The chalk art of Regan Nelson can be seen monthly on the drinks board at the downtown location of Cabin Fever Coffee in the 300 block of Defiance’s Clinton Street, however, the unique coffee adverb — though her first professional foray in to chalk — is far from Nelson’s first experience with art.
Nelson, a recent Defiance High School graduate, spoke about getting her coffee shop job.
“The first thing that they asked me was if I was interested in doing their downtown drink board ...,” said Nelson. “I’ve been doing it a little over a year ... . I started in March 2021 and my first board was in April.”
When asked about the process for coming up with art for the board Nelson said, “they will give me a list ahead of time, so I will start sketching it out as soon as I get the drink flavor ... . I (have) a little notebook with a bunch of little doodles in there. But it’s basically a whole bunch of trial and error and asking other people for their opinions and what they think of when they hear the drink (flavors) ... .
“I find a day ... where I can spend a couple hours and I grab my chalk and get to work ... . Sometimes it’s easy,” continued Nelson, like with her first art for the drinks board the flavor was pumpkin bread so that’s what she drew. However, with last month’s flavor, “Under the Sea” she did a lot more creative work before choosing a design.
Some of Nelson’s early concept art for this drink flavor included a SpongeBob SquarePants pineapple house and a coconut drink bowl with a umbrella and straw. Nelson settled on a design of a Pirate/Davy Jones figure with a coffee under water.
“I have definitely had to grow to figure (chalk) out ... . It’s not been too much of a challenge really, it’s kind of just figuring out what works best for me and the board,” said Nelson.
Previously, the drinks board had been drawn in pastels, but Nelson decided she wanted to try using chalk instead.
“... it was (different) adapting, but I think I prefer the chalk more then I did the pastel ...,” she said.
Using chalk as a medium is relatively new for her.
“It was the whole 2020 quarantine thing, when everybody was going crazy for sidewalk chalk,” said Nelson, “It was just starting to warm up outside so people would go on walks around my neighborhood. So I did drawing on my sidewalk of cartoon characters, fruits, just crazy stuff like that to just kind of cheer up the neighborhood ... .”
Though exploring chalk as a medium right now, Nelson said about her other art, “I am an acrylic painter ... I’ve painted on a whole bunch of things like walls, records, canvas for sure. I’ve done shoes, calculators, phone cases, pretty much anything you can paint on. I’ve done people, floral art, buildings, usually people. I like to sketch, I sketch a lot ... that’s probably my favorite one (to do) ... .”
When asked how she came by her artistic talents Nelson said, “I’ve taken a couple of art classes, some at Defiance and I’ve taken an art appreciation class at Northwest State” as well as a few “Just Be Original” classes.
She also noted some family connection, “he passed away, but I’ve always been told that my great-grandfather was really good at (art), he was like a wood carver and painter and he was just a very creative person. And I wish I would have learned a little bit more from him ... .”
As for right now when asked about other artistic ventures Nelson said, “(I’ve done) murals. I think I’ve done about 45 maybe and I usually get payment for those. People will come up to me and ask me to do (a commission).”
“I’ve done two baby nurseries, one of them was a Star Wars nursery. It had a whole bunch of mountains and trees, a little Ewoke village, that was probably my favorite one. The other one was a little girls’ nursery. It has a whole bunch of vines and roses in it ... .”
Those murals are in private homes, but Nelson’s art can be seen publicly around the Defiance area as well as online at Rtistic.by.regan@Instagram.com.
“I have been a very passionate artist from a very young age,” she said. “I love it a lot and I’ve been trying to find a career that has something to do with my passion for art. I have tried to put myself in as many art classes as possible ... . I’ve done murals in peoples homes. I’m a photographer, and there’s been a bunch of little projects. The fire hydrants at Kingsbury Park are mine. I painted them for the 4th of July. There is more to come, but we’re working on it. It’s a process.”
As for her future art plans Nelson said, “there is nothing really on the table right now. There are a whole bunch of little ideas that I’ve thought about, but I’m not sure I’m going to pursue ... . I just graduated this year so I got a little time. I’m very interested in doing future projects ... .”