Help finding or making vibrant sidewalk art
December 28, 2011 11:45 AM   Subscribe

My wife is helping an artist at Vanderbilt University focused in sidewalk painting. But she can't find vibrant chalks in order to accomplish her goals. Can you help?

Here is her description:

An artist is working on a grant at Vanderbilt University and she hopes to make students more aware about color and how combinations of colors affect the perception of color.  She is pulling from Joseph Albers studies of color.  You can get a simplified introduction here.

Because the artist would like to confront students with these art rules about color, she needs to be able to make specific hues in large amounts so that she can paint them on the sidewalks. Here come the contraints--side walk chalk is not brilliant enough and does not effectively demonstrate what Albers was trying to teach.  It would be best if she could make her own paints, cheaply.  The paints need to be bright--see Albers--and then need to be semi-permanent.  They shouldn't last more than a few days.  We could probably wash these with waterhoses, but probably not pressure washers.  Another idea that the artist would like to incorporate portability.  It could be possible that color field squares could be painted on another surface so that they could be moved around and displayed in different areas.  We just aren't sure which material would be durable and not slipper for people to walk over.  

Those are our basic needs to get going on this for now.  I'd appreciate any advice you could offer.  
posted by aburd to Media & Arts (12 answers total)
posted by hmo at 11:51 AM on December 28, 2011

Instead of chalk, use pastels.
posted by mollymayhem at 12:01 PM on December 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

u need more pigmented chalks...look in the pastels section of any art supply store...bonus: colors are usually sold individually as well as in sets...u can just buy the colors u need in the quanties u need...generally it's around a dollar or two per stick (bigger than blackboard chalk, but much smaller,but longer lasting (both when applying and after), than sidewalk chalk, and with MUCH richer color than either.
IIRC, that's what the pro sidewalk painters use and then seal it with hairspray and/or artists fixative spray, a light coat, followed by a heavier coat or two...this will resist sweeping, but probably not a whole bunch of water and will last from weeks to months,even with some rain, depending on foot traffic...
posted by sexyrobot at 12:02 PM on December 28, 2011

As it says above, brilliant colors are the goal. So it isn't just chalk they are looking for. They are focused on finding a solution for vibrant colors using a sidewalk friendly paint or chalk. If it is a paint they want to avoid creating a safety problem (ie slick sidewalks).
posted by aburd at 12:03 PM on December 28, 2011

Man I should have waited before following up!
posted by aburd at 12:04 PM on December 28, 2011

lol...yeah...def look closely at the photos of the artists working that mollymayhem posted to see what they are using. if it's just a few DAYS that these need to be up (or down, lol), they will still need to be sealed with hairspray to keep the colors from tracking into each other (it will still come off with a pressure washer or even a heavy hosing...paint is too permanent) sure to dust the whole thing off with a big dry paintbrush or soft broom before sealing it or it will smudge!
posted by sexyrobot at 12:13 PM on December 28, 2011

Spray chalk? (like the kind used to mark race courses)
posted by candyland at 12:16 PM on December 28, 2011

actually, i'm pretty familiar with albers work...if i were doing it, i would start with the center color, dust it off (always brushing OUT), seal it, and then do the other colors the same way, always moving out...this will keep it the sharpest/boldest (also pastels come in a huge variety of should be easy to find what u need)
posted by sexyrobot at 12:20 PM on December 28, 2011

I've been told that pastels are a little out of budget for this grant because it is such a large scale they are aiming for and a three hundred dollar budget. Maybe they can make their own pastels? Is that possible? Or something cheaper?

Thank you all!!
posted by aburd at 3:29 PM on December 28, 2011

Try a google search for "Make your own sidewalk chalk" - it seems to be tempura paint and plaster of paris and water; you may be able to make the colors more intense by reducing or eliminating the water in the recipe.
posted by lemniskate at 3:46 PM on December 28, 2011

nah...that will just make it fall apart and anything white (like plaster) is going to make it BIG is this thing?...pastels are pretty rich...each one should cover at least 4-8 square feet...
posted by sexyrobot at 4:31 PM on December 28, 2011

She says they are looking to make lots of different pictures all over campus. And each one is pretty large. But I will let them know about the square footage per pastel.

Thanks sexyrobot!
posted by aburd at 6:48 PM on December 28, 2011

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