• Lisa Brideau

Art That Pops in the Real World

3 Activities to Inspire your Budding Artists with Art that Pops


Secure collection box for homelessness on the Church Street Marketplace in Burlington, Vermont.

We are surrounded by a world which is increasingly communicating through visuals. Sounds very exciting to many people with ideas and concepts being represented in single images. No need for the paragraphs of carefully chosen words to convey the imagery, tone, and emotion of a message or idea. Art that pops with a colorful image and bold, concise text in an attention-getting font is the messenger, and people get it! Well, some people anyway. Being artistically challenged can make spotting and deciphering popular visuals feel overwhelming.

I say artistically challenged with the most positive lilt to my voice as I include myself in this group. My first contact with art that pops was a middle school art class. My teacher, Mr. Levine, was creating an oversized fire hydrant and had a large piece of paper, a thick index card, red paint and a very thick, black marker laid on the floor for his demonstration. He drew the basic shape of a hydrant and added a few detail lines. Next, the red paint was squeezed onto the paper and thick index card was used to scrape the paint into the hydrant outline. Within ten minutes he had painted a hydrant. The demonstration introduced the class to popular art, and I thought THIS is the art for me! A commonly known item represented with a bold outline and the suggestion of color without the necessity of following rules or being exact. Sadly, I tried and tried again to mimic the process, but that project did not make me feel like an artist. At the end of class, Mr. Levine came by to see my work and though I don't remember his exact words he basically said there was more to art then what could be seen on paper.

Through the years, I thought about the idea that art was more than just what you could put on paper and very gradually came to understand that art WAS all around me, especially art that pops. I admit that I've tried variations of the hydrant project at different points in my life with no success, but I have found other creative ways to include art that pops in my own and now my family's life.

1. Read, read, read! There are so many choices for reading material that use colorful illustrations to tell a story. Picture books, comic books, and graphic novels are all excellent tools to help children understand and enjoy visual communication. The illustrations can be as varied as the artists creating them, but the purpose is always to communicate the message in the story. Read and look at the story with your children and talk about the illustrations. Consider the color and shapes and look closely at the details of characters and background images. The illustrations can provide context and can help you and your children understand the story better. Although picture books, comic books, and graphic novels are mostly images with limited text, it doesn't mean that all content is for all children. Ask your local librarian for suggestions, they'll be glad to help.

2. Watch a movie! Movies are a perfect medium for exploring art that pops, and there are so many that you should be able to find some that suit your family's taste. Animated movies are full of bold, colorful images of real things or things that could be real. The story is told through the moving pictures with dialogue to provide context. My oldest recently watched Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and recommended that I see it and even offered to watch it with me.

3. Take a walk or a drive! I saved the best for last! We all live in places surrounded by pop art. Challenge your children to join you in a game of I-Spy that focuses on art that pops. I bet you'll be surprised at what you can find. Don't forget to include things like decorated mailboxes, Victorian homes with colorful gingerbread, decorative flags, murals, sidewalk art, business signs, storefronts, decorated electric junction boxes, decorated dumpsters, and that's just to get you started! I'd love to hear what you spotted!

By the way, the image of Champ (Lake Champlain's own version of 'The Loch Ness Monster') at the top of the blog was art that I discovered walking on Church Street in Burlington the other day. So you can see I'm still looking — and I hope I've inspired you and your artsy family to search for art all around you.

For a fun way to explore Pop art with your children, check out the Art to Know with MommyO™ blog or vlog where fine art is always fun art!

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colorful paper collage of MommyO, host of Art to Know with MommyO vlog, holding a paint palette and a dog