Retired balloon artist’s work on show at Wisconsin festival

More than 30 hot air balloons took to the skies from 5th to 7th February this year, including four vintage balloons which were hand painted by Charlie Markert.

The balloon rally took place for the 27th year in Hudson, Wisconsin. The theme for 2016 was ‘Paint the Sky’ and thousands of visitors travelled to St Croix to join in the fun. Balloon launches were scheduled for both the Saturday and Sunday mornings. A display of the balloons was also arranged for the ground, called the ‘Moon Glow’ which allowed visitors to get up close and personal with the balloons.

Markert is now retired from painting, a subject which he studied alongside artists from Germany while he was a US paratrooper during the 1950s. The artist then started work for a company which specialised in painting billboards. Some of the canvases could be as large as 20ft high and 40ft long.

His first commission for painting a hot air balloon came in 1979, when he was asked to design a balloon based on the Golden Grahams cereal packaging. According to Markert, he had to position himself around five feet away from the balloon canvas, which was draped over an easel 20ft tall. He stated that he never really knew what it would look like until fully inflated in the air.

Although his hand painted balloons were the talk of the Hudson Hot Air Affair festival, there were plenty of other events taking place throughout the weekend, including an educational event about hot air balloons.

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