Student artists celebrate year’s end with Chalk Fest

After the stress of AP testing and with summer right around the corner, Carmel High’s advanced art students will be showing off their skills in the upper quad May 26 for the second annual Chalk Fest featuring this year’s theme of Eyvind Earle, the Disney artist best known for his backgrounds in “Sleeping Beauty.”

“It gives you the opportunity as an artist to compete and show off your skills, and it’s really cool because you get to be in a team full of people you like and just spend the day doing art,” junior Paige Hartley says.

Students will divide themselves into groups of four and spend the school day drawing blown up pictures inspired by the theme with chalk. Art teacher Stephen Russell chooses the artist that students will base their chalk art on. Last year’s theme was Claude Monet, where students replicated his impressionistic paintings, including “Woman with a Parasol” and “Sunrise.”

“Being able to replicate the work of a historical and famous artist and put our own twist on it was really cool,” junior Sophia Richmond says.

Eyvind Earle, the inspiration for this year’s theme, made a name for himself as the background painter of “Sleeping Beauty” and worked on other 1950s Disney animations that include “Peter Pan and “Lady and the Tramp.” As a former resident of Carmel, some of his pieces are featured in Gallery 21 in downtown Carmel.

“I think this year’s Chalk Fest will be a little bit bigger because we are trying to get the community involved,” Russell says. “I reached out to Gallery 21, which is the gallery that shows Eyvind Earle’s work, and hopefully some of the representatives of the gallery will be able to come to the Chalk Fest.”

Russell was inspired to start the Chalk Fest after an AP Instructor described the idea of the event at a training course Russell took at Chapman University. Russell hosted the Chalk Fest at Seaside High School for 10 years, and it still goes on in his absence.

“My favorite part is taking what I do inside of the classroom outside into the larger school community,” Russell says.

The event is also a competition, and by the end of the day, once all the art is done, the judges, including staff, teachers and this year possibly representatives from Gallery 21, choose the winners who are prized with bragging rights and pizza.

“The teamwork and the fact that I got to collaborate with my best friends in a competitive atmosphere about my passion, which is art, was really cool,” senior Wesley Sutton says.

Last year 40 students participated in the Chalk Fest, and there are anticipated to be 50 advanced art students that will participate this year.

“It’s super fulfilling because you work hard all day and in the end the finished product looks super cool,” senior Archer Sheldon says.

Students comment that the chalk is sometimes a challenge to use, and juniors Eva Reed and Hartley note that chalk will be everywhere from their faces to their jeans by the end of the day.

“Using chalk is really different than what I am used to using,” Reed says. “The chalk is so much bigger than any medium I’ve used before, but I like it because since it’s so big I can focus on the bigger aspects of the art rather than the small details that I have to focus on when I use pencil.”

For senior Hana Nystrom and junior Katya Fredericksen, the best part of Chalk Fest is getting to skip class to work on their masterpieces.

“Compared to working with acrylic, chalk is pretty different,” Richmond says, “because with acrylic I could go over what I’ve already done if I mess up, but with chalk you can’t go over it, so you can’t make any mistakes.”

This year’s Chalk Fest will be the same day as day of the Day of the Green and the student recognition assembly, one week before the last day of school.

-Hailey Rowe