The first time Scott Gillies attempted to create a piece of art from chalk in public, he admits it looked odd to most people.
It was in 2006 when the Edmonton Oilers went to the Stanley Cup finals against the Carolina Hurricanes. Gillies was on his hands and knees, using chalk to draw the Stanley Cup on the pavement next to Northlands Coliseum (now Rexall place).
But with chalk art, the viewer has to be standing at a certain vantage point or must take a photo and view it before they can understand what the picture is.
“Ninety-nine per cent of people who walked by it, walked by it from the side and it just looked like a big distorted smear. Almost nobody understood what I was doing,” laughed the 37-year-old Greater Victoria resident. “It’s not something people would expect an adult to be doing — chalk art on the ground.”
Gillies’ experience with chalk art has been a long journey, since he first discovered the art form a decade ago. At the time, he wasn’t familiar with the process of creating it and there wasn’t much information on chalk art on the Internet, so Gillies decided to wing it.
He put an empty picture frame on a tripod and put strings on it to make a grid. Then he would draw a chalk line on the ground and come back and see where the next line would draw up and would continue the process until he created the perfect grid.
Since then, Gillies has perfected the art form and has created roughly a dozen pieces of work from chalk on sidewalks.
In the past, he has created images of a rocky coast with a lighthouse, a humpback whale jumping out of the water, and a frog riding an elephant.
“I just find it really rewarding to be able to bring something to life that starts as an idea. Bringing it to life really just allows you to share that idea,” Gillies said.
Gillies is one of roughly 35 chalk artists who will be participating in the Victoria International Chalk Art Festival in downtown Victoria this weekend.
As part of the fourth-annual event, chalk artists from around the world, including Mexico, the Netherlands, Alberta and the Lower Mainland, will be on their hands and knees creating works of art over a two-day period. This year’s theme is adventure in the forest world: a celebration of nature’s spirits. Gillies will be paying tribute to Juno, the NASA spacecraft that just completed the closest flyby of Jupiter recently. He’ll be creating a 3D drawing of jupiter with Juno in the foreground.
While the event has traditionally been held along Government Street, this year, artists will be relocated to Ship Point — both in the main parking lot and the pier.
“It really is a giant art gallery outdoors,” said event organizer John Vickers. “We’re looking forward to settling into our new venue and hope people come down and have a great weekend.”
The Victoria International Chalk Art Festival takes place Sept. 10 to 11. For more information visit victoriachalkfestival.com.