The Art in Taking Flight

I’ve gone back and forth on what topic I was going to choose  to talk about for this blog post. I thought about the upcoming holiday, Thanksgiving, and thought, besides the company of family, the sharing of food, who doesn’t love  an awesome balloon?? A balloon you might ask? Of course!? Let me explain.

The earliest type of unmanned hot air balloon’s were first used in China during the Three Kingdoms Era (220-280AD) of the Shu Han Kingdom. The lanterns that were used were called Kongming Lanterns which were used for military signaling, but later became a tradition at Chinese festivals. They are also known as “Sky Lanterns”. These lanterns were made from oiled paper on a bamboo frame and and the heat source was a small candle made from a waxy flammable material.


Kongming Lantern – The oldest type of hot air balloon. (photo taken by  unknown source)

     On June 4th, 1783, Jacques-Etienne and Joseph-Michel Montgolfier launched the first large scale balloon flight from Annonay, France. The brothers wanted to have a public demonstration to make a claim on their balloon invention. They designed the balloon to be globe- shaped, made of sackcloth with three thin layers of paper inside. The constructed fabric globe could contain nearly 28,000 cubic feet of air and weighed 500lb. The pieces consisted of the dome and three lateral pieces, held together by 1,800 buttons. Reinforcing fish net cord covered the outside of it.


Please click on image to see it on a larger scale.

Exhibited: “The Dream of Flight” (between 1890-1900) Created by: Unknown Artist.

First public demonstration in Annonay, France, June 4th, 1783.

     The balloon flew for the public as well as for a group of dignitaries from the Etats particulars  at Annonay.  The flight lasted 10 minutes and covered 1.2 miles and had an estimate altitude of 5,200-6,600ft.

     The brothers then got together with Jean-Baptiste Reveillon , a successful wallpaper manufacturer to discuss designs for their next balloon. The new balloon consisted of 37,000 cubic feet of taffeta coated with a varnish of alum which has fireproofing properties. It was designed with golden flourishes, signs of the Zodiac, and suns.


Please click on balloon to see it on a larger scale.

A model of the Montgolfier brothers’ balloon at the London Science Museum. (Unknown artist, unknown year it was made)

The test of flight that included animals  was on September 19, 1783, at the royal palace of Versailles. There was concern about how the flight would effect living creatures since they wanted to fly the balloon at a high altitude. The King at the time, King Louis XVI of France suggested that criminals be sent up in the balloon as guinea pigs to see if the altitude is safe. That idea was dismissed and it was agreed upon that a duck, a sheep, and a rooster would be the first living creatures to take flight.  Also in attendance to this exciting moment was  Queen Marie Antoinette, along with several excited watchers from the crowd. 

With the success of these flights, Etienne began to work with Reveillon again, making a balloon for human flight. The ballon was 75 feet tall and 50 feet in diameter. Etienne Montgolfier was the first person to lift off the Earth in the balloon. The date of that occurrence more than likely took place on October 15, 1783. Below is a what that balloon looked like. Truly a piece of art.


Please click on image to view in larger scale.

A 1786 depiction of the Montgolfier brothers’ historic balloon with engineering data. (Unknown artist, unknown date created)

Since the success of the Montgolfier brothers, the hot air balloon is still being used today for people to enjoy. For example, Benoit  Lambert, who is a huge Star Wars fan from Belgium, received permission from Lucas film to hire Cameron, the worlds largest manufacturer of hot air balloons to make a replica of Darth Vader, and this is what they came up with.


Please click on image view in larger scale.

Darth Vader hot air balloon. “Head One”,  Created by Cameron Manufacturing, 2005.

d4bed9d4d220139df57d11Jonathan Trappe Crosses The Alps In Helium Balloon Flight

Jonathan Trappe flies in his balloon cluster September 12, 2013.  “N878UP”, (2013), created by Jonathan Trappe

This has the appearance of a hot air balloon but is made with helium balloons. His attempt was to fly across the Atlantic Ocean but did not make it all the way there. I added this into the blog because it appears similar to a hot air balloon and it gives the same effect. Humans in flight, and it’s beautiful.

To me, these balloons are works of art suspended above Earth. I love it.

And last but not least, the balloons that are displayed every year during the Thanksgiving Day Parade. The thought and work and team effort to haul these down the street is astounding.

I love balloons.



Human Resilience – Virtual Exhibit

Is there something that you turn to that your passionate about? That gives you hope? That feeds your inner wellbeing? Keeps you feeling alive and maybe a part of something bigger than yourself?  Whether a persons passion is LIFE, running, painting, sculpting, quilting, whatever it may be, when the passion for that is so strong, it’s unstoppable. The human spirit can become resilient and physical abilities adapt differently to how it used to work when negative things happen in life, no matter what that negative thing might be. Different senses can awaken, spring to life like never before.

The two artists I’ve chosen to  share with you is John Bramblitt and Esref Armagan. Both of these men are blind visual artists.

John Bramblitt had lost his eyesight completely by the age of twenty-one due to epileptic seizures. He was a student at the University of Texas when he lost his eyesight completely. At that point, he had not learned how to use adaptive devices such as a cane, Braille for reading, techniques for the computer, or how to get around independently and he could not read or write due to his inability to see. He was afraid that if he left school he wouldn’t return, so he stayed and received incomplete grades that he could make up later.  He continued to enroll in classes. Below is a few powerful videos of his story,  along with some of his amazing work. 

Blind Painter-Line of Sight-My Generation”- (2012)

I  included this video “Mothers Day Art Project” – (2010) because it shows his technique in painting and I enjoyed how he teaches his son how to paint also.

    Please click on each piece of artwork for enlarged viewing. Thanks.

Main Street Mafia Derby-2013

“Main Street Mafia Derby” (2013)

I selected this piece first because it gives so much attention to detail and it had to have taken a long time for him to make. I love all of the colors that are in this piece of work and the time and effort that went into making it is what amazes me the most.


“Colours” (2010)

I really enjoy seeing the contrast of colors in this piece. He gave a lot of shading to the child and definitely placed him in the forefront, while in the background, a lot of bold colors. The way he did that appears to give the painting depth.  It doesn’t appear flat at all.


“Jacqi In Central Park” (2013)

I really like this piece because first, the woman in the painting is  his wife Jacqi so it was about spending time together. I also like he had Central Park appear vibrant and bold. I think color was a feeling for him here. A feeling of joy in the moment.


“Isolation” (year created, unknown)

What I like about this piece is the people and the car in the background. For some reason I’m not very fond of the forefront image. Maybe because it give a more gloomy feel. I do think it’s amazing the way he was able to create the brick texture. This seems like it might be a piece of his earlier work.

O's with X's John's Signature

This is John’s signature to his artwork that I feel is very powerful. It his representation of climbing out the deepest darkest hole of personal despair. The O’s with X’s struck through them.

     The second artist I chose is Esref Armagan, a Turkish painter born without sight to a poor family. He taught himself to write and print. While he paints, he requires total silence and uses a braille stylus to etch the outline of his drawing. He has displayed his work at more than twenty exhibitions in Turkey, Italy, China, the Netherlands, and Czech Republic. In 2004, he was a subject of study on human perception, conducted by psychologist John Kennedy of University of Toronto. In 2009, he was invited by Volvo to paint the new model S60 vehicle as part of a social medial campaign. 

     The one thing that I did come across with this artist is that I did not find any names to his pieces, and very few of them were dated, unfortunately. Although for me personally that did not pose to be a problem, it did for this assignment since that is what I’m used to including in each piece of work that is included onto this blog. A link is under each piece where I found his work.


Unknown Name, Unknown date created.  Artwork.

What I liked about this painting is the white specks against the brown which brings out the paintings more. I also like the lighter color all around the fish to give a it a glowing effect.

artist with no eyes

Unknown name. Unknown date created. Artwork

This painting is my favorite for it’s comical theme. Nice to see that the sea animals do get involved in the arts also.


Unknown name. Unknown date created. Artwork

This painting brought me back to when my family used to go out to the lake for the day to go fishing in Fairbanks. This scene is very cheerful and I like the red in this painting and how it brings out all of the other colors.

peasant on path

Unknown name. (1991) Artwork

I enjoyed this painting because I notice how he incorporated the touches of blue not only in the water as expected, but he added blue into the trees which I thought might be reflection of water. I also found this painting to be very cheerful and I was glad to find a date on a piece of his artwork.

Blind Artist Paints All New Volvo S60″ (2009)

I enjoyed this commercial very much and watched it at least ten times. It gave me a feeling of humanity for some reason. People taking down boundaries and overcoming obstacles and achieving goals.

Both  artists have overcome obstacles in their life and through art, were able to be resilient. That is the theme through all of their artwork that is on this blog. You can hear it in their voice when their talking on each  video, and see the excitement on their face.  It also comes with the realization of  how much time went into each piece that they have made. I enjoyed watching their passion shine through.

*I’m dedicating this post to my mother Diane and my daughter Lily. Your resilience is truly inspiring.*


Early Modern Era and The Harlem Renaissance

In the early Modern period, African Americans were influenced by the Harlem Renaissance that took place between 1917 and 1935. During this time, African American middle class were advocating for racial equality. There are important people that I wanted to include besides the artists themselves that paved the way for African Americans which lead up to the Harlem Renaissance, and what they were doing at the time was invaluable to the cause.

There were three large civil rights movement groups in New York City during that time frame that assisted in paving the way for the Harlem Renaissance to occur, included the NAACP, the UNIA-ACL, and the NUL.  The first civil rights group was called the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) which was established in 1909. The person in the forefront of that group was a man by the name of W.E.B. DuBois who was a black historian, sociologist, civil rights activist,  and a Harvard scholar.


W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963)

     The second civil rights group was led by Jamaican-born Marcus Garvey who rounded the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL). The group advocated for cultural unity as well as having one absolute government for African Americans.


Marcus Garvey (1887-1940)

     The third civil rights group during this time was founded by Ruth Standish Baldwin and Dr. George Edmund Haynes. This civil rights group was called the National Urban League (NUL). They counseled black immigrants from the south, trained African American social workers and gave educational and employment opportunities to African Americans.


Ruth Standish Baldwin and Dr. George Edmund Haynes

     The strength within these groups opened the doors for the Harlem Renaissance to occur by empowering African Americans and establishing a sense of community. The Harlem Renaissance incorporated writers, artists, musicians, photographers, poets, and scholars.  It was a time of change, awareness, pride in culture, and artistic ability, as well as an attempt to transform a largely segregated and racist society. Below are three visual artists who were a part of the Harlem Renaissance.


 Aaron Douglas, “Into Bondage” (1936)

 Aaron Douglas

           Aaron Douglas (1898-1979)

Aaron Douglas’ work exemplified the ‘New Negro’ philosophy. He produced illustrations and cover designs for black publications including The Crisis and Opportunity, as well as wall murals for public buildings. He also founded the Art Department at Fisk University where he taught for twenty-nine years.


   Jacob Lawrence, “Barber Shop” (1946)


       Jacob Lawrence (1898-1979)

     Jacob Lawrence brought African American life experiences into his paintings. To achieve that, he used black and browns close together for contrasting effect using vivid colors. He also was a professor at the University of Washington for fifteen years.


    Archibald Motley, Portrait of Mrs. A.J. Motley Jr”. 


      Archibald Motley Jr. (1891-1981)

 Archibald Motley Jr. was considered one of the major contributors to the Harlem Renaissance. He studied painting at the School of The Art Institute of Chicago during the 1910’s. He specialized in portrait paintings and saw it “as a means of affirming racial respect and race pride.”