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Painted Ukulele —Nadya Lunken Self Portrait

Painted Ukulele —Nadya Self Portrait

Choosing something to represent myself was a bit challenging at first. I thought about my interests and my likes; the things I do for fun, and I kept coming back to music and art. I wanted to create something that allowed me to be hands-on and to add my own flare. I decided to make a ukulele from a Do It Yourself kit. After purchasing the kit and assembling the ukulele, I decorated it with things that made me happy and caught my eye. I decided to paint the edges in a triangular design with purple and blue ombré. I took pages from an old book and lined them up in rows to make the front and back of the ukulele look like paper-mâché. I painted a tree on the back that has leaves of light pink and purple. I am excited about how the product turned out with its design and color.

I started with a ukulele kit that provided me with all necessary materials. After my first attempt at assembly, it was unsuccessful and I ended up having to buy a brand new kit to try again. Once I received the new DIY kit, the first thing I did was assemble the body. This time, while assembling the body, I gave more consideration to the design process, and having an overall plan. I knew these steps were important because of my first trial round, we’ll call it. I knew to decorate before assembling all of the smaller pieces, like the strings and the tuners. The design itself is something that guided me more than I guided it, because I liked to feel free as I decorate; whatever came to my mind is what I put onto the ukulele itself. I think the design is a reflection of me, because I do like to have a loose idea of what my goals and outcomes will be, but when it comes to the actual details I tend to go with the flow a little more. I knew I wanted paper mâché, and I knew I wanted a tree, but I was not sure how I would incorporate them until I was working on it. This project represents me so well because I am creative, love to listen to music, and I always want to try something different. The ukulele allows me to sing along as I play. I have enjoyed doing this since I got my first one about a year and a half ago. Some of my favorite songs to play are acoustic versions of current pop songs, like “July” by Noah Cyrus and Leon Bridges.

The process of constructing and decorating the ukulele allowed me both to learn new things about myself and to confirm some things I already knew. For example, I learned that not only should I start planning things out more thoroughly in some areas, but I should also start using that plan to guide me when there isn’t much room for freedom. I learned about my frustrations with details, because I was faced with different challenges, like creating the exact color paint I pictured in my mind. This helped me practice flexibility, because I know that things will not always go as planned. Lastly, it reinforced the fact that I do enjoy things that allow me to be creative and express myself. I did not enjoy the process of building the ukulele itself, but I am excited about the finished product which is what kept me motivated. I know I will look back on this experience with pride and a sense of accomplishment.