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Well that was a trip. Guinness World Record for the largest chalk street art by one artist. Done…! We sent in the official documents and photography / video evidence.
Here is some media PR for the entire project.
Guinness World Record Attempt: Largest Chalk Street Drawing by One Artist. April 19-24, 2021 (45 hours). We are waiting for 2-3 months to officially hear from GWR.
Initial PR about event: MLW and the Global Challenge
Earth Day April 22, artist Mark Lewis Wagner will be attempting his 2nd Guinness World Record, this time for the Largest Chalk Street Drawing by One Artist. At the same time the nonprofit Drawing on Earth is inviting you and everyone to set your own world record with any creative act. Join us in telling a global story where we; imagine a world creating together, imagine a changed climate, imagine the future as a healthy balanced place for everyone and everything, and make create beauty. What the world needs is more beauty. For more info:
  • In 1994 a college art buddy and extra ordinary artist Phil Roberts invited me to help him with the featured chalk drawing at the I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival in Santa Barbara, CA, the oldest chalk drawing festival in the US. We worked on a 12 x 20 ft copy of a Michelangelo. I was enchanted by working on the street, and that it was performance and community art with the festival attracting hundreds of other artist and thousands of people.
  • My kids were then in an elementary school that had NO art teacher. I created an artist-in-residence and was the art teacher for a year and was deeply moved by the kid’s creativity. Once a year I created an all-school chalk drawing day.
  • I had a vision of making a big chalk drawing in 2003 and in 2008 our first Guinness World Record was created by kids and the community.
  • The nonprofit Drawing on Earth was created. We connect art and creativity to youth and communities around the world. We have worked with 30,000 kids and drawn on 3 continents – so far!
Chalk Drawing Site
For 10 years I had my eyes on a big chalk drawing area. The site was on the decommissioned Naval Air Base on the island of Alameda CA, just off the coast of Oakland in the San Francisco Bay Area. I even once had the idea of creating the first Chalk Drawing Park. Over time the soccer club took over the site, they refenced and resurfaced ¼ of the area for a Futsal soccer court. I had lost the opportunity to use the site and chalked it off as “you snooze, you loose!” Another reason I didn’t make it happen was that I didn’t really have a reason big enough to do this as a solo artist. My ego wasn’t that big, I couldn’t figure a way to connect it to kids, schools, and the community, and Drawing on Earth was busy with other corporate events and a 2-year project working with 30 elementary school with a nearby school district.
And then there was Covid… and the world was a different place.
Earth Day Creative Challenge
For several years on Earth Day I was at the Oakland Zoo creating community chalk drawings. Covid closed down the Zoo and I had the idea of creating a chalk drawing for the Zoo at my studio where I drew a 12 m (40 ft.) Mountian Lion. I wanted to include others somehow since we were all in lockdown and had the idea of a Creative Challenge where I invited kids and adults to join in and create something on their own for Earth Day.
Guinness World Record
The current GWR for the largest chalk street art is 167 m2 (1,800 sq. ft.), My chalk drawing area is 1719 m2 (18,500 ft2).
Global Creative Challenge
In Nov. of 2020 I drove past the Futsal court and my intuitive voice said “hey, guess what, no one is using the courts, it’s still covid and it could be a perfect time to create a monster chalk drawing. And what about a Global Creative Challenge? Invite everyone to join in on Earth Day to make some art together, set our own record along with me, be part of something creative and big that continues to create community, draw in the dirt, snow, on your driveway, dance, write a poem, sing a song, use any medium. Imagining the future and creating beauty was the theme.
Bigger Picture
The present time of covid isolation and talk of climate change are hard on everyone, and it’s especially hard on our youth. They are afraid of something they can’t see, afraid of their future, afraid for the world that they are inheriting. Adults saying, “we sure did leave you a mess, you young people figure it out,” is not helpful. That’s a heavy burden, suicides are up with kids around the world for not having a reason to live – that’s OUR PROBLEM, it’s everyone’s problem to creatively solve. The Earth needs humans to grow up, or grow in, another word for this is Initiation. The Earth needs humans to evolve out of their current teenager mind and into mature beings who take responsibility for ourselves, for each other, our communities, and the world.
The Chalk Drawing
In Dec. 2020 I applied to GWR. I created a team for support, PR and marketing, and a site production manager. Drawing on Earth for the first time had two artists take our Earth Day Creative Challenge to their towns, one being in Paradise CA where a mega fire burned a town and killed 80 some people. This kind of immediate art where community interacts is powerful, healing, and positive making. Since this drawing was by one artist there were a lot less logistics and less expenses. Guinness World Record wanted had requirements like a list of witnesses reporting that I worked alone, a licensed surveyor to correctly measure the drawing, close up and full-scale photos and videos. Drawing on Earth networked the Global Challenge, we had school districts, children’s museums, friends and families, and even connections to the UN and UNESCO.
We paid to slurry coat a thin black asphalt covering over the entire drawing area which gave me a nice blank canvas to work on – and that was extra hot in the sun which had me worried. My other worry was that my 60 yr. old body was take a beating on my knees, lower back, and wrists – in the end I only had to take ibuprofen once. And the weather was in my favor, it was overcast, breezy, and cool so wearing layers and working kept me warm.
Techniques and Materials
For the GWR everything needed to be chalk that was commercially available, in case someone else wanted to beat my record. I created a technique using a garden hand-pumped sprayer that had powdered chalk that contractors use for chalk lines mixed with water. This technique was how I was able to underpaint most of the surface. I worked this way the first 3 days. The problem was that my colors were limited. Another fun thing I tried was to have several animals and objects in anamorphic perspective for people visiting the site and walking on the art – by its scale it was impossible to see the whole drawing with being up in the art. These figures were all drawn on the Earth with modern cities on the curved horizon. We did print poster size images from our drone camera that we had at the public opening on the last day.
One the first night I had a power generate (no electricity near), projector, and laptop. I projected a polar bear, buffalo/bison, little bird, a prehistoric goddess sculpture, rhino, and dinosaur. When you stand on one place (where the projection originated) the animals appeared to be standing up off the street surface. Anamorphic perspective is a forced perspective pinpointing the exact location of the viewer. Many of my world class chalk drawing artist friends do this in such an amazing way – see Tracy Stum and Kurt Wenner.
I worked for about 8 hours a day. My team was awesome, people brought 4 warm handmade meals. Fortunately for me the house where I was staying was only 10 minutes away, perfect for an afternoon nap and a short very tired drive at night. And my dog Karma, a 10 month old Pit/Weimaraner, loved being in a fenced in area was in heaven as she chased the drone camera about.
The last 3 days was the details, drawing and coloring in smaller areas.
The Design
The title of the art is “The Creative Spirit Blessing the Earth.” I have a sense that it is our human creativity and imagination that are our biggest assets for everyone and everything living on the Earth for a dynamic balance into the future. That’s why I work with kids; they are our best investment for the future so let’s nurture them creatively when they are young so they grow up being alive and connected to everything. In the middle of the drawing is a 2D figure, inspired by the extinct Mimbres Native American Indian designs from the southwest USA. The figure is holding an artist’s pallet with one hand, rays of light outreached to the Earth while the other arm is a circle/shield that is wind powered. The 23m (75ft) spirit bird is solar powered. There is a butterfly, lizard, flower, and a row of elephants and their shadows only able to be seen from above. This diagonal design movement is what I called the Creative Spirit, it’s like an eternal divine energy available to anyone all the time.
Over to the other side of the Earth is a 3D geometric structure also drawn anamorphically with its perspective point converging into the center of the Earth, same place as the figures. I like how this turned out, like how clearly it reads in aerial photos. To be truthful I still struggle with the design, I keep working on the design up to the last minute knowing it still didn’t totally work and OK with that knowing I was working in territory that was unknown to be working so big, needing to be able to be completed on time using the materials I had. In hindsight I would of repeated how the butterfly turned out, used more black in each element adding more contrast. Live and learn – next time! We did do a beautiful ceremony at the end of the public opening, we all stood on the geometrical area and spoke out loud “bad ideas” we wanted to leave the planet, like racism, inequality, and patriarchy. I spoke about violence towards women and indigenous people.
It did rain, the day after the event was over. The chalk basically stayed put, it go wet, then dried. It will be there for several months.
Drawing on Earth
Is a 501(c)3 nonprofit. Our mission is to Connect Art and Creativity to Youth and Communities around the World. Founded by Mark Lewis Wagner in 2010 Drawing on Earth has worked with 30,000 kids and drawn on 3 continents. Our first project that set a Guinness World Record for the largest pavement art (chalk drawing). We covered 8361 m2 (90,000 ft2) with the help of 6,000 people, most of the elementary school kids from Alameda CA. A satellite took a photograph of our art from 423 miles in space.
Bio: Mark Lewis Wagner, MA
Mark is a traditional and digital artist, graphic designer, concept artist, street painter, author, and educator. Clients include Pixar/Disney, Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, SpaceX, Target, Samsung, PG&E. Wagner has taught art and creativity in graduate school, state prison, elementary school, and currently teaching online college art courses. He has created 5 pieces of art that have been photographed by satellite. He is currently working on a sci-fi / fantasy graphic novel about Art and War.

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