Large Work out of Smaller Pieces

The semester’s second assignment was built around the idea of making one large canvas out of a series of smaller pieces or ideas. This could result in a collage, several canvases arranged together, an assembly of several ideas on one canvas, or however else we best felt we could answer the call of the assignment. The gut thought I had–and the one I should have went with in hindsight–was to construct a cat out of multiple separate canvases that would span all the parts of a cat using various breeds. I know that would have turned out very fun. I know I would have loved working on it. But instead, I decided to do something that would assist me in my creative writing class, and create a book cover for my final writing project. I wanted it to be constructed like a broken mirror, with shards of  canvas and a reflective surface, and pieces of scenes painted on the smaller canvases. This resulted in me cutting up a sheet of metal and a thick puffy poster board and creating somewhat of a monstrosity as a result (I never was very good at cutting.)

At first, I was excited by this project, if not a bit daunted. I began to slap paint around on the first few canvas sections, getting my night sky ready where I would put the title, and adding some background colors to a few more of the canvas shards. Unfortunately, I was so proud of myself for constructing the canvas itself that I had forgotten to take into account that we only had five class periods to work on this, and I had a lot of tiny detailed objects planned in my piece. I don’t normally paint everyday objects, and in fact despise them for how hard they are to paint realistically in a tiny chunk of time, so I quickly became frustrated with the work. Nothing was turning out the way I had imagined it, and none of my objects were forming realistically because I felt I had to rush through everything in order to get to my final product on time. Most of the images felt like the one-hour paintings I had done last semester in my beginner’s class–sloppy, unfinished, cartoony. I left every class feeling more frustrated than the last.

Usually I end up pulling things together for the final stretch of a work, and can enjoy it once it comes together. Sadly, this was not the case for the Cloud 9 cover, for although I do enjoy its overall aesthetic and even have sort of grown to not mind the way it looks like something I might have made in high school, I still think I could have done much better with more time and more attachment to the individual subjects in the painting. I might love this book, so there is some passion there, but I certainly don’t love street signs and fire and indoor room patterns. Since that was mostly what this piece contained, it unfortunately led to a mood of frustration pervading this entire experience.

But although I remain largely unsatisfied with this work as a whole, I can appreciate it for a couple of different reasons: one, I actually built my own three-dimensional canvas. That’s something I’ve never done to this degree before. And even though I’m not the best at crafting, I’m proud of how my makeshift mirror composition turned out. Two, I now have a cover for a piece of my writing that I created myself, which is pretty cool. It’s something I’d like to continue into my career. And three, I once again purposefully crawled out of my comfort zone when I could have easily stayed boxed up inside of it–I can pat myself on the back for that. But I can also say, “Letty, what were you thinking, painting a bunch of crap you don’t even like?” It’s a win-lose situation. Hopefully I will have better luck picking a subject next time and will give myself a plan that I will have time to complete satisfactorily in two weeks’ time.

One Reply to “Large Work out of Smaller Pieces”

  1. I really appreciate your honest assessment of this project. Since you approached each section as an individual unit, I wonder if it would have worked to paint the fragments prior to adhering them to the metal. You can alway use the idea for the cat painting in a future project!

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