use only one solid color, however, this is up to you and will be dictated by the layout of your design. (Disposable paint rollers, paint tray, water, spray bottle, black or white tempera paint)

--- B. Using chalk, create the grid on the ground. This will need to correspond with the grid on your photocopied picture. Measurements will differ, but a good ratio of pavement-square size to photocopy would be one 6-inch square on the pavement per half-inch square on the photocopy – ˝ inch on paper = 6 inches on the pavement.

--- C. Using the chalk line tool, snap lines connecting from each side of the shape to mark your grid. Line up the chalk line first to the horizontal and then to the vertical points marked on the masking tape.

--- D. Label the border with the letters and numbers that correspond to those noted on the photocopy of the image. These will serve as location guides.

Painting Your Masterpiece

1. Use your photocopy and grids to guide you as you chalk out a rough outline of the complete image you are painting on the pavement - just enough to map out the image and get the proportions correct. (Padded knee guards, chalk pastels, various blending tools, work gloves, cushions to sit and kneel upon, visor, cap, large paintbrushes, chalkboard erasers)

2. Start from the top of the painting area and begin ‘painting’ the image with the colored chalk.

3. Lay a foundation of color using your fingers in small areas and a chalkboard eraser for larger areas.

4. Fill in the details of the image using various shades of colored chalk. Continue to blend colors to gain the right effect. Leave some chalk color unblended on the surface of the pavement to bring out colors, highlights and details.

5. Work your way down the area of your painting.

6. Remove the masking tape to reveal clean, crisp outlines (if applicable).

7. Sign your work. If you've reproduced an image originally created by another artist (living or deceased), give the artist credit by noting his or her name and the title of the piece at the bottom of the street painting. Have a friend take a photo of you near your painting.

Be Prepared for Many Situations

• Heat – Sunscreen, hat, water/ice, fruit, umbrella.

• Rain – Umbrella, poncho, duct tape, tarp(s), waterproof container for supplies.

• Large crowds of people – Bring a smile and anything that helps you maintain your smile, like chocolate!

• Children – There will be lots of little kids, be patient and willing chat and answer their questions.

• Pets – Pets like to walk their people around the festival. They are typically pretty good at controlling their people, but they have been known to steal a snack or two.

• Hunger – Pack some of your favorite foods. There will be food available, but in case you need something different or specific.

• Exhaustion – Take rests and possibly ask friends or family to provide some breaks. Art is hard work!



Elmira Street Painting Festival ElmiraStreetPaintingFestival.org