Lesson Two: Part 2 - Donna W.

Contemplating The Black Square

I found this assignment very difficult. First, it was tough to get started. While I was intrigued with the idea of creating an expanded square, the actual making confused me. I defaulted to my old standby research mode, looking up information about the expanded square and investigating examples of what it could look like.

Then, I had to go out and buy the black art paper, since I didn’t have any and didn’t want to risk further stacking the deck against myself by using something sub-standard. Once I finally had my basic supplies gathered, I decided I needed to look through my art cabinet for stencils to trace so I’d be able to make the “right” sort of marks on the edges of my paper.

At long last, I was ready. But then I froze. Because I’d never made an expanded square before, and because I’m not that familiar with the concept of negative space – no formal art training, which made me feel somehow at a disadvantage – I found myself re-reading the directions over and over, hoping to find some sort of clue to help me know what, exactly, it was I was supposed to be doing. Then I started wondering what, exactly, I was supposed to be getting from this exercise. Next thing I knew, I was berating myself for overthinking and wondering why I signed up for this class, blah, blah, blah.

I pushed forward anyway, biting back my panic (not overstating here) until I got to the point where I was gluing the cut pieces onto the white paper. Things started to make sense, and I began to relax. By the time I was finished, I was exhausted and had no desire whatsoever to make another square.

What I came away with was an underscoring of the realization that I do not do well in unfamiliar situations. I want to always know how to do things, and I want to know how to do them correctly right off the bat. As difficult as it is to recognize this, I know it’s valuable insight for me to have in order to move through what’s blocking me. I’m happy (and surprised) to say that I found myself back at my art table this morning before I left for work, contemplating another square of black paper …