WILMONT — A year ago — when Abby, Morgan and Kierra Reetz were stuck at home with nothing to do during the global pandemic — they decided to bring their tub of giant chalk out of storage and do some outdoor decorating.
Their own driveway, though, had meandering cracks and occasional pits that were not at all conducive to advancing their artistic abilities. Just across their lawn to the south, though, laid a beautiful concrete canvas sectioned into 10 rectangles that beckoned for them to come on over.
“We thought we’d do chalk art on their driveway because it’s smooth,” shared Morgan, age 14. Her sisters, Abby, 16, and Kierra, 10, were co-conspirators in the plan, knowing that the home’s owners, Steve and Mary Brake, were in Texas at the time and the design would likely be a distant memory before they returned home.
The Brakes had no idea their driveway had fostered an art project until Andrea Reetz took a picture of her daughters and their colorful creation and texted it to them.
“Here they were coming home from Texas that day,” Morgan said.
“When they got home, Steve saw it and he loved it so much he got us chalk just so we could do more on their driveway,” Abby added.
The chalk art began on the Brakes’ driveway three years ago with permission — and with words, rainbows and drawings — including self-portrait stick figures of each of the girls. It has since progressed to geometric designs that are hours in the making. And yes, the Brakes still enjoy coming home to see what the girls have done to best their last design.
Not only have the Brakes appreciated the chalk art, but everyone else on the block has taken notice, as well as people who live on the other side of town.
“We have plenty of traffic down this road anyway, but when we did their driveway, we had tons of people stop by and look or slow down,” Abby shared. Some even pulled out their phone or camera and took a picture.
Steve Brake has shared some of the images on social media, which has delighted the Reetz girls as they read comments like “That’s amazing,” “Nice work,” and “Wow, that’s beautiful!”
“Everyone seems to think it’s pretty cool,” said Morgan. “Some ask, ‘When are you going to come and do mine?’”
Last year, the sisters had help with the artwork from Kacee and Kelsey Van Ruler. While the family moved out of town in April, they still come over occasionally and join in the fun.
“Our neighborhood is pretty close-knit,” Abby said. “Steve and Mary are like grandparents to us.”
Hence the continued motivation to welcome the Brakes home with colorful creations. For Memorial Day, it was a drawing of a flag; for Mary’s birthday, they wrote a message across the driveway; and for Independence Day, well, they went all out.
Up until then, they’d only create their designs on one or two of the cement rectangles. For the July 4 holiday, the girls knew they had an entire week to create and decided to do a full coverage piece over all 10 rectangles — the entire driveway.
“We did two squares a day for five days,” said Morgan. “We didn’t dedicate all of our time to it — we just did it when we had time, when we wanted to.”
The design was geometric, using painter’s tape to map out the pattern.
“It takes a lot of painter’s tape,” Kierra said.
“And a lot of chalk, too,” chimed in Morgan.
“Ten rolls of painter’s tape and probably four boxes of chalk just for the driveway,” added Abby, who was primarily tasked with the taping.
Their only rule was that they couldn’t touch colors, meaning a blue triangle could not be adjacent to another block of blue.
The girls started their massive project on June 29 and finished it on July 4 — just in time for the Brakes to come home and see it. And that was a good thing, considering it rained two days later and the artwork disappeared.
Abby said while they like to do the chalk art when the Brakes are away, it’s even more fun when the Brakes are home.
“They have a Ring doorbell, and one day, Mary saw us and she started coloring some,” she said. “Steve was out on the farm and got a notification that (Mary) walked out the door, and he came into town. He wanted to hang out and watch us do it.”
If the Brakes aren’t home, the girls like to go up and make faces at the Ring doorbell, just so that the couple gets a notification that someone is on their property.
The girls are currently taking a break from their chalk art because they ran out of chalk.
“Last year, (sidewalk chalk) was really hard to find,” Abby said. “People were buying it like crazy.”
That doesn’t stop them from making plans, however. Kierra said they want to design a John Deere tractor to draw on the Brakes’ driveway.
And the sooner they get it done, the better. The girls have worked out a deal with Steve that for every rectangle they decorate with chalk, he has to give them a ride in his Jeep.
“(The driveway) looks really good with the time that they put in,” said Mary.