Local artist Todd Chalk and one of her award-winning works
Image courtesy of Todd Chalk
“The value of art in our world is probably the more joyful side of our lives,” says Todd Chalk. For more than forty years, Chalk has been bringing beauty and imagination, along with joy, to everyone who has experienced her work.
“Years and years ago, I was a beautician for a short while,” she shares. But her real love is creating art. “It is my life!”
She works with both acrylics and watercolors and mainly does mixed media collage.
Chalk’s career as an artist had an auspicious start. “My husband was very supportive of my being an artist,” she says. He bought her a paint-by-number set. As Chalk recalls, “I could not stay in the lines, and I thought, ‘I guess I’m talented, because I can’t stay in the lines!’”
Living in St. Louis at the time, Chalk told her husband she was going to take art education classes. She soon realized she “could draw about as well as the teacher.”
Chalk says she wanted to do portraits. After attending an art show held by the artist George Palmer, who is known for portraiture, she says she called him to take a class. She studied with Palmer for four and a half years. She also did portraits for about ten years, sketching at fairs and country clubs.
Eventually, when she was in her forties, Chalk wound up at the University at Buffalo. “I'm like a kid in a candy store,” she says. A “straight-A student,” she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fine art. She also earned a teaching certificate. “You only did as well as you demanded of yourself,” she notes. “You had to work hard.”
Chalk says she became “very serious about doing shows and teaching, probably in the late 1970s.” She taught drawing at ECC North for three and a half years. Although she had taught privately since then, she recently decided to give up teaching. However, she still does demonstrations and workshops. Her studio is in the basement of her Williamsville home.
Chalk describes herself mainly as an abstract painter. She also refers to herself as an “accidental painter.” Sometimes, she says, she has no idea where she is going. “I will put down a color,” she says. “My canvas tells me where I want to go.
“I almost always start from real, and then I abstract it,” Chalk explains. “I seem to not have that much trouble doing it. I really love abstract work. In doing it, I’ve learned more and pushed myself more.” Currently, she is working her way back to semi abstract, “something softer” than what she’s been doing.
Chalk says that she was “very influenced by things I’ve seen and done–mountains, oceans, things I was exposed to.” She wants people to experience the same feelings through her work.
While Chalk realizes that some people may not connect with the art when they go to a show, when it happens, it’s great. “When they connect with your art, it is a nice thing to happen; you’ve got a buddy in the art world.”
Chalk has shown her work extensively throughout the United States and has recently exhibited in an international show in Pennsylvania. She also had a retro exhibit at Fox Run in Orchard Park. She exhibits with the Buffalo Society of Artists, the Niagara Frontier Watercolors Society, and at River Art Gallery.
“I’ve showed at my ‘milk route’ – Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati,” she notes. “It was like I dropped off paintings here and there.”
Her paintings are for sale and are displayed at offices and businesses throughout the region. “I sell and am in lots and lots of companies here and down through Ohio, and lots of different places in the United States.”
Born in 1929, Chalk says, “Artists never retire! I’m knocking on the door at a bigger number!”
To learn more about local artists, including Chalk, visit buffalosocietyofartists.org and click on “videos.”
Judith A. Rucki is a public relations consultant and freelance writer.