Since this is an ongoing project my last day was just like any other day. Although since we had an open session the night before we had a lot of spheres that needed touch-ups so I spent most of my morning doing that. I left halfway through the day but came back at night for another open session which was actually the best we had so far. Most of the people who came today had already worked with us before so everyone already knew the rules. It was a very relaxing day. Even though today was technically my last day, I’m going to go help them on Monday at the Braille Institute which should be fun.
I’ve had a really slow start to the third week. Over the weekend they had over 100 people come in and paint so we took three days to prepare for the next group (tomorrow.) On Monday we were just doing touch ups (which isn’t very fun) and on Tuesday I was the only one who showed up. It was sort of relaxing though, all I had to do was finish 10 spheres by myself. So I spent four hours catching up on podcasts and sort of just wandering around the studio space. (I found where they store all the deflated spheres) Tomorrow we should have a huge group though so I should go mentally prepare myself…
Okay, as much I have been loving this project there are some problems that come along with so much public interaction. Now, social situations are not my strong suit and with this project I really have to be an ambassador for the organization. This requires talking to lots and lots of strangers every day which takes a lot of energy for me. So far, the kids are really good at following directions and listening to me, the adults on the otherhand are a nuisance. Don’t get me wrong, most of them are completely lovely people but every once in a while there is someone who is just terrible. There have only been a couple but I really don’t understand why some people feel so entitled to there mistakes (only they don’t believe they are making mistakes.) I had one lady in here who after I told her to color block the sphere she said she would and then proceed to not do it. When I told her again to do it she marked one spot (of the 18 panels) just to make me go away (which, granted, I did go away but just because I was so done with her.) Another family was not following directions and painting on the wrong side of the ball, when I asked them politely not to do it in the future, they responded with “the other side was painted by a boy with autism, he’s not going to last long here.” and a rude comment after I left that Leighton heard. Thats not even what I was talking about, obviously this family does not understand the meaning of this organization! Portraits of hope was made for empowering kids with disabilities and hardships, this was a upper middle class white family with five adults and a two year old! Okay, sorry, I’ve gotten off track… Overall it’s gone pretty well but sometimes people can be really hard to deal with.
Week 2 is halfway through! For three days this week I have to travel to Bel-Air every day. Someone donated a lot of money to this project and we are going out to their kids’ school as a thank you. I’m sure you have guessed by the location, but this school has to be the fanciest elementary school I’ve ever seen. When I arrived I found out they have a gatekeeper checking everyone that comes and goes and even their own archery range. If it’s any indication of how nice this school is, supposedly Gwyneth Paltrow’s kids go to school here (and there was a girl named Apple in the 5th grade group today so…)
I’ll admit I was all ready to have the whole “these spoiled rich kids” attitude, but honestly, everything has gone so smoothly here. The kids are the nicest, most well-behaved kids we’ve had so far. Even the parents who came to help are very open to the project and don’t get offended when you correct their painting (which is an issue most of the time, believe me.) The kids and parents do so well on their own that I don’t even have that much to do and on more than one occasion the art teachers and I have worked on our own “perfect” sphere where we don’t go outside the lines or make the paint drip. The two art teachers who are helping us are super friendly and talkative. Once they found out I wanted to major in art, they decided to try to convince me to become an art teacher.
Even though it’s going so smoothly, doesn’t mean I’m not working. These days are the longest so far, I had to be in Bel-Air at 7:30a yesterday and we worked until the end of school. I’m on my feet the whole time working with group after group. Everything just becomes a blur by the end, although tomorrow is the last day there so I should get a break soon!
So far I am loving this project. Everyone is really nice and the school groups that come in are surprisingly well-behaved. Yesterday we had a group of WNS 6th and 7th graders come in and I was the most popular person there because I go to Vistamar (okay thats a total exaggeration, but they were all very curious.) I’ve learned that working on big projects like these that it’s really just pick up whatever you can and help out, and there’s always something that needs to be done.
I have also met all kinds of people on this project, there’s a girl here who graduated from Vistamar two years ago, there’s also a lady here who used to be an interior designer for casinos. I’ve even met the Schweitzers’ neighbor Dores who loves to have me paint the top of the balls because she can’t reach (which by the way, she totally can, but it’s alright, finishing other’s petals is more fun than doing my own.)
Yesterday even Leighton stopped by because her work didn’t start until 12. She probably regretted it later because now my mentor is trying to talk her into doing a short film about the organization. However, it happened to be a great day to stop by 1. because we were painting the spheres for the Braille Institute and 2. we had a Neil Patrick Harris look-alike come in. All-in all, it’s been a pretty good first week, tonight and tomorrow we have the first open sessions that I’m going to, so if anyone wants to stop by and paint, 5-9 at the El Segundo Plaza!
I also overheard the funniest conversation:
“That’s supposed to be yellow!”
“It is yellow!”
“No, it’s green, you’re colorblind remember!”
So, if there’s one thing you can learn from working on the “largest public art project in America” it’s, there’s no time to familiarize yourself with what’s going on. From what I’ve read of the other posts, it seems like an orientation day was first to slowly work your way into it. Not here, yesterday was watch-what-we-are-doing-and-copy-it day, it was also, surprise, the biggest school group they had has so far coming in and we needed to paint at least 30 of these spheres (yes those 6-foot ones in the picture) in two hours.
One of the goals I had yesterday was not to notice time passing, a lot of volunteer projects I have worked on have been agonizingly boring because they just have you standing around doing nothing, so to combat this I packed my bag with my copy of The Hobbit, hoping at least I could get some reading done. However, this was (thankfully) not the case. Although we were technically watching paint dry, it turns out 65 fifth-graders are quite a handful and an ambitious project like, say painting 7,000 6-foot spheres, takes a lot of people and effort to get working.