A tornado popping popcorn will soon cover the wall of a downtown business.
The image is one of about nine small paintings local artist Manny Valencia has rendered for Maggie’s Popcorn, 230 1/2 S. Main St., Ottawa.
“This is my first endeavor of even remotely letting the public see any of my art because it’s kind of a scary thought,” Valencia, who has been a material handler at American Eagle for the last 13 years, said.
He said he’d never considered himself an artist — escaping to paint two to three hours a week to “unwind.” He’s painted his 12-foot by 11-foot basement wall — which he says his wife was supportive of — with three images and a redefinition of “Starry Night,” and most other artwork he’s done has been for family, friends or co-workers.
But recently, the owner of Maggie’s Popcorn, Mary Raley, approached him about creating artwork to brighten up the business. Each of the paintings, done with acrylic paint, took him an average of two to three hours. Other images include a “come again” sign, ice cream and the business’s logo — a blonde stick figure girl with pigtails.
“It definitely has been challenging because how does one do popcorn and make it look like it’s supposed to?” Valencia said with a laugh.
Several of the paintings, including the one with the tornado, are textured paintings. Valencia said he used latex caulking, mixed with paint and then worked with knives to make it “pop up.”
“...Each knife has its specific way of doing it, and so if you try it with the smaller knife, you’re not going to get the same effect as you would with the bigger knife,” he said. “The more detail, the more that you build up on it. You can’t rush it, otherwise... if you try to mix too many colors at once on there, it just becomes a brown, yuck color.”
Bright colors are Valencia’s go-to.
“I guess that’s one of the reasons I like [artist] Diego Rivera because he uses very sharp lines but very bold colors,” he said. “I’m drawn to that.”
Valencia said Maggie’s Popcorn wanted to keep things local, which was a factor in asking him to do the artwork.
“It’s been a neat experience, getting to [paint] things I don’t usually think about,” he said. “... It’ll be cool to drive down the street and see some of my work from the window, or inside the shop.”