A couple months ago I made a very large painting to hang at the front of First United Methodist Church of Seattle.
It started with some colored pencils and graph paper and turned into a 24 ft. x 8 ft. acrylic on canvas. Yikes!
This is the biggest painting—the biggest art project of any kind—I’ve ever attempted. It was intimidating and stretched me a bit beyond my creative limit; I was definitely outside of that proverbial comfort-zone!
Having had no previous experience with large-scale artwork or installations, the logistics of this project were a lot to wrap my brain around. It was hard for me to envision how the painting would look in it’s final huge state, no matter how meticulously I tried to mock it up to scale. I also had to take into consideration the architecture and color scheme of the church where it would hang and hope the final piece wouldn’t clash with the interior design, not to mention just making sure I got all the measuring correctly so it would hang at all!
^How’s that for a blank canvas?!^
I’m so incredibly grateful for some wonderful people throughout the process who gave of their time to offer consultation on the design and creation, help me gesso, measure and draw out pencil lines, paint, and hang the banner. I even got my dad involved while he was visiting me in Seattle.
^The jeans foot on my Bernina did an excellent job of whipping up seams in the heavy canvas.^
If you had asked me in high school what sort of dream art project I wanted to do when I “grew up” it might have been something just like this—a large painting installation in a modern church in the middle of a big city.
In my teenage mind I would have known how to do it and executed it flawlessly without being intimidated or stressed. I would have tons of training, a professional painting portfolio, and an MFA before I even picked up a brush to begin this piece.
Yet here I am, and there is the painting.
I needed a push to even start. I needed help from the moment I walked into the art store to the last rope that was tied to hang up the banner. I had no clue what I was doing the entire time and made mistakes I need to fix before the banner hangs again.
Do you want to know a secret? This is adulthood! So many moments start out with the tiny, safe stroke of a pencil and become bold, permanent paint filling big canvases hung for all to see. You figure it out as you go and find people to help you along the way. When it doesn’t work out you regroup and retry, and when it does work you celebrate not only the success of achievement but also the beauty of collaboration. We’re not in this alone.
It took me awhile to figure out that this project that scared me so much was, in a way, the fulfillment of a dream. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have given it a try!