Monday, May 29, 2017

AJ's Project: Free portraits and someone to talk to.

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou. 

For my service project, I set up my art supplies at Lake Ella and put a sign reading, “Free portraits and someone to talk to.” Several people walked by and quite a bit of time passed before a young guy walked by. He looked to be about my age. I asked if he had time for a small portrait and a quick interview. After glancing at his phone to check the time, he agreed and sat down. I asked him what his name was and he said “S**” I asked him if he went to school here in Tallahassee and he said that he attends Florida State University, but that he is not from here. I asked him where he was from and he said that he used to live in Jacksonville and that his family is still there. I proceeded to ask him about his major and why he chose Florida State and he said that he is here for the art program. This was very exciting for me as I plan on attending the art program at FSU, in the fall, as well. (I actually made him jump a little when I reacted because I somewhat shrieked with excitement.) I was not expecting that answer at all. He said that Jacksonville is definitely the place he calls home and will always have a place in his heart but that he needed to get out for the time-being. I understood this as this is exactlyhow I feel about Tallahassee. He explained how when he is here, he misses home and his family, but how he feels like he is slowly being suffocated when he is back home. I asked him if he works, or if he was just taking classes, and he said that he was actually on his lunch break and that's why he had to check if he had time. He said he works at B*** right there at Lake Ella. By this point I had the outline roughly sketched out for his portrait. 

I decided to use conté crayons for his picture. These can be kind of messy sometimes, but I find them fun to use and the results interesting to look at. They produce a picture that is a little different from regular pastels or pencils. The picture has to be done in layers when you use conté crayons. You start with a red color and you draw the entire outline. After that, you move on to using the white crayon to add the highlights. Then you add dimension with a black crayon. All the while, blending with the red crayon. The entire image is completed in an orange tone and it's really quite interesting and very different from a typical portrait. S** and I talked a little bit about art supplies. I asked him what his favorite medium was and he said he likes to make oil paintings. I was quite impressed with this because this is such a tedious media. Oil paintings take an incredibly long time to dry and require a great deal of patience. He also said he likes to work with watercolor paint as well. Watercolor is very different from oil paint in the sense that it dries instantly, but this is also difficult to work with sometimes because it is not nearly as forgiving. This tells me that S** is a very patient person. He asked me why I was offering free portraits and I proceeded to tell him about the service project assignment. He said that it was a really great idea and that he appreciates it. He understood that, as an artist, offering artwork for free is not always a fun task. On the contrary, I actually greatly enjoyed talking to a fellow artist, listening to him talk about his interests, and offering my portrait in return. We proceeded to talk about school and his living situation and how living with random roommates can be difficult sometimes. He said his roommate, T**, always forgets to lock the doors and that they had actually been robbed before. We ranted about our roommates for a while longer, until finally, I was done with his portrait and he was checking his phone every couple of seconds, worried that he was going to be late getting back to work. When I gave him his picture, he was happy to see what a portrait of him actually looked like when it was drawn by someone who wasn't himself. I wasn't very pleased with the picture. Especially his nose. S** had a nose ring and it was very difficult to depict with the conté crayons. He said he got the nose ring at Bink Body Piercing here in Tallahassee when he moved. I apologized for not drawing it right and he told me it was actually done well considering the messy crayons.  He wanted to learn to use the materials I was using, so I broke my crayons and gave him a portion to keep. He gave me a hug and thanked me for taking the time to brighten his day and make his lunch break exciting and different. I felt bad because I got little bit of rusty residue, from the crayons, on his shirt. I thanked him for actually sitting down and allowing me to take up his time. I was worried no one would let me draw them or even talk to me. We actually exchanged numbers and have even talked a little bit since then. He said he does not have very many friends here yet, despite being here for a year already. He usually just hangs out with people at work and that can get tiresome. I am so glad I decided to do this for my service project because I actually gained a friend out of it, and so did S**. This also eased my mind a bit about joining the art program at FSU. I was worried I would not know anyone at the university when I started. Now I know that I have someone to show me the ropes. This project has inspired me a little bit more to continue with my art studies, as well as to be more open with people and not be afraid to talk to others. This project went a lot better than I had expected it to. I was honestly very nervous about it. I was worried I would end up talking to someone who could be potentially dangerous or that I would get stuck in an awkward situation. I learned that pushing myself out of my comfort zone every once and a while can be a good thing and I can potentially brighten someone else's day.