When I got this hair-brained idea to do a 3 day Chalk Drawing Story Hunt on the streets of Downtown Portland, Oregon, I really wasn't prepared for everything I encountered and all the freaky things I discovered. I had 3 objective:
- Have tons of fun drawing
- Build relationships with art collectors who loved the kind of magical art I created
- Give people an incredible, magical, art experience like no other before
Those things happened in a small part. Yes, I did like the challenge of drawing a whole story on the streets in chalk. Yes, I ended up meeting some great folks who seemed to really appreciate all my hard work and with whom I'm sure we'll continue to build an awesome relationship. And yes, I did give folks an amazing, chalk art scavenger hunt that surprised them and made them happy. But what happened in big doses and what I didn't expect were these 5 freaky things:
- Homeless folks will come up to you and tell you their whole tragic, and scary life stories. One lady yelled and screamed her head off, like she was reliving a harrowing sexual assault. I wondered if it was some kind of post-traumatic, stress disorder. Another man, kept telling me how his belongings and ID were stolen from him by people he trusted. He repeated that story about 20 times before he left me alone, but not before he got confused and asked me to give him back his things. The first two days that kind of thing happened which really shook me up and left me emotionally drained. I was very happy when I was not accosted on the third day.
- Nicer neighborhoods and businesses will power wash away your art (even if the event I created brought in more clients to them). That was something I didn't know was a possibility. I didn't want it to happen. If my drawings were erased, then there would have been no chalk drawing story hunt. No one would be able to follow and find anything. It scared and worried me. Fortunately, the nice building manager told me he'd power wash away my art if I drew near his building and he advised me to draw across the street. I made sure I didn't draw near any nice buildings after that.
- It's hard to find a place to go pee when you're drawing on the streets for 7 hours. That was tricky to figure out. On the first day, when I was closer to my own neighborhood, I just took a break and walked back home. On the other days, I had to find public restrooms. Sometimes, I asked businesses to let me use their facilities. Sometimes, they let me and sometimes, they didn't.
- Sitting and drawing on the street makes your muscles and body sore. I work out almost every day so I didn't know that bending, kneeling, hunching forward, getting up and down, up and down would make my body ache after 7 hours per day. Gardeners do similar things and are prepared for it. I had no idea.
- Even with red arrows, it's hard to follow a chalk drawing story hunt. I really believed this story hunt would be a cinch. There wouldn't be any challenge with red arrows pointing you on your way to the chalk drawings. I was wrong. Fortunately, people could post what was happening on the Facebook event page and I could try to streamline the whole thing as it was happening. I went back and drew more arrows. I made them brighter and bolder. Still, there were some folks who couldn't find those red arrows to lead them along the way.
Most people really enjoyed the event. I have no idea how many people participated. I thought they'd come to the after party, but not many people made it. I created little packages for them with the story and drawings along with some, fun surprises. There were great donations from sponsors and even cheesecake. For whatever reason, those things were not enough to bring in a crowd. I did enjoy meeting and hearing the experience of the folks who came. We laughed a lot and they asked me a lot of questions about how the whole thing came about.
I still have a few packages left. If you'd like one, please email me (melicious1900(at)gmail(dot)com) your name and mailing address and I'll send you some fun surprises from my Chalk Drawing Story Hunt. You'll learn the crazy story of the Mermaid and the Devil which my newsletter subscribers helped me create.
Would you like to read the whole Mermaid Chalk Drawing Story along with the photos together in an easy to read & printable PDF? Your wish is my command. Get the PDF at this link.