Windy weather challenges “Chalk the Harbor” event in Gig Harbor

Artists who draw with chalk on sidewalks have to expect outside interference.

Often it’s people’s feet. Sometimes it’s rain.

At Saturday’s Chalk the Harbor event in Gig Harbor, the biggest complicating factor was the wind.

Afternoon gusts were so strong they blew down the tent where Downtown Waterfront Alliance volunteers were signing up participants.

The wind erased fine details on drawings that stretched from the Tides Tavern to Anthony’s Home Port restaurant and turned them into airborne dust.

“I put down three strokes and two blow away,” said Michael Shipley, a Gig Harbor graphic designer struggling with a gothic scene featuring a tree with a twisted trunk.

Mary Desmarais, executive director of the Alliance, took the wind in good humor. Everybody still had a great time, she said. More than 200 people participated, including many families.

“I just think it’s such a fun family event,” she said. “To have so much participation by families is great.”

Besides, things could be much worse, Desmarais said. A few years ago, it rained, and the whole chalk event had to be canceled.

Pat Meras, one of four professional artists hired by the Waterfront Alliance to show the possibilities of chalk on concrete, was doing her best not to be frustrated.

“I’ve lost half my pigment,” she said. “It just goes up in a cloud.”

Meras was standing with hands on hips outside the Full Moon Gallery, looking down at her impressionistic landscape that the wind was making even more impressionistic.

“It’s like all painting,” she said. “You have these ideas, and then the painting tells you what it needs. Sometimes you can take advantage of it. It can be a happy accident.

“I just figure, this is my medium. Work with it.”

Chalk the Harbor was held in conjunction with Gig Harbor’s Summer Art Festival, now in its 30th year.

The Summer Art Festival, organized by the Peninsula Art League, features more than 120 booths highlighting the works of arts and crafts people from the Northwest. It stretches for three blocks along Judson Street in Gig Harbor’s historic waterfront district.

The art festival continues through Sunday.