A Letterville Step By Step
Chalk Boards
Rob Clark

This is a photo of my kit. The 'Mungyo' pastels you can see are the SOFT chalks.
The 'Contes' are the HARD chalks.
The pencils you see are HARD pastels in pencil form, great for detail work.
Take note... Soft pastels will only go over Hard, so we always start with hard (e.g. Conte`s/ Rembrandts)
Also, These are ALL Dry pastels, that is, they are NOT the oil based.

To the Boards....

These boards are any smooth finished
material. They are sprayed using water based
Flat Black Poster paint. It is important to spray
the background, as any marks or impressions
left in the background will come through the
chalk work.
I will feature the Wood fired Pizza header first.
Here you see my markout. I transfer this to a piece
of compressed fiber board we call Weathertex or MDOand.
Cut it to shape. This is then sprayed as mentioned before, flat black


Then I mark out the words and paint in what I call 'the underpainting.'

You don't see the words 'Wood Fired' in this photo
for some crazy reason. They were just brushed in
using flat black after this pic was taken.)
For the underpainting, I chose what I perceive
to be the mid range colour of the effect to be
created. In this case a chrome yellow with a
drop of black. I want a fiery effect so I will be
using white, lemon yellow, chrome yellow,
orange and reds. This under colour should
provide a slightly contrasting back drop to
these colours.

I have started by using the white HARD pastel chalk, roughly scribbling in a wild mark making style, following up with lemon & chrome yellow, orange and reds. I like this insane mark making style because it gives life and action to the piece and I don't have to get caught in detail. Okay, the art. In this photo you see the underpainting of foods. Again, I have chosen what I see to be a tone of the middle colour of each item, no detail, just a blob of colour for each.

Then I go to work with the chalks. (Pastels)
Using the hard chalks first, I scratch (mark making) in the colours, keeping in mind my light source for my highlights and shading. If i want my colours to 'pop' just a little more I use the soft chalks (Mungyo) over the top, but I use these sparingly because the clearcoat soaks into the soft chalk a little more than it does the hard chalks.

The trick with my style is to disguise that edge of the underpainting by scratching the chalk over the edges and sometimes working back into the edge with black chalk.

Then I attached the header to the board,
bashed in the border and added the vinyl
text. I like to keep the text simple, I find
white works best, easy to read and very
clean looking. The prices can be changed
easier as well.
Clear coating is an option to help seal the
work against smudging, but it wont seal it
completely. I use satin finish water based
clear, sprayed on in about 3 coats as a
very fine mist that just kind of floats
onto the surface. You will lose some colour
but it can't be avoided if the job must be
cleared. The last coat should be a little
heavier so the finished surface is not too
porous/rough/grainy, as this will cause your
vinyl text to not stick very well. Oh yeah,
do your clear coating before you apply your text.
Yes, the clear is water based and is available here in Oz, so you may just have to pack a lunch and come get some. Solvent or oil based clears
tend to eat the chalk heaps more than water based .
And yes it is applied with a spray gun
rather than a rattle gun. 

These boards have been put up outside, the owners screw a sheet of 3mm clear Acrylic sheet over them and seal the edges with Silicon.  Some of my boards have been up for over 12 months now, they are surviving reasonably well, but this work was never intended for outside use so.......go figure.

Following are some other examples of underpainting and chalkwork to give you a bit more of an idea.

Note the underpainting of the border, it kinda just tails off into nothing. You will see why in this next photo.

In this piece I have used my fingers to kinda smudge some items, like the Potatoes, Mushrooms. I will roughly lay down the colours and then run my fingers over them to merge them together. Some chalk artist use only this style, it's nice, gives an airbrushed kinda feel to the work.


Here is the finished job.

Rob Clark is  a  signmaker and Letterhead from Oakwood, Qld Australia.  You are  invited to e-mail Rob at rcsigns@widebay.net.au

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