Up, Up and Away! Hot Air Balloons in Perspective (January 2012)

I love the vibrant colours and striking designs of hot air balloons, and the mind-blowing spectacle of seeing them en masse at events such as the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. As well as being great fun to draw, I thought this might be an opportunity to learn about perspective – the way that three dimensional objects are portrayed on a two-dimensional picture plane – in particular, how spatial relationships and distance can be represented. To demonstrate the point, we created pictures that are somewhere in between – a sort of 2.5d effect! After looking at some photos of hot air balloons flying together in the skies above Albuquerque, we discussed how the balloons that are far away from the photographer appear smaller than those that are close up.












Then the kids got started drawing three balloons of different sizes, decorated with shapes and patterns, before carefully colouring them using tempera paints. When they were dry, they were attached to a sky-blue background using tabs of folded paper, large ones for the biggest balloon, smaller ones for the medium-sized balloons, and the smallest balloon was glued directly to the paper. Unfortunately, the effect is not really decipherable in the photos, but by creating some actual variation in proximity (albeit very small!) the pictures were quite effective in giving an impression of distance and perspective. We ran out of time to add details, such as clouds and aerial scenery, but I think this would have really enhanced the children’s pictures.


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