by Jianan Liu

I started to think about composing a piece like this one shortly after I finished graduate school. It was close to the Fourth of July and I wanted to draw something that would cheer my friends and me up. I’ve loved fireworks since I was a small child. The way they live for such a short period of time and then vanish in the sky leaving a memorable and beautiful imprint on your heart. Because of this, I decided to draw something that captured the fleeting feeling of awe and beauty that summer fireworks invoke in me.
I usually tend to focus on drawing figures engaged in various activities or in interesting locations. However, for this one, I wanted to focus on capturing the essence of the scene. The ultimate goal of this work is to recreate the finale of the firework festival where all of the remaining fireworks are shot off together. They are so bright that they almost make the night sky look like day.

My style doesn’t try to perfectly recreate reality, like a photo, but I found it very helpful to use photos of fireworks as a reference for this piece. I like to look at objects realistically and capture their unique features then express them in a really simple way. To get that effect, I decided to use abstract shapes to represent the beautiful fireworks. I started with circles and really simple shapes and lines. To be honest, they didn’t look like fireworks when I first started the piece, but I decided just to let it be. The work wasn’t very intentional as I just let the shapes lead me to the end.

Coloring is a bit challenging for me and I was afraid that the color of the night sky would be a little boring, so I decided to go with a purplish-blue that looked more interesting and light. I get a lot of influence from Henri Matisse. I love the way he uses colors that are rich and contrast one another, but somehow live in harmony in his works. Even though the elements in his work are rather simple, I can always feel the sincerity behind every stroke. With this in mind, I decided to use bright and warm colors to contrast with the background. I really love the result and I think that even if some of the shapes and lines don’t exactly look like fireworks, you still can get a sense of the atmosphere.
Overall, this was a really fun experience for me. The concept of letting my work lead my brain is still pretty new to me but I felt so happy and less stressed as I drew it. I think in the future I’ll try this happy, more laid back approach more often.

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