Monday, June 20, 2011
No Art Wars Championship of the World for this girl. I didn't even make it to the finals. (I got Chopped!) In the first round, we used our own supplies to create on a canvas size of their choice and a theme which was presented to us just moments before we started. In the Semi-Finals, we didn't know what materials we would be creating with, what the "canvas" would be, or the theme until once again, just moments before our starting time.
The first thing we saw was our canvas. A big sheet of metal. My mind started to whirr..... "Metal must be primed..." Touching it, the surface was slightly greasy. The next thing they gave us was the theme: "Modern" Ummm... Okay. Lastly, we were told to open our "Ammo" boxes to see what we would be creating with. Arrgh! I couldn't get my box open. Had to ask one of my fellow contestants for help. (Alex Clare -The One Who Would go on to Win Art Wars.) And inside the box?
3 tubes of acrylic paint: 1 large Titanium White, 1 black, 1 Cadmium Yellow Light Hue
1 red marking crayon
1 sheet of sandpaper
5 post it notes
1 plastic baggie 1/3 filled with sand (Sand? )
1 small bottle of children's blue finger paint
1 sponge roller
2 makeup sponges
various brushes (not artist grade - think children's watercolor brushes)
1 silver marking pen
2 paper bowls (for mixing paint)
Yep. That's it!
So what did I do first? Scrubbed the heck out of the sheet with the sandpaper so the paint would stick. Keep in mind that this is thin sheet metal and is prone to flopping back and forth on my easel. It in fact flops so much that it breaks my easel and I am forced to start working on the ground. (Ended up being a screw that fell out - which I luckily found and would replace about 10 minutes later.) I don't really have anything to wipe off the surface and so I just apply white paint and try to use the little foam roller to spread it evenly. The key word is "Try." It is a child's tool and is extremely ineffective at spreading the paint.
I resort to using my hands to apply the paint. (A recurring theme for me the rest of the battle.) I try to expedite the drying process by flinging sand against the surface. Some of it sticks but mostly I make a mess. I was so confident that I could create with whatever they gave me but my brain started to short circuit and everything I seemed to do resulted in a bigger & bigger mess. None of the brushes have stiff bristles and I couldn't get a decent line. Inside I'm crying but my logical brain kicks in and reminds me of my mantra which is, "I refuse to let a piece of art stay ruined." I know that despite the mess I'm making with paints that won't stick, dry or mix, that I will make something amazing and that everyone will love it and I will win.
But the DJ is playing music so loud I swear my ears are bleeding. It isn't even anything I know, much less like and I'm furious with myself for not bringing my earplugs. (Just keep swimming...) It becomes a serious distraction for me.
I didn't care about the theme, "Modern" as I figured that whatever I was guided to create would somehow end up fitting the theme. I'm an abstract artist dammit! Since 90% of what I create is mandala art, I knew there would be one, but also envisioned one of what my friend Debbie affectionately calls my "Big Boobie Girls" and saw her holding the mandala. What I was developing would turn out to be something along the lines of a modern day Mother Earth reminding us that she's got things under control.
I work as quickly as I can but can't seem to shake the feeling like what I am doing is the work of a small child. A very messy child. I apply more & more paint (much with my fingers) to try and make things better. It starts to feel like all I'm doing is damage control. One interesting thing to note is that I think I may have been the only person to actually use each and every item provided to us in the ammo box with the most challenging item being the hard wax crayon. I ended up shaving bits of the crayon off with the little plastic knife and applying them to the wet paint. Yaay for ingenuity!
In the end, I just didn't earn enough votes to move on to the finals and went home with the strangest feeling inside. I felt... nothing. As in I wasn't beating myself up (like I usually would) over what I might have done differently. It took me a while to understand, but it was a sense of "I showed up and did the best I could. No regrets." And I was really proud of that.
While I've been sharing my work on the web for several years, it had taken great strength for me to come out as an artist in my local community, and with the Art Wars, I did it in the biggest way possible. Right out in public with people surrounding me and camera flashes popping, I created images that reflected my own personal artistic vision and so many more people got to experience who I was as an artist. It was wonderful to have people (strangers) approach me and tell me how my art makes them feel or how they interpreted its meaning. When you create, you do so first and foremost for yourself but while feedback not only makes an artist feel good, it also motivates us to continue (for better or worse) to do what we do.
In addition to the experience of creating live art, I can't tell you how many amazing people I got to meet throughout this process, not to mention the additional opportunities it has created for me within this community I was so afraid of allowing myself to be a part of.
July 16th Connexions Galley in Easton, PA will be holding a live auction consisting of work from all 16 artists from each round of the Arts Wars - additional details to follow.
Additional photos from my round of the Semi-Finals can be found on Facebook under Elaine Zelker Photography.