Smoke Painting Show Provides Cool, Unique Experience

Story posted September 15, 2021 in Arts & Entertainment by John Westmoreland.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After a disappointing delay due to rain on Thursday, Sept. 9, the HUB lawn hosted Rosemarie Fiore for her smoke painting performance on Friday, Sept. 10.

Fiore leads a team of four gas mask-wearing girls working together to create a colorful and vivid painting the size of a small car.

The canvases were likely six to eight feet by 12 feet long and required the entire crew to move into place for painting. The performance gathered a small crowd of around 20 to 30 onlookers throughout its three-hour run time and attracted lots of amateur and professional photographers alike.

The concept of smoke painting involves painting with what can only be described as spray paint with a mix of other tools (mostly handmade by Fiore and her crew) added throughout for depth and color. It’s no surprise the event was hosted at an outdoor venue because as it started to become clear that this was no ordinary painting performance.

It was a paint that was light enough to float on the air and would create an assortment of vivid colors in a cloud when sprayed. Fiore has created a smoke grenade like painting tool and has attached multiple to a broom which, once lit, sprays a vivid array of colors directly onto the canvas.

It appears from a distance like fireworks are about to be set off, but it is merely Fiore lighting the painting apparatus to begin the spraying of the canvas. It is this aerosolized paint sprayer that allows Fiore and her team to cover such large canvases so quickly and allows painting to become a more interesting activity for spectators.

The tools Fiore uses to create such large paintings so quickly are as odd as they are large, from lawn mowers to brooms (not all of which were featured on Friday’s performance). Fiore’s all-female crew dressed entirely in black with full face masks and goggles to aid in Fiore’s creation of each piece.

Watching Fiore paint was more like watching a choreographed dance than a methodical painter making careful and precise brush strokes. Her movements were quick and instinctive and she did not hesitate to change or paint over aspects of the piece she did not like upon staring at it for a few seconds. Some pieces had a pattern of colors like blue and black, or orange and red, but others were entirely abstract and randomized.

One would describe her performance from afar as someone who is sweeping a very dusty (yet colorful) room. Her actions were designed for the audience to take pictures of as she often paused in dramatic fashion to allow the smoke from her stick to rise up in front of her face. The off gassed clouds created from the painting were often just as fascinating and colorful as the finished products that remained on the canvas.

Fiore and her team’s performance were a spectacle to watch and fascinating to take pictures of to share with friends. A selfie with the rainbow-colored clouds is sure to secure some likes on any platform it is posted to.

John Westmoreland is a first-year majoring in film/video. To contact him, email