Portland artist Michael Bennett has opened eyes and made people smile with his display of painted wooden cutouts of cartoon characters around Portland.
Now, he and some partners have started another project, "The Hopefuls: Five Friends Made to Make Us Smile," designed to make people feel good about the world around them.
For at-home projects, Miller Paint and three other organizations have teamed with Bennett on creative art of characters that are representative of the natural world: Flora, an energetic colorful flower; Fawna, a shy, kind deer; Sol, a warm and bright sunshine; Bo, a happy, hopeful rainbow; Drizzy, aka, Drizzle, a gentle and soft-spoken raindrop.
It was released on Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22. Miller Paint will be selling a first run of 200 "The Hopefuls" craft kits, each containing one hand-crafted character with wood supplied by Parr Lumber, recycled paint from MetroPaint, stickers for the character's face from Rose City Label and a foam paint brush from Miller Paint. Each kit costs $20 and can be ordered by calling one of the Miller Paint locations.
"Despite the uncertainty of these stressful times, spring reminds us all that hope and healing do still exist in our world," said Puji Sherer, director of Color Marketing for Miller Paint. "We were looking for a way to connect people through color and community. Mike already uses recycled materials like MetroPaint in his pieces, so he seemed like the ideal artist that could bring all of us together on Earth Day."
Bennett, a former preschool teacher, loved the idea of inspiring families to work on a hands-on project together.
"I've been doing my best to spread positivity through my art," he said. "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."
Bennett, who has one million followers on Tik Tok, has put up wooden cutouts around Portland, but he also reported that some of the displays have been stolen.