The Basics of Chalk Lettering with Valerie McKeehan

If you’ve ever wanted to dabble in chalk lettering, chances are you came across Valerie McKeehan in your Instagram/Pinterest searches.


The woman is everywhere and she sure KNOWS HER CHALK! Rightfully so- she’s been working at her craft since 2012 when she turned to chalk lettering as a creative outlet after falling in love with the (still very present) “rustic chic”/barn-style trend.


It’s pretty amazing that Val, the creator behind Lily and Val AND the author of The Complete Book of Chalk Lettering, first started off with a chalkboard in her kitchen and a quick Facebook post. Yup. That’s all it took…a proud husband sharing his wife’s art, a few keen aunts (we all have one or two of those, don’t we?) and friends asking for their own custom creations…and the rest is history.


Val is such a lovely person and her personality really shines through in her lesson. She is so excited about sharing some of her favourite tools and super smart tricks (hello, who knew you could sharpen chalk?) that you really should watch it yourself. Pluuuus, I know you’ve been wondering what those chalk artists mean when they mention “seasoning” and they are NOT talking about BBQ chicken.


So check it out yourself, or skip through to my recap below if you’re in a rush!

The links below may be affiliate links where appropriate. This means that your purchase through these links may result in a few cents in payment to me, to support creating further resources like this one! That being said, I will never suggest supplies that I do not personally use and fully recommend.


Favourite Tools:

Side note: all of the above can be purchased in Val’s tool kit, available here.


Step by Step Lesson:

*Sharpen chalk through your process*

  1. Season your chalkboard surface by liberally rubbing chalk all over it
  2. Wipe your surface/spread the chalk around with the felt or microfibre cloth
  3. Sharpen chalk – you get way more control when it’s sharp and draw your “skeleton sketch”
  4. Start building the shape of your letters in multiple passes/stokes using “faux-calligraphy” to create a brush lettering effect.
  5. Fill in your letters for desired texture
  6. Smudge the dust! Your hands are one of the best tools you can use…get dirty! Fluff out a cotton swab and smudge the inner portion of the letters to add dimension.
  7. Use a pencil eraser to erase dust and make your work POP!


“Beauty is in the imperfection of it.” – Valerie McKeehan


Val makes a point that I felt does not apply to many other art forms. Chalk art is SO forgiving. If you make an error, it can easily be erased and restarted. Accidentally removed a bit too much dust? Just scribble and smudge on some more. There really is “no room for error”- not because you can’t make any, but because you don’t have to be worried about making any: the solution is so easily and effortlessly fixed.


I really hope you enjoyed this interview! Make sure you’re subscribed to The Happy Ever Crafter TV to catch the rest in the series! And one last HUGE thank you to Valerie!

Interested in more of these interviews? You can also join the Facebook group, where these Q&A’s are hosted LIVE, and submit your own questions for future guests.

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