Chalk Pastels: A Brief History

Chalk Pastels are “manufactured from a carefully balanced mix of pigment, a filler such as chalk or clay, and a binder, then shaped into sticks and dried.” NGA

The Fine Arts

The history of Chalk Pastels begins during the 16th Century. Chalk Pastels were used by Renaissance Artists to complete preliminary drawings in preparation for larger paintings and frescoes. 

It wasn’t until the 18th Century however that Chalk Pastels gained in popularity. Many female Artists, notably Rosalba Carriera (self-portrait pictured below), became renowned for their Chalk Pastel portraiture. 

Rosalba Carriera Self Portrait

The popularity of this medium was short lived and despite the efforts of many Artists and collectors throughout history, Chalk Pastels have remained out of favour in the academic art world, largely due to its lingering feminine associations.

The I-Madonnari


During the 16th Century chalking the streets also began in Italy.  Known as the I-Madonnari, or in other countries Screevers, these performance street Artists would travel the nation working on commissioned monuments for the church. 

When these monuments were complete, the Artists found other ways to earn a living by recreating their artworks from the church onto the pavement.

The yearly I-Madonnari Arts Festival in Italy, which first began in 1987, continues this Renaissance tradition. 

Here in Australia, similar festivals have been held each year around the nation since 2005.

The Chalkboard

During the early 19th Century, the chalkboard became a popular writing material in schools and revolutionalised the way teachers now communicate with their students.

However, it’s popularity was short lived and was phased out from the 1970’s due to the invention of the whiteboard. 

Four Blackboards 1972 Joseph Beuys

At the same time, Joseph Beuys explored the chalkboard at the deepest level of conceptual art. His artworks (pictured above) have been collected by National Galleries around the world.

In more modern times, the chalkboard has become a popular form of retro signage and is a unique and artistic way for businesses to advertise to their customers.

Creative Industries Recovery Forum: 2022 Lismore Floods

The Book of Proceedings for the July 2022 Creative Industries Recovery Forum came out this week! You can find my Topic, by Amy Scott-Young, on page 44!

My submission “Emergence – Emerging Artist Run Exhibitions & Mentoring” was based on the following:

Emerging artists are the next generation of arts professionals.  And yet, research shows that almost half of the students studying Visual Arts move into non-arts industries after graduation. 

There is evidence to suggest that the best way to keep graduating artists in the Creative Industries is to give them a definite goal to work towards after graduation.  This goal must consider the fact that emerging artists lack the financial support necessary to make their work sustainable.

Emerging artist run exhibitions that provide a financial incentive as well as opportunities for mentoring and networking have been the most successful initiatives in keeping graduating students within the Creative Industries.

Amy Scott-Young (Amy.B)

I first shared my Topic with over 200 people and then led a group discussion to help generate a list of actionable ideas. The group discussion was a huge success and I was able to submit a well thought out Topic that advocates for the Emerging Artists in our region.

Some amazing ideas were put forth and it was a great learning experience sitting in on Topics led by local Artists and patrons of the Arts, all from a diverse range of backgrounds, ages and career stages.

Arts Northern Rivers describes the event as follows:

“Creative industries from across the Northern Rivers region gathered in July to lay the foundations for a sector-led approach to recovery following the recent flood disaster. Delivered by Arts Northern Rivers, the Forum addressed impacts of isolation, creative business atrophy and positive regional futures. With many creatives asking the question; “where to now?”, this Forum aimed to bring the creative community together, revitalise cohorts and networks and support the Northern Rivers on its path towards a thriving future.”

The 2022 Lismore Flood was a disastrous weather event like no other and I can’t wait to see how our Northern Rivers Creative Industries are nurtured back to full health – it certainly is an enormous task!

If you’d like to read more about the crisis that flood affected Artists are now facing in the Northern Rivers, the Sydney Morning Herald published a great article on 5 August 2022: “Galleries without walls, venues without stages: The crisis facing Lismore’s artists” by Linda Morris.