Kim Egan had purchased the 12-pack of sidewalk chalk on a whim.
“I was at the Dollar Tree in Newmarket, where I always go for arts and crafts supplies,” said Egan. “They were being sold for only $1.25. It was very much a spur of the moment thing.”
Chalk in hand, Egan had walked to Newmarket’s Haskett Park and had found a secluded stretch of pavement on which to draw. Her Victorian-inspired artwork, a brightly coloured vase of flowers, was finished 14 hours later.
The experience, she said, took her completely by surprise.
“I suffer from anxiety and depression, something that’s been especially challenging for me — and a lot of people — during the pandemic,” said Egan. “But art, drawing, was therapy. It helped me relax and forget my problems.”
Egan again returned to chalk art when her grandmother, Rose, tragically suffered a stroke mid-August. Already stressed from the isolation of quarantine and unable to visit her due to strict post-COVID-19 hospital restrictions, Egan’s mental health was struggling.
To help ease some of her anxiety, Egan took to the pavement outside her Davis Drive apartment and designed a special homage to her grandmother. Throughout the painful few days preceding Rose’s passing, working on the drawing gave Egan a small — but much needed — sense of control.
“The artwork I drew for her was a big pink heart that said ‘Rose’ in it, with roses on either side and a crown, flames, and cross atop it,” said Egan. “I came to learn afterwards that what I drew is actually a religious symbol, representing Christ’s heart. It was odd, because I didn’t know it at the time.”
Egan’s latest chalk drawing, a floral scene inspired by her love for nature, can currently be seen on the outdoor stage at Riverwalk Commons. As rain and wind can wash her art away in minutes, the stage’s overhead awning afforded Egan rare protection from September’s wet weather.
Yet despite the unique challenges her chalk art can bring, from being at the whim of the elements to scraped and sore knees, Egan is confident she’ll stick with it. A lifelong art lover, she has dabbled in mediums as wide-ranging as embroidery, handmade jewelry, flower pressing, painting and more. With chalk art, the most committing of the bunch, she just may have found her calling.
“When I was a kid, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say an artist,” said Egan. “Art is something I’ve always been so passionate about. And now, late in my life, I have a burning desire to explore my creativity more. It’s something I have to do, before I die.”
Apart from using chalk art as a personal source of happiness, Egan is also hopeful that its positivity will spread.
“I hope people get some pleasure or happiness from seeing it. I hope it’s a bright spot in their day. It’s been great sharing my creativity with others.”
Egan is happy to report that the reaction to her artwork has, so far, been overwhelmingly positive. With each drawing, she’s gained the courage to venture out more and more into the public eye.
“Because I’m out there drawing for a few days, I get people out for walks who will stop to talk and take pictures,” said Egan. “They’re very encouraging. It’s been nice.”