Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs!

I have, after much sweat, cursing, kicking, hours spent in the fetal position, and more cursing, finished the traffic signs for the graduation ceremony. In the past I’ve been accused of hyperbole, and I’m sure that some new readers out there are perhaps thinking that I’m overstating how difficult these signs were for me to paint. After all, can’t any reasonably competent person paint some arrows and block letters?

As you know, my first attempt involved creating some stencils of the words for the signs. I then discovered that paper becomes very wet when you roll latex paint over it. My stencils were destroyed and my letters came out in one large blue blob as opposed to individual letters.

I then decided that I needed a thicker material to make my stencils out of and transferred them to a large sheet of cardboard. I will spare you the details of how I cut out the letters; suffice it to say that most of the cursing occurred during this stage. After I rolled the paint over these stencils I discovered that paint, being a liquid, will run underneath the edges of the cardboard and again create, if not one large blue blob of color, then vaguely letter-shaped blobs of color.

This is where I adopted the fetal position for a while.

After I had regained some semblance of composure, I realized that there was nothing for it but to hand paint each letter and arrow. I had tried everything I could think of to avoid this very scenario, but in the end I was left with no choice. Of course I didn’t have a paintbrush and had to find one quickly. I knew that even though I had a fews days before the signs had to be finished, if I was going to paint them, I was almost out of time.

In fact, I realized that I didn’t even have time to buy a paintbrush. I had to start that day. My only option was to brave the Sanctum Sanctorum of the Weird; I had to go to the Art Department. So it was with sweaty hands and my heart trip-hammering in my chest that I mounted the stairs and knocked on the door. Now I realize that in order to be an artist one has to see the world slightly differently and so some amount of weirdness is actually called for and I respect that. However, the Art Department folks are professionals and in the five minutes that I was in the room, I was graciously allowed a paintbrush, told that of course my stencils wouldn’t work (like everyone knows this), discovered that it was Bring Your Dog to Work Day, and found that apparently some people actually like softly playing sitar music. I can tell you without embarrassment that it was a relief to leave the brightly colored and creatively arranged decor of the Art Department and return to the Post Apocalyptic stylings of the main hallway.

So all that was left for me to do was sketch out the letters, symbols, and arrows and paint them. I’m actually pretty proud of the fact that I didn’t paint a single one upside down, shut, or pointing in the wrong direction. As for the painting itself… It is mostly legible and I’m pretty sure that even if people find them indecipherable they will at least recognize that the sign is trying to tell them something and stop and ask where they are supposed to go, which is at least a step in the right direction.

If I were to number them in the order of their completion I feel pretty strongly that the Art Department would be able to recognize that I showed growth. Not high growth, surely, but improvement nonetheless and isn’t that what No Child Left Behind is all about?


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