It starts quite calmly and sensibly: Okie, dokie, now let me have a look at the assignment for Week 2.
Then I slowly work up some enthusiasm: Oooooh, the Surrealists! Okay, I'll look at Max Ernst.
Then I start getting excited: Collage! Frottage! Grottage!! Decalcomania!!! Mania is good, right?!!
Then it gets a bit, well, manic: Thirty pages of frottage, grottage and decalcomania experiments later, paint all over my study and my hands. And my face. Yaaayyy! A bit more blue!! No, turquoise!! No, blue!! Yellow, yellow!!!! That is what I need! More yellow! String, where is the string???
Then it all gets a bit dangerous: Slosh on more paint! Yipppppeeee! Oh, oh, it is falling off the edge of the glass! Let me just wipe it back with my fingers ... Aarrrrrrrrrrgh!!! F^&*kity f^&*k!! Blood all over the place, tissues, plasters, antiseptic salve ... (and a nagging neurotic worry - is yellow paint poisonous perhaps? It says Cadmium Yellow on the tube. Cadmium - that sounds positively poisonous ... maybe radioactive, even ...)
--- Period of recuperation follows ---
Then it starts getting a bit academic: Hmmm, does this experiment make me think of anything? Nope. Discard. And this one? Nope. Discard. And this one? Nope. Discard. Perhaps this one? Nope. Discard. (Okay, you get the picture.)
Then I start getting mildly worried: Where the f^*(%^k is my subconscious?? It should be triggering all kinds of memories and associations and stuff. Asleep, probably, covered in blotches of blue and yellow paint. Yep, I knew it - the cadmium yellow is poisonous. It has probably killed off my subconscious or something.
Then a little more worried: OMG, the deadline is in two days, something has to remind me of something!! Okay, let's take this one. Well, it kinda looks like a wave, yes, yes, at a stretch I could say this looks a bit like a wave ....
Then inspiration strikes: Yes! Yes!!! Of course! Why did I not see this before! It is my recurring dream - (not one that is included in friends' wishes on birthday cards: "may all your dreams come true"). No, this is my recurring dream about a massive tidal wave!
Then it gets a bit frantic: Collecting pictures to illustrate the dreamscape, and allowing the subconscious to help me make choices for imaginative additions. A life saver! That fits right in!! Snip snip snip snippety snip. Oh, oh, a ship! Snip snip snip. And a goldfish! Snip snip. Yippee, another fish! Snip snip. A road!! Nope, that doesn't fit. But I so like the picture! I am sure I can squash it in somewhere. Roads are good, aren't they? Snip snip snip. Oh, look! Another road! To go with the first one. Pairs are good, aren't they? Road number one won't feel so lonely then. Snip snip. Oh, a milk jug! It is soooo pretty! I am sure I can work that in somewhere. Snip snip snip. Yegods, this is hard work. I think I need a glass of wine.
--- Period of recuperation follows ---
Then fussiness takes over: Okay, let's put the life saver on top of the tree. Hmmm. Nope. Maybe she should be standing on her head? That would be quite surreal, I think. Hmmm. Nope. Okay, let's have the goldfish flying through the tree. Hmmm. Nope. Okay, let's rather have the waves coming from the left. Oops, no, that doesn't work, they are curving the wrong way. Okay, let's put the road in the sky. Hmmm. Nope. Okay, lets discard one of the roads. Hmmm. Nope.
Then panic sets in: It looks too empty! Let's add more pictures! OMG, it looks so boring! Let me paint the background! Noooo, now the waves look funny! Let me draw on them. Oh, no, f^&*&**&*&(*&k - now it looks even worse!! Let me paint over the waves! WTF! Now I've spilt blue paint onto the white milk jug! Okay, let me take the words I was going to paste below the life saver and put it on the jug to disguise it. Hey, there is a piece of yellow background sticking out next to the tree! How did I not see it when I was glueing stuff down? And the chasm between the two roads, which sounded all nice and symbolic when I thought of the rather clever idea, now just looks strange. Grrrrrrr, I will just have to draw in there to link it up, or something. Hopefully no-one will notice that I can't really draw.
Then I start reading the instructions properly: The lecturer says that craftmanship is important? ... Jeeeez - what a demanding woman! Hmmm, maybe I should try and wipe off all these blotches of glue that landed up on top of the images. Wipe, wipe, wipe. Aaaaargh!! Now I've torn the milk jug's lip! Let me fix it with a bit of white paint ... No, noooooooo!! I can't believe it, my waves are all messed up again! I'll have to paint them again!! Hmmm, that is better. Now what is this piece of paper? It is my decalcomania-with-sponge experiment! I simply have to use it. It is so pretty! Hmmmm, I think I can cut out some round shapes. Now what can they represent? I know! Planets! Planets in the sky!! And this piece of paper?? Oh gaaaaaarrrr! I have forgotten to use my grottage experiment - the one that used the string. Oh my goodness. I must use it, is was old Max's big thing! But, hmmm, there is no space for it ... I'll just have to put it on top of something else that is big. The wave!! Yes, the wave! OMG no, if I put it on top of the wave I have no story - the wave is central to my dream! Now I will have to cut out little holes in my grottage experiment so that you can still see some of the wave. Snip snip snip. Stick stick stick. Now what can it represent? Hmmm, I wonder. It looks like a ... face? No, a .... pretzel? No, an .... elephant? Actually, it just looks kind of like a yellow & white doodle. But if I try extremely hard, and squint my eyes and kind of peer through half-closed eyelids ... I think it looks like a man on a horse. Yes, that is suitably symbolic. Oh, yippee, yippee yay, I am finished!!
And that is how you make an unsuccessful work of art.
The Lifesaver (magazine and newspaper cutouts, acrylic paint, pencil, using the techniques of collage, decalcomania, and yes, wait for it ... grottage).