Jan and Olivia from Fort Worth, Texas, are taking to their streets armed with chalk to create masterpieces that make all their neighbors have a brighter day.
While everyone is holed up inside, they can use every little bit of cheer they can get in order to feel more positive during the ongoing crisis. Thankfully, mother-daughter duo Jan and 13-year-old Olivia Riggins have come to their rescue. Over the past few weeks, they have taken to the pavements in their Fort Worth, Texas neighborhood with some chalk and a lot of creativity. Prior to the pandemic, they would participate in sidewalk art competitions. As those have been put on hold for the time being, they've been putting their skills to good use. The Riggins family also shares their work on Instagram.
"When all of the festivals started getting canceled or postponed, I was really disappointed," mother Jan shared in an interview. "That’s when I decided to just start using my sidewalk and driveway." At first, the mom and teen would draw koi fish across sidewalks. However, they quickly moved on to try out other animals and images. Reportedly, the neighbors "really really like" the artwork they get to bear witness to. Since they first started, Jan and Olivia have completed artworks of a butterfly, sea turtle, and even a baby Yoda. They definitely do not plan to stop there and will continue their artistic efforts as long as the lockdown remains in place.
Jan first discovered chalk art about five years ago, she revealed. She stated, "Fort Worth (where I live), started a chalk art festival and I saw a posting on Facebook asking if anyone wanted to try something new. They had an amateur division with no cost to enter. I signed up and went and met one of the professional chalk artists. He told me to get ready, it is very addictive... And it is!" In addition to chalk art, the creative momma paints in watercolor and oils. "After I won in the amateur division, I was invited to the professional division," she continued. "Last year I participated in three festivals, and my goal was to participate in six festivals this year, and in March I was accepted to another festival. But when all of the festivals started getting canceled or postponed, I was really disappointed. That’s when I decided to just start using my sidewalk and driveway."
But how did her teenage daughter get involved? Well, she was just curious about how to help! "One Sunday I drew two little pieces, and then my daughter said she wanted to help," said Jan. "I was actually a little tired by that point, but she found a reference photo she really liked and got everything set up outside, so I sketched everything out and she chalked out half and I did the other half. Then she became as addicted as me." As time went on, Olivia began taking charge of her own masterpieces. The mother revealed, "I was working from home, and she started going outside a couple of hours before I got off work to get started and began sketching out her own pieces and chalking them, some of those I helped her finish."
Now, nonetheless, Jan and Olivia are a team. The former explained, "Now we usually work together by starting out with a sketch that I usually do, and then we divide up what parts of the piece that we will each work on. She definitely pulls her weight and does about half of the piece." While they love working together, their neighbors adore their artwork even more. "Neighbors really love our work," Jan said. "We [get] requests all the time, sometimes I get messages asking what is out there now so that people can walk down and look, and even our FedEx delivery driver said that he looks forward to driving down our street to take photos of what is new. Many neighbors have asked to pay us, but we aren’t doing this for money, just to give back. Some have been insistent that they help, and we have received several gifts of pastels to replace our diminishing stock."
As for their plans for the future, sidewalk chalk art is definitely in the picture as it has helped them forge a bond with each other and their community. The duo just probably won't complete pieces as frequently as they do now. The mother shared, "We definitely want to continue this in the future... But probably not quite as often after all of this ends. I think it will definitely be for holidays and special occasions. My family has often commented that we are more connected with our neighborhood and community now, with social distancing, more than we ever were before. This has also been an experience with my daughter that I will forever be grateful for."