Chalkboard Art Inspiration

Chalkboard Art Pic 6

I have always been in love with lettering. When I was a child I began my journey as a voracious reader and a book held a special promise when the lettering was unusual or unique. If the style of font added some unique flavor to the text I felt even more enjoyment in the book.

Cherry Pie Recipe Print


This love of lettering extended into young adulthood. When my husband and I married 27 years ago, the typography on the wedding invitation was as important to me as the text since I wanted it to convey the love I felt for my husband to be, the excitement I felt for our future together and the thrill of the promise of the years ahead.

Chalkboard Art Wedding Invitation


My love for typography then continued into my pursuit of painting. When I first started to learn to paint, I learned under the apprentice system used in decorative painting. In this apprentice system, students learn to paint by taking classes from teachers where they paint the exact same painting as the teacher with the same colors and techniques. Then over time as the student gains confidence, skill and knowledge, they begin to create their own paintings and techniques. In this method of learning, I was always attracted to paintings that included lettering, especially lettering based on styles from the late 1800s and early 1900s.


Vintage Seed Packet



Imagine my excitement then when I saw chalkboard art. If you’re not familiar with chalkboard art let me show you some great photos. These were all done by Dana Tanamachi and can also be viewed on her website.

Chalkboard Art Pic 1


Chalkboard Art Pic 2

Chalkboard Art Pic 3


Chalkboard Art Pic 4


Chalkboard Art Pic 5


Chalkboard Art Pic 6


As you can see, chalkboard art is not supposed to be permanent as it is done in chalk on a chalkboard. It can be “fixed” so that it won’t wipe off easily by spraying it with hairspray but this is still not permanent as it can be rubbed off. What I love about chalkboard art is that I see a lot of influence on it by advertisements from the 1800s and early 1900s. I love this time period for both design and style. In the 1800s to early 1900s, design was lush and full from the Victorian, Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Edwardian styles. Today you can see the influence of these design movements in all sorts of ways and chalkboard art is a great example. Look at these ads that I pulled in from Karen’s great Graphics Fairy site. She does a great job finding old ephemera that is too old to be under copyright and she scans it and makes it available for free use. The influence on chalkboard art can definitely be seen in these ads.

Ephemera Ad 1

Source: Graphics Fairy


Ephemera Ad 2

Source: Graphics Fairy

Ephemera Ad 3

Source: Graphics Fairy

I scanned in ads from a magazine I bought from 1925.

1925 Magazine Cover


Baking Powder Ad

Magazine Back Cover

Aren’t they gorgeous? Can you see the influence?

When I first started painting I fell in love with a book of painting designs called Crate Labels and Seed Packets by Barbara Baatz.

It was my plan to paint every design from this book. Unfortunately, I only did one. It’s shown below. My only regret is that when I first started I didn’t know that you need to seal wood before painting on it. Sealing the wood keeps any sap, chemicals, etc. from coming through the wood to affect the paint. As you can see from the photo there is sap turning the paint brown in a circle from the knothole in the wood. Sealing would have kept this from happening.

camellia tray

Once I gained more confidence and began creating my own designs for painting, I took this love for typography from the time period I prefer and I created a painting of a cover to a seed catalog. I loved painting this. Fruits and vegetables are so fun to paint and I enjoy the challenge of trying to make them realistic looking.

Seed Catalog Painting

Seed Catalog Close-up

I also had the pleasure of teaching this piece several times to classes of students/artists. If you would like to paint this design, the pattern packet is available on our sister site Creative Legacy Art Studio.

My only regret was that I was limited on the style of lettering by my own lack of knowledge. I used the lettering from a word processing package on the computer. I didn’t know then how to add free fonts to my library of fonts. Now I do and I passed this along on my blog post found by clicking here. Also I did not know about some great books on old ads and lettering that I could have used as inspiration. These books have many examples from the time period I love. (Click on the pics to see the books in Amazon.)

Tyology Book


Design Connoisseur

This book is being reprinted in October? And I can’t wait to buy it.

Scripts Book

Here’s an interesting fact for you. One of the co-authors of the “Scripts” book shown above was Dana Tanamachi’s boss. See the connection and influence on chalkboard art? Good stuff, right?

If you are a lover of typography like me and can’t paint, remember you can create your own chalkboard art or beautiful text on paper and decoupage it to any piece of furniture, tray, door, etc. Don’t forget about our great Souped Up Decoupage Tutorial. Everything you need to know about decoupaging can be found by following this link.

Thanks for visiting,


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