Public Art Reston’s ‘Stay-at-Home Chalk Art’ Event Kicked Off May 4th

Anne Delaney Around Town, Art & Culture

While we all should be sheltering in place and safely social distancing, our imaginations and creativity have no such constraints. These wonderfully innate capacities are able to roam free in any direction that our minds might take them. Public Art Reston, which annually presents a popular “ChalkFest at Reston Town Center,” is providing a fun way, during the month of May, to safely tap into these free-roaming talents with a “Stay-at-Home Chalk Art” virtual event.

Presented by Public Art Reston, in partnership with the Reston Community Center, Reston Association, Reston Town Center Association, Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, and Reston Historic Trust & Museum, the idea is for participants to create chalk art in their driveways or on nearby sidewalks, take a photo of their artwork and then post it each week using #AtHomeChalkArt and #PublicArtReston to be featured on a photo album on Public Art Reston’s Facebook page.  Photos (1200 x 630 pixels) of chalk drawings may also be submitted to

Kicking off officially on Monday, May 4, “Stay-at-Home Chalk Art” will take place each week in May with the final week scheduled for May 25-31 Each week will have a different theme posted on Monday on Public Art Reston’s website, Facebook page and other social media. The four themes include:

  • May 4: Fantasy – Even though we are staying home let your imagination soar & create your own fantastical creature, people, place
  • May 11: Spring into Nature
  • May 18: Favorite activities with your family
  • May 25: On Memorial Day, we celebrate military heroes, draw your favorite hero(s).

Artists of all ages and skill levels – including children, families, businesses, and organizations — are welcome to participate. Simply find a safe place to chalk (driveways, sidewalks, traffic free pavement) to join in this virtual shared art-making event.

Although we cannot physically be together, for the time being, we can all safely connect and be united by creating art in public places, using our driveways and sidewalks as our canvas.  


  • All are invited to contribute their artwork to this free #AtHomeChalkArt event (including kids, adults, businesses & community organizations) 
    • Event starts on Monday, May 4th with weekly themes announced through the end of May 
    • Each week, we will post a theme to inspire you and will share your creations when you like/follow our page (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) and tag #AtHomeChalkArt and #PublicArtReston when you share your art!
    • You may also submit your photo (1200 x 630 pixels) to
    • Submit one drawing per week  
    • Take a photo while the artwork is looking its best! 
  • Please ensure that you are using a safe space to chalk and that children are supervised.
  • Chalk art can include not only chalk, but other props or items to enhance designs.  Be creative!
  • Artwork must be suitable for public and family viewing (no nude or lewd work). No inappropriate words or symbols may appear within the artwork to be posted.
  • Public Art Reston and its partners Reston Community Center, Reston Association, Reston Town Center Association, Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, and Reston Historic Trust & Museum reserve the right to refuse objectionable material from posts. 
  • If you are reproducing an image originally created by another artist (living or deceased), it is important to credit the original artist and the title of the work.
  • Public Art Reston and its partners will use photos with the hashtag of artworks and artists.


  • Participants will supply their own chalks – water-based, environmentally friendly products are recommended.
  • Chalks are available through Amazon (consider donating to Public Art Reston through Amazon Smile when you make a purchase), JoAnne’s, Michaels, and other online craft and art supply sites. Many offer  curbside pick-up. Or may make your own chalk. 


  • Wisk broom or brushes for cleaning the drawing surface before you start. Do not blow dust particles.
  • Umbrellas, sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, etc. to guard against the hot sun.
  • Plastic to cover your artwork in case of rain.
  • Water and a cloth or sponge to erase unwanted parts of your design.
  • Old towels or rags to clean up as necessary.
  • Straight edge, masking tape or “snap” tool for creating sharp borders or geometry.
  • Something to sit or stand on to avoid smearing your work such as a pillow, gardener’s pad, knee pads or yoga mat to kneel on.
  • A chalkboard eraser, foam, terry cloth or short-cut brushes for blending larger areas of color.
  • Camera to take photos of your creation!


The following tips are suggestions to help you:

  • If reproducing an image originally created by another artist (living or deceased), it is important to credit the original artist and the title at the base of your drawing.
  • Make a preliminary drawing to guide your artwork or print a color photocopy of an image to be copied. Make several copies if more than one artist will be working on the piece.
  • If you want your proportions to be correct, you might consider drawing a grid over the drawing/photocopies using a ruler and thin marker. You can layout a corresponding grid on the asphalt. An example is half-inch squares on the picture to 6-inch squares on the asphalt. Mount photocopies on cardboard to make them easier to work with. A carpenter’s chalk line is ideal for this.
  • Use chalk sparingly. Build up your layers, starting with a very light layer on the bottom. Some artists prefer to lay all of their base layer first. Some prefer to work top to bottom. We recommend outlining all of your major elements first.
  • Fill in the details of the image using various shades of colored chalk. Continue to blend colors to gain the right effect. Leave some chalk color unblended on the surface of the concrete to bring out colors, highlights and details.
  • A big chalkboard eraser works great for laying down large areas of color. Moving the eraser in a circular motion works best.
  • Do not blow or fan excess chalk into the air. It will dull your colors, and chalk dust is not good to breathe.
  • To get intense color, apply the chalk more than once (the first time fills in cracks and crevices) and bear down hard. The second time is to let the chalk powder rest on the top of the bumps. Then donʼt touch it anymore!
  • First-timers should consider using one object as the focal point of your artwork – a face, a frog, etc. Small details are difficult to manage on a rough surface — so think BIG & DRAMATIC.
  • The more you work with chalk on concrete, the more comfortable you will become. 
  • If you are reproducing an image originally created by another artist (living or deceased), it is important to credit the original artist and the title of the work.
  • Be sure to protect your artwork if you are not finished and in case of rain.
  • Tips to clean sidewalk chalk from concrete:
    • Spray down the chalk artwork with water from a garden hose. If no hose is accessible, douse the area with a bucket of water.
    • Brush the chalk areas vigorously with the stiff bristle brush. Rinse the area with a hose or bucket of water.
    • Rub any remaining chalk with a sponge and mildly abrasive liquid detergent. Switch to the scrub brush if the chalk still seems hard to remove.
    • Rinse away all of the suds and chalky water with a hose or bucket. Allow the concrete to air-dry.

About Public Art Reston

Public Art Reston was founded in 2007 by Reston civic and community organizations and leaders. It is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that imagines public art throughout Reston that inspires the community and engages the mind and senses. For more information about Public Art Reston, visit