By Meda Kessler
Photos by Ron Jenkins
Jan and Olivia Riggins take their talents to the sidewalks
Jan Riggins works mainly in watercolors, but she also dabbles in graphite, colored pencils, oils, pastels and charcoal.
Painting runs in her family; her mother and grandmother also were talented artists. And Jan has watched 13-year-old daughter Olivia develop her own skills.
By day, Jan works 9-to-5 as a manager at an employment recruiter in downtown Fort Worth. In the evening, when it cools down a bit, she and Olivia sweat it out on the driveway and sidewalk in front of their home in north Fort Worth. Using foam pads to sit on as buffers from the hot concrete and the family van to shield them from the late-evening sun, they turn into chalk artists.
Jan’s no stranger to chalk as a medium. She has participated in local chalk-art festivals for the past five years; Olivia joined her mom for her first event last year. But Jan admits the detailed three-dimensional designs require a lot of work and thought. “Olivia has to help me with the grid systems. And you have to remember that they only look good from one angle.”
While she has taken satisfaction in being slowly accepted by this talented group of street artists, Jan had to find other outlets when the pandemic canceled festivals. She and Olivia did take on a couple of commissioned jobs. “You learn a lot about each other when you spend 11 hours sitting on the hot cement.”
But it is their daily outings at their own home — even in 100-degree heat — that have kept them focused this summer. Jan has found that by covering her sidewalk with vibrant sunflowers, colorful koi and cartoon characters, she can make people smile: the delivery guy who stops in front of the house to see their latest work of art, their neighbors, kids celebrating birthdays and even singer Kelly Clarkson, who featured Jan and Olivia on her talk show in early July.
Sometimes rain washes their work away, or sometimes they hose it off to start something new. “The reason I like chalk art is the impermanence of it. It’s also great stress relief,” says Jan. “Even after an exhausting day at work, I feel better after painting.” Follow Jan at facebook.com/janrigginsart and the mom-daughter team on Instagram @janrigginsart and @oliviarigginsart.