SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — Chalk: it's not just for blackboards.

The yearly Sarasota Chalk Festival begins this week and runs through Nov. 6.

The world's top street artists are creating veritable works of art on the pavement, sketching and "painting" breathtaking Renaissance-style masterpieces, minding-bending 3D images of futuristic robots, whimsical cats and much more.

The theme of this year's festival is Circus City USA, a nod to Sarasota's heritage as the headquarters for the Ringling Bros. Circus.

Artists from Italy, Brazil and Japan are on hand. And while the artists use ordinary cylindrical pieces of chalk, many also mix the chalk with water and use paintbrushes to apply it to the asphalt.

"It's really quite hard work," said artist Bryan Moon, who spent many hours rendering eight cats dressed as Wild West characters.