David Zinn is an Ann Arbor treasure. I’ve written before about the seeming magic of his chalk art, in which fantastical creatures briefly appear in the nooks and crannies of the city, only to disappear with the summer rains or (as currently) winter snows.
Now Zinn has shared his techniques with young people in The Chalk Art Handbook: How to Create Masterpieces on Driveways and Sidewalks and in Playgrounds. It’s a long title for a not-at-all-intimidating book that shares Zinn’s techniques for creating chalk art that seemingly comes to life. It includes suggestions for incorporating the cracks and foliage of the natural environment, as well as hints for creating realistic creatures and 3-D illusions. During a time when so many of us are still looking for safe activities to do outside, chalk art is a fine creative solution. If you live in a place where sidewalks are not currently covered with snow and ice, what better time to try your hand at sidewalk magic? And if, like me, you are not skilled at representational drawing, do not despair. This book will give you the strategies you need to gain confidence and have fun. I fully admit that I purchased this book intending to read it, write about it, and then give it away to a young friend with substantially more drawing prowess than I. But after reading it, I really want to try chalk art myself. So, for now, The Chalk Art Handbook is carefully stashed in my office, waiting for Michigan sidewalks to be visible again. It should be only a few more months. . . .