PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland’s favorite viral artist is at it again.
Mike Bennett, who you may remember from his cartoon character cut out scavenger hunts, is pairing up with Miller Paint so you can create your own cute wooden painting for Earth Day.
Beginning on April 22, you will be able to call any of the four Miller Paint locations to curbside pick up or have a kit delivered to your home for $20. Included in the kit is a cutout, made with wood supplied by Parr Lumber, of your choice, a sticker sheet from Rose City Label, so you can emulate Bennett’s signature cartoon look, paint provided by MetroPaint, and a foam brush provided by Miller Paint.
Who are the characters you have to choose from? Well, the ever-creative Bennett has created five spring-themed cuties and they make up The Hopefuls: Five Friends Made to Make Us Smile.
The Hopefuls include: Flora, an energetic, colorful flower; Fawna, a shy, kind deer; Sol, a warm and bright sunshine; Bo, a happy, hopeful rainbow; and Drizzy, aka Drizzle, a gentle and soft-spoken raindrop.
“I’ve been doing my best to spread positivity through my art. Folks all over the city are hiding things in their windows and front yards for kiddos and families to hunt for on their daily walks. I loved the idea of creating original characters that could make people’s days just a little bit better,” said Bennett.
Though the paint is provided, Bennett encourages people to get creative with their wooden cutouts.
“They don’t even have to use the paint in the kit if they don’t want to they can paint it however they want,” he said.
Bennett had planned to do something for the city along the lines of this project but he said pairing with Miller Paint offered him an amazing opportunity. “It’s exactly what I want to be doing and the fact that someone was willing to spearhead the nitty-gritty parts and let me go to town and design it all was really incredible. I couldn’t have asked for a smoother operation.”
Bennett hopes that families will take the time the create their own cute Hopeful characters and put them in their windows or on their lawns for others to enjoy.
“I think the aspect of like ‘Oh hey look there’s this thing I get to do with my family in an afternoon’ and then you can take it put in in the front yard of your window and you get to see other people enjoy them as they walk by and you get to double down in the aspect of looking for other ones yourself,” Bennett said. “I’m a sucker for gamifying anything leaving the house and having something to look for allows you to soak in your neighborhood more too.”
If you or your family create a Hopeful or spot one, Miller Paint and Bennett ask you to take a photo and share it on Instagram with the hashtag #thehopefulspdx.
The proceeds from these kits will be given to Bennett, but he told KGW he plans to donate a good chunk of the proceeds to the local nonprofit Family Meal PDX.
But that is no surprise, Bennett has been using his art to make other smile and benefit charities since he began making the cutouts.
Recently, Bennett had a theft on his lawn. Eleven of 12 pieces that normally sat on his lawn for others to enjoy as they strolled by, were stolen.
Faced with a challenge, Bennett found a way to spin it into something positive and created another project. Like the Hopefuls, it is bringing joy to his very own neighborhood.
The A-Zoo is an art installation that is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day. Bennett is creating an animal to correspond to the letter of the alphabet of the day. Not only is he creating alphabetical animal pals for his neighborhood he is uploading an education video about the animal to his Instagram and TikTok for people to enjoy.
An in his yard there is a place for tips to go to One Tail at a Time, which is a Portland-based dog rescue.
“I am having just the best time making them. So, the video is kind of like a partner to the piece itself and I am putting it out in front of my house for everyone to see,” said Bennett. “When the pieces for stolen everyone expressed sadness about missing them because they would come by to visit. This project I am doing now would not have happened if that [the theft] didn’t happen.”
You can bring home your own Mike Bennett Art inspired craft by calling Miller Paint at any of its four locations beginning April 22.