(That big painting)
This story is old, and this post is short. Oh well!
It´s a story long overdue. It actually starts, in fact, all the way back in October. That was when there was a Karol Felix exhibit in the Nitra gallery, and I started taking an art class there. My teacher always has us do works copied from or based off of whatever´s in the gallery at the time, and so after I´d made three sketches copying some of Felix´s paintings, she got out these large pieces of stiff paper-cardboard and told me it was time for an abstract painting.
The painting took probably about four or five hours total, spread over several different lessons (it was a back-burner priority, what my teacher would lay out for me to continue work on every now and then). The painting was finally finished, and then it disappeared to wherever all the things I draw and paint at my art classes disappear to. I basically forgot about it.
Then, in February, my art teacher announced she was going to dig up everything she had in the back rooms from the last two years of young people drawing and painting in the gallery, and put the best works on display in one of the halls as a competition. It was cool to see that two of my pencil sketches, as well as "the big painting" as I´ve come to call it (though it´s not enormous or anything--maybe 4 ft. high and 3 ft. wide), had made it to the hall, though I didn´t even dream of one of them winning.
For the next three weeks all of the visitors to the gallery voted on the works. My art teacher told me that I was one of the finalists and asked me to come to the awards ceremony at the gallery at 9 AM on a Tuesday.
So I went to the ceremony, and was happy to see some of my friends from the art class there as well--all of us girls go to different gymnaziums, but we´re all around the same age. There were a lot of small children--lots of schools take field trips to the gallery now and then.
After a rather long, very modern and abstract, but extremely skilled performance of a kind of Sleeping Beauty tale by a group of maybe eleven year-olds (I guess they were there for the little kids, but it was kind of strange), my art teacher, who was running things, got up to announce the winners. I had literally just thought to myself "I´m sure I won nothing" when she announced my name as being the winner of the visitors´competition. What?! I got a fat box of 72 top-quality oil pastels, several handshakes, and lots of congratulations. And then she moved into the second category, of the curators´picks. And... I won first prize! (And another box of oil pastels.) I was so stunned and amazed.
After the ceremony I had six interviews with six different news groups... of course, I did perfectly fine on the ones where I was just speaking into a tape recorder, and I totally botched the two on camera. So embarrassing. In one of them, the lady asked me to describe the whole process of making the painting (which was really detailed and in-depth)... okay, maybe a fair question, but I have no idea how to describe what I did in Slovak. So I said it in English and felt like a failure. In the other, I just had a really bad interviewer, I think--every time I answered a question, she would say nothing and give me a blank look, and then gesture for me to keep going. Uggh. Interviews were definitely the worst part about winning--but the only bad part! I was really happy.
Not only was the painting much too big for a suitcase (it would have had to been cut up to fit inside), I never felt a sense of belonging or ownership for it, as I do with most of my drawings or paintings. For these reasons, and especially because it´s definitely the most "professional" -looking thing I´ve ever done, something I actually feel looks technically skilled and good enough to be hung on a wall, I always had the intention of giving it away to someone here in Slovakia. So last week I gave it to Sandy and her family as a token of my gratitude for being such a wonderful host family. I should get a photo of it, though, before I leave...