Q & A with Noted Street Painter Tracy Lee Stum

by Mira Reverente

The Ventura-based Stum is best known for holding the Guinness World Record of the largest street painting by an individual.

The Ventura-based Stum is best known for holding the Guinness World Record of the largest street painting by an individual.

Internationally-acclaimed 3D artist and street painter Tracy Lee Stum has another feat to add to her mile-long list of accomplishments–author.

The Art of Chalk, an inspiring book featuring the many creative and exciting applications of chalk, is slated for release on May 15th. It features the work of many local and international artists and designers, as well as some historic overview of chalk’s beginnings as an art medium.

The Ventura-based artist is best known for holding the Guinness World Record of the largest street painting by an individual. The “Da Vinci Code and The Last Supper,” a 34-feet x 17-feet, six-inch spectacle created using chalk pastel, was unveiled at the Trump Tower in New York City in 2006.

Not one to rest on her laurels or her chalk pieces, Stum travels the country and the far corners of the world showcasing her art, participating in street painting festivals and teaching workshops to promote street painting.

Read on to find out more about her latest endeavor:

Conejo Valley Happening: How did you get into chalk art and when? 
Tracy Lee Stum: I found street painting by accident when I was visiting Santa Barbara in 1997. The I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival takes place in front of the Old Mission on Memorial Day weekend every year, and I happened to be walking by that weekend. I stopped to see what was going on and was blown away by the quality of art being drawn on the pavement. I knew at that moment that I had to get involved.

Stum travels the country and the far corners of the world showcasing her art and  participating in street painting festivals.

Stum travels the country and the far corners of the world showcasing her art and participating in street painting festivals.

CVH: Who are your mentors and influencers?
TLS: My ‘mentors’ are artists from history, innovative thinkers, trail blazers and pioneers, and people who think outside the box. My current pushing-the-envelope hero is Elon Musk. I’ve always been very autonomous in my art practice. Sure, I’ve taken courses and studied, but I never really had firm connections with specific mentors for some reason. My imagination and intuition are my guides, I suppose. Art is not just about visuals, it’s a representation of everything we experience, our way of interpreting our world.

CVH: What makes chalk art so special and unique?
TLS: Chalk drawings on the pavement are unique in that they have a very short lifespan. They typically last for only a few days. Actually, they begin deteriorating as soon as the chalk goes down on the pavement. I like this ephemeral aspect of the practice. It has taught me to let go and enjoy the moment, the process of making the art more fully. Making a chalk drawing in public provides easy access to the inner workings of an artist’s heart and mind. You don’t see that every day, and I feel this is what makes it so special. It’s fragile, temporal, fleeting, yet conveys so much about the artist.

The Art of Chalk, an inspiring book featuring the many creative and exciting applications of chalk is slated for release on May 15th.

The Art of Chalk, an inspiring book featuring the many creative and exciting applications of chalk is slated for release on May 15th.

CVH: What can followers and art enthusiasts expect from your book? Any highlights, excerpts, local and international contributors you’d like to mention?
TLS: Chalk enthusiasts will find all sorts of tips, methods and approaches to making chalkboard art, pastel fine art (from portraits and landscapes to contemporary concepts) and street painting, featuring 3D works. There are how-to, step-by-step processes that are illustrated in the book to help improve skills, improve process and provide a deeper understanding of how artists actually make their images. I go into demystifying making a 3D street painting, which of course is quite popular with fans currently. Artists from across the globe have participated in the book, many with impressive resumes, who are professionals. This book is for amateurs and professionals both. It’s a guide by an artist for artists.

CVH: Where can your followers see your work next? Any local events or book signings? 
TLS: I’ll be signing books and street painting at the 30th I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival in Santa Barbara on Memorial Day weekend, from May 28 to 30.

CVH: In closing, what would you like people to know about your craft?
TLS: Street painting festivals are a great way to support ephemeral art, and they usually tie in with local non-profits to promote arts education and other such programs. They benefit the community by providing free public art for all to enjoy.

For more information or to order The Art of Chalk, visit quartoknows.com 


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