Thursday, February 20, 2014

#twitterartexhibit entry "Red Balloon" and how it got here, er, there

"Red Balloon", Mixed Media on Paper, 12 x 16cm, ©VP Miller

"Red Balloon" is my entry for the #twitterartexhibit. #twitterartexhibit is an international postcard art exhibition benefiting the Center for Contemporary Dance, Special Needs Classes in Orlando.

My entry work is 6" x 4" postcard sized and mixed media including shaving cream. Can you see the image of The Ministry of Silly Walks in the middle? Just there? Whaaaa?

Let me explain.

Last week (and the week before starting on Friday), I was again at my daughter's elementary school guest teaching. Anyway the wonderful teacher who invited me, wanted me to piggyback onto a creative learning segment called "Sweet Science" and teach the kids a little bit about Pop Art.

Can I say how much I love these guest teaching jobs? There's so much intensity packed into such little time, and the students really enjoy it!

Day 1 was a quick YouTube video overview of Andy Warhol, because you have to start there! Sadly they'd never heard of Andy Warhol prior to my workshop. Then again, they are between the ages of 7 and 10! As our Day 1 project we created Warhol inspired mono prints using Styrofoam plates and acrylic paint. The look of joy, and gasps as they pulled the paper off the inked plates was precious!

Scratching a design into Styrofoam for mono print

On day 2 of my workshop, we did the heavy prep work for day three. We had huge fun making marbleized paper by using shaving cream and floating food color, and frosting on top! Think rainbow colors with bubble gum and cotton candy smells! They oohed and aahed when scraping the shaving cream away and revealing their beautiful paper. We talked about what would happen if the shaving cream wasn't there and what it was used for with the inks.

Making marbleized paper with shaving cream and dyes

Day three 3 work was inspired by Robert Rauschenberg and his work with newsprint images. I wanted to show the students how to make easy copy paper transfers using pop images of their choice using their new marbleized paper. They brought in pop culture images relevant to them. They brought copier pictures of kittens, dragons, food and hearts. For my demo, I chose an image of The Ministry of Silly Walks. Using gesso mainly, we easily applied the images to the paper and I showed them how to complete the transfer once the gesso air dried.

Since we had time left, we painted with simple rockets. I recommend this for any age (that's you adults), and all skill levels. You get stunning results and things explode and take off like fireworks into the air 20ft. minus the fear of dismemberment. Yay! The film canisters were courtesy of the kind and excellent folks at Harmon Photo in Orlando. We talked about color theory a little after the thrill of having tempera paint explode out of canister. Because color mixing is thrilling....

Getting the film canister rockets ready with paint 

That was the back story for my piece "Red Balloon". It is the demo used during the student workshop on days 2 and 3. There is a lot of energy and love in it, with hours of sweat equity. It fits perfectly into the theme of benefiting children at the CDC, so I knew I wanted to add onto it. I was thinking more of John Cleese and creativity and humor. Please see his excellent video on how to stimulate creativity here.

Afterwards, I used pens to draw a red balloon. Have you seen the movie "The Red Balloon"? I imagined this little red balloon tethered to bad feelings and lifting up, up and away.

There you have it. How it got here, er, there.


  1. What a great story. I can totally see you working with the kids. So fun! Well written.

  2. They have such curiosity and passion it is an easy thing to do. Thanks!