My fabulous campy ladies were originally inspired by a project I did with the kids involving popcorn. Everyone got a couple of pieces of popcorn and we did a whole lesson on observation (light and shadow, perspective, drawing what you see not what you know), and they were to do their best to draw an enlarged version of their popcorn pieces. I chose popcorn, because, like cloud gazing, and snowflakes, each one is different and no matter how they turned out, they didn’t need to worry about me saying “Hey, I remember your piece of popcorn, and that’s not what it looked like!” It was low risk (important for getting reluctant art students to try), but would allow them to practice their skills.
The second step to the project was grounded in imagination, where they and to look at the popcorn from different angles until they saw something that it could morph into (like cloud gazing). As always, I did it with them, and my popcorn looked like people crowding in for a selfie. I liked the fact that because I imposed a restriction on all of us, that we could add anything to the initial shape of the popcorn, but could not edit away any of the ‘weird’, that everyone’s work had a delicious wackiness to it. My selfie people were very different from the people I normally painted. They were exaggerated, emotionally expressive and I felt compelled to build on that.
I continued to do this at home, rather obsessively for a while, and noticed that I was giving them all rather glitzy embellishments. I found myself really drawn to the flashy nature, the colours and textures of camp and drag. Pretty soon every piece of popcorn became a queen of camp. I was in love and I had found my ‘thing of the year’ (my love is fickle).