BUDDING artists have the opportunity to work with Australia's top chalk artist Jenny McCracken at this year's Maroondah Festival.
Locals are invited to enter a sketch or design that they believe best fits this year's festival theme — local heroes. The winning design will then be reworked by the award-winning chalk artist onto a large paved area at the festival.
McCracken says she is looking forward to the festival.
"It's not so much a workshop; it's more just about having fun with chalk art."
The two-time Australian chalk art champion has been in the caper for 25 years and wants to build its popularity in Australia.
"I started doing pavement art in Sydney in the late 1980s after decorating chalkboards for pubs and restaurants," she says.
"My first 3-D sketch was of a hole in the ground with several characters climbing out. They are incredibly complex. The one I finished the other day (pictured) took me five to six days."
McCracken's love for this form of art means she must use public space — like pavements — as her canvas, a task that's not always easy.
"We can't cover our work, so when it rains there is the potential for it to be washed away. A bit of hairspray usually does the trick though."
It is also a gruelling activity, and she points to a competition in Italy — the unofficial 'Olympics of chalk art' — that brought competitors to the edge.
"We had to work for 24 hours straight. It wasn't just a test of artistic flair but also of fitness and stamina."
McCracken won a gold medal at this 40-year-old competition, confirming her status as Australia's, and one of the world's, premier chalk artists.
"I was lauded as the only Australian at the competition but I think I'm the only one crazy enough to do it," she chuckles.
■ To enter the competition and be in the running to have your sketch chosen for the community art project, call the Maroondah Festival office on 9294 5604 or visit maroondahfestival.com, fill out the entry form and return it along with your sketch by Friday, October 19.