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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Carlos

Atomic Bomb: How it's Made?

Here is to narrate how I have created my latest piece, aptly entitled "Atomic Bomb" for our Make Art That Sells Assignment Bootcamp March.

explosion of decorative patterns
"Atomic Bomb" | Acrylic gouache on paper and digital collage | 2020


Our first and latest assignment for the Make Art That Sells Assignment Bootcamp for the month of March is to create a non-objective abstract piece for the wall art market using a suggested palette of stone pink and salted caramel. As preparation and an excuse to go to nature, we were tasked to trace natural forms from leaves, branches, objects and observe the lines, shapes and textures of everything we find interesting. I have ended up with sheets of paper full with scribbles of forms, shapes and textures that I didn’t really use for my final work. The initial concept of a triptych on river plants was likewise scrapped.

My choice of colors based from Lilla's suggested color palette

Why? Because I couldn’t relate to it and put together a cohesive abstract piece. Yes, I have done abstract works but only when I did not want to think but rather just express something by splashing colors and go wild about it. Also I didn’t want my piece to simply look like I made blobs and scratches. I took a break from brainstorming, from sketching and from checking out our Facebook group page. We have a month to work on it after all.

Products of Procrastination

I went on to make another project also due at the end of the month. My concept was much clearer and finished it in a jiffy!

In the proceeding days, I continued being quite observant of my surroundings and even went to an exhibition that sparked some ideas. At home I rearranged my plants in the living room, laid a furry blanket, took all my inspirational resources and sat on the floor just to have a different perspective. I took photos of my houseplants and noticed how they are all askew facing the sun. Procrastination also allowed me to straighten them up, water and just groom them while studying their patterns. The most remarkable was their adherence to the Fibonacci numbers, by which I have always been fascinated: 5, 8, 13… and their explosive formation, always spreading fan-like and reaching for the heavens.


Then came a major distraction and disruption to every person’s daily life on this planet, the uncontrollable spread of the dreaded Covid-19 virus, which is coming closer to our homes. With it came an endless bombardment of news left and right, real and fake, concerned well-wishes and even more information overload. For someone who has been isolated for four years since moving to South Africa and have embraced a hermitic expat lifestyle, I felt even more quarantined. It’s mostly due to the worry about my family and friends in the Philippines and Germany, and at the same time not being allowed to travel freely and enter the EU, the anxiety of our resident visa in South Africa expiring in a couple of months and the insecurity of being vulnerable overall that was choking me, I wanted to explode. All of these were happening in my head.

a girl seated on the floor reading a book
Changing my perspective means sitting on the floor, as I am usually working at the dining table.


I was reminded of my former painting of a woman’s head exploding with patterns and paisleys and abstract blooms: “Thought Bubbles and Flowering Ideas.”

"Thought Bubbles and Flowering Ideas" | Watercolor and copper leaf on paper | 2017

Usually a sketch is not necessary to any of my abstract works but in this case, for me to focus and not lose my big idea, a rough thumbnail sketch was made. This also allowed me to art direct the basic form and the decorative elements. The form was going to be the A-bomb, a trumpet, my vintage Imperial carnival glass flower vase, a lily blooming, spring, flowers within a flower, paisleys, swirls, spirals and fireworks. I searched for that motion graphics heavy Coca-Cola ad from 2012 in YouTube. I will also add bits and pieces from my collection of decorative icons and maybe that spiral doodle I made for the mini assignment. My weapon of choice, acrylic gouache to allow me to layer and have more flexibility on my paint textures. I was happy and excited!

Also I turned to my favorite artists for more inspiration: Klimt, Gaudi, Nielsen, Arsenault, Art Nouveau and Art Deco as well as Picasso’s rose period… then I put on David Garrett’s classical crossover playlist and soon enough I was just painting and not thinking at all! Boom!

My go-to books and artists for inspiration with tea on the side

Taking my time and not rushing was a key ingredient to getting this piece to a place I didn't know I wanted it to be. I have fortified a style I have had all along. I must also add that now I am completely embracing my maximalist tendencies. I am really letting go and that was confirmed by our mentor, Lilla Rogers, when she highlighted my piece yet again during the live discussion, "Be you with a vengeance." Maximalism is tricky, as there’s a thin line between an elegant organized mess and clutter. I will continue to explore this style by making even more art. In fact I have already a series in my head just waiting to explode, like the Big Bang on paper.

The basic form of the A-bomb was painted on paper, scanned and composited in Photoshop


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