I had the opportunity to participate in the fourth annual Upper Savannah Care Services' Dishing It Out. The fundraiser was Oct. 19 at the Arts Center of Greenwood.
I decorated two plates for Dishing It Out and was happy with the end results. The plates were among more than about 125 on display and bid on via silent auction. All bids started at $20.
The last two years, I talked with Dishing It Out organizer Joel Smart for a preview story about the event and Upper Savannah Care Services, which provides assistance to those affected by AIDS and HIV.
It was during the first interview Smart said he would like someone from the Index-Journal to decorate a plate. I told him I'd consider doing one.
When this year's Dishing It Out was rolling around, Smart stopped by the newsroom to drop off information about the event. I talked with him again and told him I would decorate a plate. I even offered to do two.
We walked out to his car and he handed me two of the most interesting brown/red/burnt sienna plates I have ever seen. During the interview, he told me people spray the plates to make them the color they want.
So, following his suggestion, I ran to the store and bought Kilz, the spray variety. It took several coats of white to cover the original color of the plate.
The Kilz also gave the plate a rather rough texture, which I liked.
I had come up with more than a handful of ideas for my plates and found it tough to narrow them down to two. I showed the sketches to family, friends and colleagues. In the end, I listened to their advice for one of the plates. For the other, I went with my initial gut feeling.
So, with pencil in hand and the sketches alongside the plate, I started.

I made a couple of swipes with the pencil. I took out an eraser and rubbed over the pencil. It worked, but there remained an ever-so-slight mark. It kind of reminded me of an old Disney animation when you could see the hand drawn lines on the finished film.
I chose to do my plates with Sharpie markers. I liked the bright colors and how they showed up well against the white of the plate. Because of the roughness of the Kilz, the tips of the markers did get a little torn up. I also ran into some trouble with the markers on color coverage a couple of times.
But working through those problems was just part of the learning process. Things did go better with the second plate.
When I took my plates to Two Old Bags, which was the holding area until the auction, there were some great looking dishes already there. There was a plate painted to look like Frankenstein, complete with bolts stuck to the plate stand. One plate had a painting of a covered bridge. Another had a pirate's trove of treasures.
This year's Dishing It Out was interesting to watch everything play out. Except for a few exceptional decorated plates, most of the bid sheets didn't have a single bid on them. People walked around and around and would work their way back to their favorite plate, trying to be as sly as possible. Sometimes, it was a glance over the shoulder for a peek at the sheet. Other times, someone else would go look at the plate - and the bid sheet - and report back to the person who really wanted it.
When Smart announced the bidding would close in 15 minutes, a more frantic dance was done around the Arts Center. People would scramble to put bids down on the plates they wanted to take home. Once they were done making their bids, they'd start the dance again, this time checking to see if they were outbid. If they were, another bid was placed. And so it went until Smart counted down the seconds to the end of the auction.
There were a lot of plates. All of us want-to-be-artists were in some pretty impressive company with the likes of well-known artists from the Greenwood area that included Jesse Nance, Colleen Tebo, Gene Shirley, the Smith sisters from Two Old Bags, and the late Skip Shelton.
One of my plates got a bid and it did go home with someone. That plate looked like it was a snow globe with a snowman and falling snow. I hope the plate will brighten someone's holiday season.
The other dish didn't get a bid. That's OK because plates that didn't get bids were made available at a discounted price. Thankfully, someone took pity on my plate that looked like a cartoon golf ball.
I would have loved to help raise more money for Upper Savannah Care Service, but both my plates did sell, which means they did their job by providing funds to the nonprofit to help our community.

Sitarz can be reached at 943-2529 or via email at jsitarz@indexjournal.com. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.