My son Cael goes to a Catholic school, and every year for their auction fundraiser they have each class do a collective art project to auction off. It can be anything as long as all the kids are involved and they can start the bid at $100. The class mom was looking for a parent to lead the kids on their project, and I thought this was right up my alley. Of course, the kids in Cael’s class are only three and four years old, so they can’t do anything too complicated. After throwing around a couple of other ideas, I decided to do a Mexican folk art-style painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe surrounded by angels with the kids’ hand prints as the wings.
Folk art. How hard can it be, right? Wrong. It was much more time consuming than I thought it would be. I figured it would take me a couple of afternoons working on it to do the whole thing, maybe 8 hours, total. It ended up being closer to 25. The border, which I thought would be the simplest part, took the longest to complete, and I still didn’t do as much to that as I had hoped. I think part of that was due to the quality of paint I was using. I used a craft acrylic, and it didn’t cover very well, so I had to use several coats of paint on each flower.
The Virgin Mary was the part of the project that I thought would be the most difficult, but it ended up being quite easy. I printed out a large picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe and cut it up to make a template which I traced on to fabric with a fading fabric marker. I then painted her face and hands and glued the fabric pieces on with spray adhesive. I used hot glue to attach the gold braid for some added texture.
I’m still not quite sure I like the finished product. I feel like instead of using the photographs, the children’s faces would have been better painted in a folk art style.
Near the end of the project, though, I kind of lost steam and was ready for it to be done. I just didn’t have the energy to go back and paint all of the kids’ faces. I turned it in last week, and we went to the auction tonight.
It’s a nerve-wracking experience going to an auction where people will be bidding on something you’ve made. I felt so exposed, and even though I tried not to expect too much, I did hope my painting would sell well. Mine was the first up for auction. I had grown pretty attached to the project, and I wanted to keep it, but we’re on a pretty tight budget this year. I figured we could spend $200 for it at most. Instead of starting the bid at $100 as I expected, though, Father Tim, this year’s auctioneer, started at $200. We didn’t bid at all, and painting was sold for $300. On the up side, a friend of ours won the painting, and I was really happy for her. I know she really wanted it, so I was glad it went to her.
As the night went on, things started going for much more, and my painting was the lowest-bid item by far. The other projects were all very nice, but I could tell that much less time was spent on some of them, and it was kind of disheartening to know that mine went for less than half of theirs. I know that my painting went up first, and people needed some time to get into the spirit of the auction. Also, there were only a few parents from our class there, and they were on tight budgets as well. Still, it’s hard not to take the low bid personally. Maybe it wasn’t as nice as I thought it was? And I never was completely happy with how it turned out, but maybe the faces were not the only problem with it? Was it just completely tacky and no one told me?
I suppose there’s no point in second guessing. The important thing is that the project is done, and money was raised for the school. And I had a lot of fun working on it. Could it have done better with some changes? Who knows. I’ll just have to move on to the next project.