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Chalk it up: Edmonton artist spreading playoff cheer with driveway art

An Edmonton chalk artist is using her talents to celebrate the Oilers’ playoff run.

Tara Strohschein started doing chalk art for her kids when they were young.

“They absolutely love it, they always want pictures with it, they will try to draw their own drawings as well as they can to match it,” Strohschein said.

Last year, while dealing with a chronic illness, she got back into the hobby.

“I started doing some Disney characters, some animals and Pokémon, and kids would come by in the neighbourhood and request characters that they saw,” Strohschein said.

Strohschein has been a fan of the Edmonton Oilers since 2008 when she came to Edmonton.

“Unfortunately, when I moved out here, it was right in the middle, the beginning of the decade of darkness,” Strohschein said. “Something about it, the fandom in the city and the excitement that they would have, I just loved it.”

Her family loves the energy that the playoffs bring to the city and she wanted to use her skills to contribute.

“It’s just something I’ve always enjoyed,” Strohschein said. “I sucked at art in high school, but for some reason I can do chalk.

“I am really good at proportioning, looking at a photo and just drawing it out. I usually start in the centre and move outwards.”

The pieces aren’t quick to make either, some take anywhere from one to three hours.

“Usually, I draw out the whole outline of the character first and then we dive in with the colours,” Strohschein said.

“Sometimes I use water to spread out the chalk a little bit more into the crevices of the driveway and other times I just use a pool noodle or my hands to smudge it around.”

One of the bigger challenges for Strohschein is that she has to blend chalk colors together to match the Oilers blue and orange “so we don’t look like another team – the Islanders.”

Another hurdle is the weather, with the possibility of rain erasing her hard work at any time.

She enjoys seeing people’s reactions to the art and gets a lot of positive feedback.

“Absolutely love it, brightens up the neighbourhood,” said Michael Lotzgeselle, who sees the art on his way to school. “I always come back and look and see what’s new, I just really appreciate it. I know a lot of other people appreciate it too.”

“It builds the morale behind the sport and everyone’s really excited right now, so why not,” said Morgan McVitie, who lives close by.

Next on her art docket is a piece with the full faces of Oilers forwards Zach Hyman, Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid.

Her plan for if the Oilers win the Stanley Cup this year is to do a giant chalk art of the cup.

The Oilers begin Round 2 of the playoffs against the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Matt Woodman 

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