Truckee artist gears up for festival

Renee Shadforth

It’s not often artists get immediate feedback on their work. That’s why Truckee-artist Roxane Litchfield will take part in the Tahoe Arts Festival street painting for the fourth time this weekend.

“I really get into my painting,” she said. “And when people come up and comment on my work, it feels great.”

The 34-year-old, self-taught artist will use chalk to create a bear and a cub in a 7-by-7-foot concrete square in the parking lot of the Tahoe Biltmore Lodge and Casino at this year’s festival. In past years, she painted a lighthouse, floral designs and a patriotic piece.

For the past few weeks, she has been practicing sidewalk art in her driveway to prepare for the festival.

“On a flat plane, it’s harder to get used to. It’s really taken me three years to get it down nice,” said Litchfield, who usually works with oil, acrylic, pastel or wood burning on an upright surface.

Founder and director of the festival Ruth Schnabel said 55 artists have signed up to participate in the street painting. It might be the biggest turnout the 5-year-old festival has ever had, she said.

“You don’t have to be a professional artist to participate in this,” Schnabel said. “A lot of people live in our area, who are bartenders or retail clerks, create art to entertain themselves. This is their chance to share their abilities with other people.”

Street painting began in Italy in the 16th century. Also known as I Madonnari, because of the common practice of reproducing the image of Madonna, the original street paintings were created by vagabonds traveling to small towns and villages to transform the sidewalks into temporary galleries. Then, the first rains of the season came and wash the paintings away.

The Tahoe Arts Festival is also an opportunity for people like Litchfield to network with other artists.

“I meet a lot of interesting artists. I get good ideas,” she said.

In addition to the street painting event, the festival also features an artist marketplace and a street painting area for children.

The fifth annual Tahoe Arts Festival will be held June 21 and 22 at the Tahoe Biltmore Lodge and Casino in Crystal Bay, Nev. The event is free. For more information, or to participate in the event, call 583-5605.

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