REXBURG, Idaho (eastidahonews.com/Meredith) — With chalk in hand, gloves and kneepads on, Matt Allred is ready to work.
The father of four will spend 13 hours over the next three days on his driveway meticulously drawing an Easter masterpiece.
Allred is not a professional artist — he’s an OB-GYN at Madison Women’s Clinic. He moved to Rexburg with his kids and wife, Chrissy, from St. Louis four years ago. One day he found some leftover sidewalk chalk in the garage and started to draw.
“We had this idea of making a rainbow and went ahead and did a huge one on the driveway,” Allred recalls. “It really turned out pretty cool, and then a few weeks later, my daughter asked if I would do a unicorn.”
From there, the creative art took off. He drew Wonder Woman, Winnie the Pooh, Super Mario Bros., Halloween themes and Disney films.
Allred is now up to 19 different designs. His most time-consuming creation was a colorful image from the movie “Up.” It took 16 hours to complete.
“He did all of the balloons,” Chrissy tells EastIdahoNews.com. “My niece, Grace Allred, came over and helped with the house portion, but the balloons were so tedious on a massive scale that I’ve never seen before.”
Before he starts chalking, Allred prints the image on paper and divides the driveway into nine sections. He completes one area at a time, hiding small “Easter egg” drawings in the main picture. Along the way, he’s learned many lessons.
“There was a time I was doing this without gloves on, and I literally peeled off skin,” he says with a smile.
One of the main questions Allred is asked is if he worries about rain or water getting on his artwork.
“One time the sprinklers came on while I was chalking and I got all upset but then it spread out quite a bit more and I saw water absorbs the chalk,” he explains. “There’s now a point where we love what it looks like when it rains because it brings back the vibrant definition of the colors.”
This doctor’s creativity isn’t confined to the driveway. He spent hours building a large “Skittle” igloo in his backyard last winter, complete with frozen colored panels and lights at night.
And if you walk into the Allreds home on a Sunday, you might find a massive Hot Wheels track running through every room, down the stairs, on top of counters, and in and out of birdcages.
“I feel like he just wants to make things interesting for other people, and it makes it more fun for him to do,” Chrissy says.
The driveway art projects have become a way for Allred to destress and “declutter” his mind. He’s lost count of how many sticks of chalk he’s gone through and is always thinking ahead to what could be drawn next.
The Allreds include their kids in their driveway photos as a way to document them growing up. Chrissy is a photographer and takes pictures of all the images. The “Up” sketch has been featured in a professional photography magazine, and last spring, Allred’s “He is Risen” Easter drawing went viral.
These days it’s not uncommon for neighbors to stop by and watch the artist at work.
“It’s kind of fun to see the community walking by, smiling and enjoying what they are seeing,” Allred says.
There will be a lot to see this summer as Allred is already planning his next drawing – a tribute to the Preston-based film “Napoleon Dynamite.”
Allred says he doesn’t do this for attention. He just wants to spread positivity and encourage others to try something new because they could discover a hidden talent that ends up inspiring people around the world.
“There’s so much you can learn no matter where you are,” he says. “There’s so much to progress, and I think we get complacent. I remember one project I was doing, I thought, ‘Why am I doing this? I’m 2% done.’ But then I realized, ‘Why stop now? Keep going.’”
You can follow Matt’s artwork on his Facebook page and Chrissy’s Instagram account.
By Nate Eaton
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