Completion of the Borders Project

So now I’m finally posting the final production of my art class “borders” project! Sorry it’s taken me so long to get around to this.

To start with, Dr. Salix gave me a previous student’s board to use for my project. I had to tear off the initial artwork, which consisted of drawing paper thickly glued onto the board. I didn’t take any pictures of this process, although I should have because it ended up taking way more time than I expected. And I learned two lessons: 1) Remove glued paper by scrubbing it with a rag and water and 2) remove the excess glue by scraping it off after it has dried. Of course, I learned this the hard way by trying to scrape the paper and wash off the glue…oops.

Once I had removed as much paper and glue as possible, I painted the entire board (which is over four feet tall and three feet wide) with white gesso. So this is what I had to start with when I came to class on Monday morning.

To begin with, I sketched a jumping horse (taken from a photograph) with graphite.

Next, I traced over the graphite with charcoal.

Then the painting began. Here’s the first wash of charcoal and gesso.

He’s coming to life! Next comes more shading and definition. I also deepened his barrel and drew in the fence rails for him to jump over. This was the end product of three hours of work on Monday.

On Tuesday morning, I decided that the rails were too dark, so I painted over them with gesso. I was going to completely white them out, but the first coat of paint didn’t completely cover them, and Dr. Salix and I agreed the faded look actually suited the picture. They gave the horse something to jump over, but their color didn’t detract from his. I also added in some background elements (the grain of the board and the remaining glue gave the sky a fantastic texture) and continued to finesse my horse

Then, more detail work. I added more highlights and shadows to the horse and the fence rails, added charcoal lines for tiny marks, and made the mane stand out more from the mountains.

Finally, after more shadowing, highlighting, and blending, the piece was complete.

So it was a far cry from my initial idea, but Dr. Salix was very pleased with it and I was excited with how well it turned out. As for the idea of a mysterious border theme…well, I guess it doesn’t have much of that. But, at the same time, if you think about it, there is some concept of a border. The horse is jumping over a fence, apparently out of a pasture, but what is he jumping into? And why is he jumping at all? Is he jumping away from something, or toward something?

Regardless of how you interpret the drawing, the horse is crossing some sort of boundary. Maybe, for me, this painting is almost a reflection of my past year in college. I stepped outside of several of the borders I was accustomed to — my home, a primarily Christian community, a room to myself, home school, a safe and secure environment without tons of sinful influences. It was a giant leap, and there were so many times when I wanted to run back to my “home pasture” and just stay there. Sometimes the “hurdles” I had to surmount seemed too great for little ol’ me, and only God’s grace helped me to clear them without knocking down too many poles.

At the same time, I know that there are more borders ahead of me which I must eventually pass over. New steps I must take, new obstacles to surmount. College, work, writing, relationships…only God knows where my future may lead. But He is offering those new opportunities to me, like a fresh, green expansive pasture, and I hope that I will leap toward them as eagerly as this horse appears to be leaping out of the old pasture and into the new one. The jumps themselves may be frightening, but I believe the landings themselves will be worth it.

What about you? What border and boundaries are you facing…or avoiding…in your life?