The Gum Artist
When Ben Wilson sees a piece of chewing gum stuck on the sidewalk, he gets out his paint set. Wilson is an artist who likes to make art using objects that most people would think of as garbage. He’s most famous for painting designs on chewed-up pieces of gum.
Wilson lives and works in London, England. It’s pretty easy to spot him when he’s painting a piece of sidewalk gum. He’s usually lying on his belly, wearing a pair of bright orange overalls that are splattered with paint. Wilson paints animals, food, buildings, and more. He often gets his ideas from people he meets on the street. Sometimes they ask him to make paintings for their friends or family. They don’t get to keep the paintings. The brightly painted gum usually stays on the sidewalk, where Wilson found it. It may bring a smile to someone’s face as they walk past it.
“By painting a picture [that] is so small, those that see it then discover a hidden world beneath their feet,” Wilson told Reuters.
Wilson has a certain technique—a way of creating his art. He uses heat to soften the gum so he can paint on it. Then he takes a tiny brush out of his paint box and starts creating. When he’s finished, he sprays the gum with lacquer, a shiny coating that helps protect his painting. He wants each one to last for years. Wilson even keeps records of all his paintings. Every so often, he returns to them to clean them or fix any damage he finds.
When Wilson finds an old wad of gum, it’s garbage. After he has painted it, it’s a beautiful work of art.