Release your inner Matisse!

Do you remember your first day at work? I know I will definitely remember mine…

As you are no doubt aware by now, we have just celebrated our 10th birthday so I was indeed expecting some fun and shenanigans. What I was not expecting was to be taken on a RedBalloon Experience on my very first day! And what was this experience exactly? Just a little thing called Team Building Art Event for 10 people!!! Okay, so maybe the name doesn’t quite manage to capture how thrilling this experience actually was. But believe me, it was absolutely exhilarating!

To give you a better idea, let’s just call it: An AMAZING art-making extravaganza unlike anything you’ve ever been taught at school! Basically, our team of 10 was each given a canvas, buckets of paint, some rather unconventional art utensils and one instruction: “Create whatever you want, however you want”. We couldn’t believe our ears. Were they really giving us (a group of turbo-charged RedBallooners) total free reign in their studio? And what did they mean by painting however we wanted? Surely there are only so many ways you can use a paintbrush?

A better picture of the experience was painted (did I mention there’s a bad pun warning label on this post?) when we were given our uniforms for the event. I am not talking aprons and closed footwear. I am talking full-body coveralls, complete with matching shoe-covers, gloves and goggles. Don’t we look (ahem…) pretty as a picture?

Pretty as a picture.

Looking like some forensic squad straight out of CSI, it dawned on me that this was no ordinary art studio. A startled passer-by couldn’t help but ask what we were up to – “Has there been a nuclear explosion in there?” he asked as he walked by.Not quite as dangerous. However, as we entered the studio we realised some sort of explosion had taken place. The studio was covered in paint from top to bottom. As we hung up our canvases onto the walls, Niel Buchanan’s voice crept into my mind; “this is an art attack, this is an art attack…”. I couldn’t wait to begin.Imagine entering a space where over the next few hours, you are given absolute creative freedom. No briefs, no guidelines, no art teacher asking you to paint a bowl of fruit — the only limit is your imagination. I seriously felt like a five year old all over again. And just like any five year old, we weren’t expected to colour within the lines. The studio was literally one giant canvas so we were allowed to be as messy (err…) as expressive as we desired. And forget paintbrushes. Instead, we were given an array of random objects to paint with: toilet brushes, squeegees, spray bottles, jewellery, flowers, loofahs, hairbrushes…

Spray bottles, brushes and more.

As you can imagine, the whole experience was a ridiculously enjoyable process, and actually quite therapeutic too. The perfect way to release some stress! And for a change, I didn’t have any real concept or notion of how my work would turn out – instead I focused solely on the process, experimenting with the array of utensils and the different ways I could use them. Dip, splash, spray, swipe, squirt and splatter… we were just there to enjoy ourselves. Soon everybody’s artwork started to take form, each in their own unique and striking way. Some were evidently heading in specific directions, while others were the products of random, polychromatic chaos.

Polychromatic chaos.

Surprisingly, for the first hour or so everyone was very sensible with their art making. Well, as sensible as one can be when painting with a fly squatter. But all it takes is one little “accidental” splatter to get a paint war started. Nothing says team building like a paint-covered hug! By the end of the day, I couldn’t distinguish person from surrounding – some of us had transformed into colourful chameleons (don’t worry, the paint was non-toxic and most importantly, water soluble!)


Colourful chameleons

The experience ended with one giant group artwork, where everybody got to contribute to a brand new, oversized canvas. This time we managed a sort of tamed chaos. Yes, we were still splattering paint about like Pollock on RedBull, but we had all agreed on which colours to use and how much paint went where. The result was a uniquely beautiful masterpiece, which we then proudly donated to our Product’s team for them to hang up in their office.


The masterpiece.

As far as first days go, this has got to be right up there. I feel like the luckiest newbie on earth!

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