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Friday, 2 May 2014

New Experience Challenge Week 17: Art Project

This week I decided to paint something. I consider myself pretty creative when I need to be, but in terms of visual art, I'm useless. I still draw stick figures instead of people. But I've always wanted to develop that creative side of myself, and there's nothing more creative than taking a blank canvas and putting something on it.

Ok, so I decided to paint something... but what? What on Earth could I do? The worst time to make a decision is when the possibilities are limitless. There's literally an infinite number of things I could do to that painting, how was I supposed to pick just one? Should I just start playing around with a paintbrush until something takes shape? Should I pick something that matters to me and recreate it? Should I grab some crayons and draw more stick people? I went around the house looking for anything art-related I could find. There were some oil pastels, some coloured card, a pack of coloured pencils, some connector pens and some old, dirty-looking crayons. No actual paint. So I went down to Officeworks to pick up some paint, paintbrushes and a canvas. It turned out the canvases they had in the size I wanted came in packs of three. That helped me make a decision. I picked up the coloured paints that I wanted and some very cheap paintbrushes and set myself up at home.

Now I'd been watching old episodes of Art Attack to get the ideas flowing. You may or may not remember that show, but it was an amazingly awesome kids show from the 90s with this Brittish guy named Neil who would show you these neat little artistic tricks and projects you could do at home, as well as large-scale stuff that you couldn't even dream up. I loved revisiting old episodes and it did give me ideas of what I wanted to do.

Like most artists, Neil was stuck a decade behind everyone else.

For the first canvas I decided to make a replica of the Port Adelaide Football Club logo. If you read my post from a few weeks ago, you'd know how much I enjoy the AFL and Port Adelaide specifically. And the canvases were the exact right dimensions for it, so it seemed perfect.

I brought the logo up on my computer screen and did some careful measurements with a ruler. I sketched out the outlines of what I needed on the canvas. The lettering was absolutely the hardest. The logo is full of vertical bars and boxes, which are easy to measure out. But the letters that say 'Power' at the top are a bit more complex and harder to measure. Once I was satisfied, I got out the paint and the brushes.

I was already feeling pretty proud of myself at this point.

Painting proved to be a tough task at first. The brushes I got were terrible for sharp edges and at first I couldn't stay inside the lines. I fixed that by using my ruler to place over the edge and prevent overlap. Sure, I couldn't read the numbers any more, but who needs numbers on a ruler? To do the tittle corners around the lettering, I grabbed one of the little wooden chips that came with the canvases and are used to hang them up on the wall and dipped it in the paint. When I was done, it looked like this:

Uber-proud is a word, right?

I had to wait for the paint to dry before I continued, so I started on my second project. Did I hear somebody say "3D Superman logo?"

I'd been to Lincraft and picked up some blue, red and yellow card. I stuck the blue card on the canvas to make the background. Then I cut the diamond shape out of the yellow card. I used one of the pieces of cutoff to bend into a little shape so that I could put it between the diamond and the background. The raised diamond gave the logo a more 3D feel. Then I carefully traced the same sized diamond on the red card and an S into the diamond. I had to get a stanley knife to cut around the pencil marks. It wasn't great. And I ripped it at one point. But it was nothing a little sticky tape wouldn't fix. I'd also cut little tabs around the edges so I could bend them down and stick it onto the yellow part slightly raised again. There. Done. Simple.

I might hang it up in my bedroom - sometimes known as the Fortress of Solitude
So this was proving pretty easy. I was starting to think I had this whole art thing downpat. I started to make plans for quitting my job and doing it full time. I'd make my living making sub-par replicas of logos and insignia. Because one thing was for sure - I was bloody good at this.

But oh how wrong I was.

Heading back to the Port logo, it was time to get to the hard stuff. The logo contains a silver arm brandishing a lightning bolt and it's a lot harder to measure properly. I knew how wide it had to be, and that information was enough.The shape I cut out of the silver paper I had looked pretty spot on. The next step was to put a half-inch-thick border on it in black texta and do the same thing to create fingers and a palm. I was completely blown away by how steady my hand was. If you've seen my handwriting, you'd know that I'm useless with my hands. And yet, by making a lot of short, sharp lines instead of one long one, I managed to make it look uniform the whole way around. But that's where the problems started.

I grabbed out the gluestick to try and glue it to the canvas. It wouldn't stay stuck. I tried smothering the back with it. Still nothing. So I started applying it to the front around the edges. And that's when I realised that texta smudges just as easily as paint. Smudged texta went all over the arm and ruined it. I'd have to do it again. But it'd gotten too late - I'd have to do it tomorrow.

On Tuesdays I get up early to produce a breakfast show at a community radio station. I got up at 4am as usual this particular Tuesday and when I got home at 10 oclock, I was ready to go back to sleep. But I couldn't - I had work to do.

I used the original fist to trace a new one out and spent forever using the texta to outline it again. This time, I waited for it to dry by watching the next episode I was up to of The Walking Dead. Then I gave the gluestick another go. Nope, not enough time. It smudged again and it still wouldn't stick to the canvas. Somehow this small amount of work had taken me three hours to do and it was time for me to leave to go back to the radio station. I resolved that once I was done there at 7:00, I would head down to Officeworks again to find out which adhesive I should use. Seven oclock came around and I went in.

The guy I asked for help was very helpful. I asked him which adhesive would work best for sticking paper on canvas and he said,
'Oh, I reckon spray-on adhesive. Because canvas is a weird sort of material, spray-on would be the best for it.'
He handed me a bottle from off the shelf to look at.
"Ah, perfect," I thought. "A big bottle of spray-on adhesive... For $23..."
The employee noticed my hesitance and looked back at the shelf.
'Or you could use superglue. That should work.' And he motioned to a tiny squeeze bottle that was $2. Yep, that's the one.

I took it home in to the warmth of my house and set to work making arm number three. Once I'd spent the time doing the outline, I took a deep breath and unscrewed the cap on the superglue. I placed the arm facedown on one of the offcuts of card that I'd used for the Superman poster and began drizzling the glue around the edges.
"Ok, I'm done. Now to carefully place it on the canvas... Oh no."

It wouldn't lift up off the card. I'd superglued the arm straight onto it! I tried to jimmy them slowly apart, and when I heard the disheartening rip I screamed and threw the tube of glue down in disgust, frightening my Mum and sister, who were watching My Kitchen Rules at the time.

Well... what could I do? I made another one. It was probably 11 oclock at night when I finished the fouth one. I made sure that the superglue didn't come to the edges this time. It stuck on perfectly and finally that part of it was done. Now all I had to do was make the lightning bolt.

That ended up being just as easy as the rest of it. I went back to my laptop and took another look at the original Port logo, then I blew it up so it was the same size as the canvas, flipped the laptop onto its back and traced the lightning bolt using printing paper. I cut the paper out, making sure to adjust for the slightly different size of my home made arm and stuck it on using the superglue as well. Relieved, I took a picture of my final product.

I'm delirious with joy and fatigue.
So those were my two pieces of art that made up my new thing for this week. It was frustrating and time consuming, but it was worth it. Huh? Third canvas? What third canvas? I don't remember mentioning a third canvas, what are you talking about?

Oh, fine.

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