As the 4th of July approaches, Independence Day here in the United States, I have had a strong desire to celebrate in an artistic way. Though my country has its complicated history, there are many ideals that I believe in. These are the things we have in common not just as Americans, but as human beings. How can I incorporate one of those themes with the visual grandeur and spectacle that this holiday also represents?

My initial idea came from some brightly colored paper towel I had left over from one of my classes. The colorful designs truly looked like fireworks exploding, one of the most arresting and awe-inspiring symbols for the 4th. The only thing missing from this piece was the light, the sparkle, the wow factor. I had a brief moment thinking, “Oh, I can use glitter”, which quickly faded as I remembered that glitter ends up everywhere.

Most everyone who knows me, as an artist and a teacher, knows I rarely use glitter. But there’s some good news for me, and my fellow glitter-averse folks: glitter now comes encapsulated in clear glue! Yes, I know it’s been around for a little while now, but I just learned about it, and it’s been a total gamechanger for me.

I actually have some of this glitter glue in my home. It wasn’t with my regular art supplies; I had purchased it for my grandsons to use. So, I went to their “treasure boxes” and got the different colors of glue out.

Next, I found a piece of light weight cardboard and attached my paper towel background. Mine was already colored, having been recycled from another use, but if you need to get some color on your background I suggest either bright watercolor paints or the marker watercolor technique in my “Burst of Color” class.  The more saturated the color is, the better this will look.

I had several other pieces colored paper towels from that class, so I repurposed them try this multiple times. I needed to see if my idea would work and get my hands steady with the glitter glue. It is vital to practice and become comfortable with your materials in order to see your ideas through to a completed piece.

This took me several practices with the glue to get close to comfortable. Because of the glitter being unevenly distributed in the glue, it sometimes glopped out when I was drawing. I exercised my patience to get this right.

After I got confident with my glitter glue application, and was happy with how the fireworks looked, my artwork still needed a little something extra. That means more searching my brain and my art supplies for inspiration. The answer was sequins!

Now, most of my sequins were too large, but buried at the bottom of my container were tiny little stars. I dug those out, and they were perfect in size, shape, and shine for the occasion. The perfect touch to complete my fireworks display.

Since I had the right amount of glorious sparkle and a perfect background to start out with, I needed to include the most important part of this holiday celebration. The ideals I hold most dear. Realizing that my piece, with the parchment-colored space at the top and the little curl of the paper towel at the bottom, reminded me of the Declaration of Independence, I knew exactly the phrase to add (updated from the original, of course). A reminder that “All People are Created Equally”.