What goes into a work of art?

A few days ago I noticed a semi-finished painting by senior Mikayla resting on her work table. The painting had a series of legs collaged at the top of her canvas and a woman resting towards the bottom. To the left of this canvas was a sketch of an idea, “What’s the Point?” Although we talk on a daily basis how often does a teacher really inquire about a student’s process? After all, haven’t we seen it all? I have found that students tend to shy away from sharing their personal thoughts, but are willing to share their ideas. I was curious as to how she went from this sketch to her collaged painting. Here is what she had to say about her process. 

Sketch by Mikayla

Sketch by Mikayla

Before I started this piece I had already cut out the girl on the bottom I thought that could possibly use it later in another piece. I then chose it for this particular piece because the girl was in the water; it reminded me of the Little Mermaid. I cut the swimming cap off of the original picture and set it in my sketchbook. Lately, I have been interested in simple line drawings, so I started adding her red hair in. To go with my theme, I looked up “the dark side of the Little Mermaid.” There I found that in some version of the story Ariel was turned into a human so the Prince would love her, but it did not work. He loved some other girl. Ariel became depressed and jumped back into the sea where she died (when mermaids die they become sea foam). After having that in my mind, I look at my sketch. I still wanted to have some collage aspect to it. I thought, “what was a big thing in the story?” Legs. The Little Mermaid wanted legs. 

I got to work. I started cutting out all these legs. I placed them in a row overlapping each other. I liked the idea, “How far away should she be from these legs?” I thought. I was thinking that some distance between her and them showed some sort of representation. That she could never really be human, the Prince would never love her. I created a large canvas and went straight to painting. I added the sea foam at the bottom from the story I read. I wanted this piece to evoke sadness and I think, “What’s the Point?” really adds to it.  – Mikayla

"What's the Point?" (detail)

“What’s the Point?” (detail)

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