The Art Medium Chalk

A white form of limestone, chalk is a well-known art medium. Artists use it to create works of chalk art, but chalk is also an ingredient in pastels, another prominent art medium favored by artists. In fashion, chalk has been used for centuries by designers and tailors for making markings on fabric. While it has many other uses outside of the art world, it is quite renowned for its use in schools or as a child’s art medium. Some artists also carve chalk to create unique objects or tools.

Chalk is an old medium and has been used for drawing for centuries. As a readily available natural material, it was even used by prehistoric peoples to art. Artists can use a variety of techniques to create art with chalk. They can apply it to dry paper, for example, but also smudge and blend it to create various effects. Historically, white chalk was used in conjunction with other types of drawing media to highlight an element of the work or enhance it in some particular way. Aside from white chalk, many artists also favored black and red chalk for drawing purposes. Today, chalk is produced in a full range of colors.

While the earliest known works of chalk art date to the Stone Age, the medium was particularly popular during the 15th century and was favored by such artists as Jean Clouet. He used a combination of black, red, and white chalk to create many drawings. Of course, artists like Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael, and even Rembrandt also used chalk to sketch and create art. Many artists employed chalk to make preliminary drawings of works. Rubens famously used red chalk to sketch out his ideas for compositions. Even later artists like Degas, Matisse, and Picasso employed chalk to sketch ideas or to add effects to their artworks.

As an ingredient, chalk was essential to the production of pastels. The earliest use of pastels dates to the Renaissance. Pastels are formed into colored sticks made up of a binder and a pure powdered pigment. Today there are various types of pastels, but dry pastels have invariably featured chalk as an ingredient. Da Vinci was one of the earliest artists to have mentioned the use of pastels. Like chalk, the pastel medium is associated with its own techniques. Many artists employ them in conjunction with other art mediums in order to highlight elements of the work. Both chalk and pastels are still immensely popular as art mediums today.