DIY: How to Create a Keith Haring Chalk Sidewalk Mural

Posted by Yasha Wallin




Artist Keith Haring was well known for his work outdoors, coloring New York City and beyond with his iconic murals and chalk drawings, and transforming public spaces with a visual language all his own. Though simple in form, Haring's symbolism was complex, and he touched on everything from birth and death, to sex and war, through minimal line drawings. Haring was also deeply community minded, working collaboratively with schools and hospitals, and donating a good deal of his work to charities, orphanages, etc.

He died at 31 in 1990 of AIDs related complications, but his spirit lives on, especially as his work continues to tour in galleries and museums, and his murals can still be seen around the world. In the artist's tradition of beautifying public spaces, here's a guide to making your own (legal) Keith Haring-inspired chalk art outside, just in time for Neighborday. So if you don't have a plan yet for April 27, grab a couple of your neighbors, a few sticks of chalk, and a sidewalk near you to give your hood some character. Following are a few simple steps on how to:

Materials needed:
Large sticks of colored chalk
Scratch pieces of paper and a pencil
Printed Haring images for inspiration (find online)
Friends and neighbors
A sidewalk or street

First, gather some images of Keith Haring's work online, or in books (or just bookmark this article).

Then, study these visuals to get an idea of Haring's style, and how you can use it as inspiration to create your own interpretation.

Next, using your scratch pieces of paper and pencil sketch a few figures to get the hang of recreating Haring's symbolism when you finally take to the sidewalk. Practice enough times that you feel comfortable with the imagery, because you'll soon be creating the characters much, much bigger.

Pick out a few colors of chalk you want to work with. Haring used a lot with primary colors, but this is your own project, so go crazy.

Find a large area of street, sidewalk or wall that will give you enough room to draw a few figures.

Next, take your white stick of chalk and either sketch from memory or print out a few of Haring's characters. Better yet, get your friend or neighbor to lay down in a creative posture and trace their shape to create an outline.

Now comes the fun part. Once you have a few figures outlined, take your colored chalk and fill in the characters.

Haring often placed little icons in his figures, so you can choose to put little symbols in the center of their bellies using white chalk.

Next, make some random shaped, dash-like marks around your figures to give the feeling of playfulness like Haring did.

Outline anything in white again to give it some real contrast, and you're done.

Enjoy your creation and get your neighbors outside to marvel!