Painting: A collaboration with the homeless

Living in Oxford, every time I go down the High Street I see people creating or selling their own art, many of whom are homeless. Having been recently helping the homeless with my friend Irene, giving out sandwiches, spare money and having a chat every now and again, the homeless have now come to recognise us and often say hi.

I really like how the homeless often try to earn money by creating art or busking, rather than just asking for money, something which I haven’t really seen in my home town.

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Recently, Irene and I decided that it would be interesting to make a type of collaboration with the homeless, so we brought acrylic paints, brushes and a scroll of paper and encouraged them to join in the painting.

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Although we initially started by drawing what we could see around us, we later experimented with more abstract and expressive painting, applying the paint using our fingers, etc.

I also liked seeing how different people’s styles came through, e.g Ash likes drawing cartoons, usually selling blocks of wood which he has painted with watercolour and drawn sharpie cartoons over the top of. Here, he ended up drawing a zombie-like figure and a mushroom. We encouraged people to draw whatever they wanted, and many of them joined in and had fun.

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Irene and I really enjoyed this exercise and just experimented with paint application rather than developing a well-considered outcome.

We plan on doing a similar task again soon, although we will bring other media, as Ash and Jay have commented that they like using watercolours.

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