Santa Clara couple Wayne and Cheryl Renshaw attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo about 30 years ago. Taking art classes together, the two met and fell in love. Today Wayne Renshaw, an architect, and Cheryl Renshaw, a landscape designer, are artists by hobby who specialize in creating stunning chalk art paintings as a team. Gathering inspiration from reviewing thousands of photographs they take of people and objects, the Renshaws travel around the country to create 3D chalk art paintings. Their unique art seems to sit right up when viewed from a certain angle. Works they have created include a scene of children feasting on juicy watermelon in Venice, Florida and a young astronaut planting the American flag on the moon in Marietta, Georgia.
“We’ve been doing chalk art for 16 years,” Cheryl Renshaw says. “People often ask us how we come up with our ideas and our joke is that we fight about it. But it’s a well-behaved fight.”
“We’re always looking for that germ of an idea,” Wayne Renshaw says. “We’d see an inflatable ducky at the top of a children’s museum and we’d think, what can I do with that? What if we have someone riding the rubber ducky? What if it became a rodeo rubber ducky? What if we have a rodeo rubber ducky with a lasso? And then Cheryl would say no, how about a rubber ducky in the navy instead. It becomes a brainstorming session.”
In 2014, the Renshaws created an elaborate chalk art painting called “Tiger Trap” at the Palo Alto Art & Wine Festival. The germ of this idea involved a stick in a box.
“We had a plan of having the stick holding up the box as a trap to fall on something that comes along,” Wayne Renshaw says. “We decided to make a tiger trap. The first Calvin and Hobbes cartoon showed Calvin baiting his tiger trap with a tuna fish sandwich. So that became the basis for our illustration. We did our box in a stick. We went to Noah’s Bagels and asked them to make us a perfect tuna fish sandwich. We got Cheryl’s cousin to pose as Calvin. We put him in a red and blue striped shirt just like Calvin and we took his picture as he held the rope ready to spring the trap. To that, we added the tiger coming along to take the bait. We illustrated this as a 3D image and you could sit in front of the image and pretend to be part of it.”
Even though chalk art eventually fades away or gets washed off by rain, the Renshaws find the value of such artistic ventures in the creative process.
“I think of this as a performance,” Cheryl Renshaw says. “If you go to a play, you don’t get to take the actors home. The process of making this art is really in a way an art itself.”