Meet a Mom: Shelley Brothers, The Accidental Chalk Artist - Greater Austin Moms

These week’s Meet a Mom holds a special place in my heart. Flashback to 2020 and our family took a LOT of walks around our Circle C neighborhood. We walked by a house with some cool chalk art in the driveway and on the next walk we met the artist, Shelley Brothers. Every walk after that we would stop and see what “our chalk lady” had drawn. We tried our best to make our daughter’s birthday that year as special as possible and I was so happy when Shelley agreed to chalk a happy birthday greeting on our driveway for the Thomas the Train loving birthday girl. Our walks by Shelley’s house didn’t stop and it’s been so much fun to see her artwork take off (like even on a magazine cover!). I’m thrilled for you to meet Shelley, the Accidental Chalk Artist. 

Hey, hey, hey! I’m Shelley Brothers and have lived in Austin for almost 13 years. I’ve moved with my husband, Barry quite a bit because of his advertising career. We both grew up in Colorado and graduated from CU-Boulder. A week after we tied the knot, we moved to Virginia where Barry went to graduate school. After getting his Master’s, we moved to Dallas and then San Diego, CA. Our son, Cooper was born in San Diego and we moved to Austin when he was just 7 months old.
family photo by: Aneta Hayne Photography
Of all the places we’ve lived, I feel a special connection to Austin with the art, music and overall creative community. We found ourselves at unique events like Eeyore’s Birthday, HONK TX!, and the Kite Festival where I first tried hula hooping. I met a great group of people in the hooping community and attended meetups, drum circles, and workshops. Sometimes I’d tote my son around with me and even became known as the hula hooping lady in my neighborhood. Haha!
I think becoming a mom lit a fire in me to play more. An introvert by nature, I found myself saying yes to things like hula hooping, ziplining, trapeze, running races, and many more things! I definitely took this approach to finding myself and figuring out what I really wanted to be when I grew up. I said yes to lots of odd jobs while balancing motherhood. One day when Cooper was about 4 years old, we were outside playing with sidewalk chalk. The “wanna be” teacher in me turned it into learning letters and other kindergarten concepts. Then he asked if I could draw him. Panic set in and I didn’t want to tell him that I can’t, so I tried and totally pretended like I knew what I was doing. Fake it until you make it, amiright? The confused look on his face was priceless (see pictures).

Fast forward to more driveway sessions and trips to the library to get “how-to-draw” robot and monster books, I practiced and practiced. I suddenly found myself procrastinating housework and wanting to be outside finding my flow and connecting with neighbors instead. About four years later, I was shocked when people starting asking me to create drawings for birthdays and businesses. Me? Really? I couldn’t believe people wanted to hire me, someone without an art background. This is when I became the Accidental Chalk Artist. I realized that ultimately the answer to my question of what to be when I grow up is to spread joy and happiness.

Chalk art definitely checks that box! I have since created many custom driveway birthday greetings (thank you pandemic), chalkboards, done live events, participated in my first chalk festival and even had my art on the summer cover of the Magnolia Journal last year! Still pinching myself! I’m constantly learning the art of running a business and have loved meeting so many interesting people along the way!

LOVE hearing about your journey. Love that you dove into what makes you happiest. Switching gears to mom life, any time saving tips/resources?
Hmmm…asking for help definitely! We don’t have family here, so relying on our village helps with carpooling and unexpected life events. Also, HEB Curbside has been a life saver! My motto is “art before dishes.” Find time for yourself no matter what that looks like to you. I’m a grown woman who loves chalking on the driveway, so don’t be embarrassed by your thing! I find that doing something for myself first, helps me be more productive. I’m a big fan of blocks of time. I’ll set a timer for an hour and only clean for that long and then work. And of course there’s that cooking thing… the Instant Pot and air fryer are my besties these days.

Let’s chat Austin favorites…I love the vibe at Cosmic Coffee. Bougie’s Donut has a delicious chocolate bacon cake donut, I’ll take two please. Hopdoddy’s magic shroom burger with truffle fries. Valentina’s brisket tacos… yum! I can talk about food all day! Thanks so much for taking the time to get to know me!

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