Who is Sue and what is Suelandia?

Friday, April 29, 2011

The sweet life.

Hey people.  Today.  Today is one of those days people who know me think, "You make me SICK!"-- because it's the first gorgeous day in a long time, and since I am the boss, and not on deadline, I don't have to work.  Check it out, this is my view as I write this:

Food for thought:  Having new cars, a fancy house, the latest cell phones (or heck, any cell phone plan at all), cable/dish t.v., and bunches of other toys may actually make some people happy, but probably not any happier than me, who doesn't have any of that, but gets to take today off and go biking & running with friends and sit here in the sunshine thinking about how lucky I am.  Not gloating, just saying.  :)

But, I did work this week.  A sculpture I made several years ago had a very nasty mishap over the winter involving a snow plow.  One leg was entirely crushed, and the other looked pretty bad too.  I had to amputate her left leg.  Then I bent her body back into position, which took some doing because she'd been bent over and twisted.  Once I got her up and into traction with the help of some straps & the beam crossing the ceiling of my shop, I got to work reconstructing her missing leg.   

It wasn't as bad as it first looked.  I was happy her foot was still intact, so I just had to make a new lower leg for her.  I made this, gosh, seven years ago!-- when I turned 40.  I named her full bloom.  It was sort of a, "I may be getting older here, but I'm going to try to still be awesome" moment.

I worked on this pose a long time.  I was still learning weighting and balance.  I was proud of how she could stand on just her two feet, even though a breeze would topple her so she had to be welded to a base eventually.

I wanted her to be very pretty, but also sort of strong looking.  To me she is very feminine.  I'd love to have her body.  I made her dress out of metal flowers and petals mostly.

 I gave her an extra elaborate one at the small of her back.  I felt a little like a dress designer.

 In a way, even though I was really bummed she'd been damaged, it turned out good, because I got to really see her again.  This was some good work.  It makes me anxious to dig into my next big project.

I seem to have a real thing for making beautiful women.  I'm not gay, but I guess there's something about women I really am drawn to aesthetically, from an artist point of view.   When I first saw her I thought of how much better I could make her now-- covering her structure similar to Tina, but seeing the framework is interesting too.  Maybe I can come up with sort of a hybrid technique.

I really like how her head and face came out too.  I like, well, really her shoulders, her whole body I pretty much nailed I guess. 

The only thing I don't like is how transparent she becomes in her outdoor setting.  I had to hang a drop cloth behind her to get any decent shots.  That's the downside of the framework technique.  They "disappear" unless it's covered with something.

 It does make me excited to start another big project though for sure.  :)  Time to go ride my bike.  Later!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Thank you, pervy french rooster.

Hey people.  So, there's this rooster in France, who has a perfectly nice life on a family's small farm.  They just keep a few chickens and grow food for their own family and probably swap with neighbors etc, oh-- and there's a pond with some ducks too.  Sounds idyllic doesn't it ?  Well... ~insert seventies porno music~

This rooster, apparently, likes to get him some duck, when he can.  This has resulted in some rather interestingly feathered ducks hatching out at the old pond-- some with very fancy iridescent tails.  Nice French lady figured, "What the heck?" and put them up on Etsy and "Voila!" (as they say).  I now have myself some rather cool, if weirdly attained, feathers to make more cool stuff out of. 

So, be prepared people.  I'm not giving up on the whole feather thing yet.

This has nothing to do with anything other than life in Suelandia-- BUT-- I rode the trail again for the first time yesterday with trusty Pam (a partial lap), and again today with Dan riding the whole dang thing and does it ever feel amazing to be back on Penny.  Wah-freaking-HOO.  The best part?-- I wouldn't say I've magically become awesome over the winter, not practicing for months, but it feels way different this spring. 

When we rode today I wasn't a total all-star.  I'm out of riding shape, and as of last night have decided I'm fat (Sorry, I know that bugs some of you, but when certain pairs of jeans don't want to cooperate and slip right on, I can't help it, I feel like a cow)-- so obviously I'm not in prime condition to be totally killing everything that is even within my skill level, BUT--- the stuff I made I made a lot quicker than before, and on a few things I used lower gears (or higher-- whichever is considered *harder*-- big 2 instead of big 1), and the stuff I didn't make it was just, "Oh well, didn't make it," not, "OMG I'm about to DIE!"

The fear factor was pretty much absent.  Even previously scary descents that are super gnarly with tons of roots or loose rocks, I just kind of rode down at speed, knowing the bike would jump around, but not bothered by that.  It was kind of weird.  I'm going to have to watch it to not get over confident and crash.  Every other year is pretty common I've heard.  It's my goal to improve, have fun, and not crash big.  Prepare to me mine, oh-eleven.

Now another *new idea* breadcrumb for you.

Once there was a girl, who felt most like her real-self when she could be outside, preferably in the woods, preferably running around pretending to be a wild animal, feeling secret and connected to the universe and like a burning fire with sparks of energy shooting out of her like stars.

She really believed this was her natural state, and felt very grateful to have these times when her senses were opened wide, but she was alone in this.  She didn't know anyone else who would really understand this, and sometimes felt like kind of a freak.

She, like most humans probably, had ancestors who lived tribally.  She could no longer claim that heritage, too many generations removed from it, but she sometimes fantasized about only being lost from her tribe, like she'd been scattered by the wind, and that *out there*, somewhere, maybe there were others like her, other lost tribe members who'd become disconnected.

This idea didn't have anything to do with an existing culture, but more with the feeling that there had to be others out there, other women, who were as ~weird~ as her; who became energized by the same kinds of things, and craved the same camaraderie-- Women who sometimes laughed so hard they tapped back into their eleven-year-old selves.

Or who felt electrical pulses go through them sometimes, like when their bodies fall through space and wind is in their hair.  At these times they know, somewhere deep, that they are plugged in.

They try things, even if they're kind of weird or even dumb, if it sounds like fun.  They encourage others to join in the fun-- to be adventurous, and take risks, to dare to be as awesome as they possibly can, because life is short, and we are all lit fuses.

This wishful thinking became a knowing, that they are out there, this lost tribe.  We just have to find each other, to bring it out in each other.

Yes-- the girl in the story is me, and in this process of thinking of what creative direction my life/career (there's very little separation for me) is going to go now, I decided somehow this sensibility was going to be a big part of it.  Somehow I've gone from being a sort of complicated loner, to someone to whom community is very important.  This idea of the lost tribe is at the core of *new idea*.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sue & Kate's inadvertent white water adventure

Hey people.  Still in TX visiting Kate & the kiddos.  They're now old enough to be left every once in a while, so it's super nice to get some sis time in on these trips that doesn't include a screaming child.  Last weekend we took off for her lake house for a little r&r.  Our first day there it was super nice (80's, sunny) so we decided to take her kayaks out. 

 She's got one exactly like mine, and another more rounded version that-- (I can now say confidently) does not track for shit.  Like all sit on tops-- (and lucky thing)-- it is, however, super stable and won't swamp (impossible) and would be pretty hard to tip over.

Their lake is massive-- a dammed river with tons of coves and bays rimmed with very arid rocky cliffs.  The sandstone-like rock runs right down into the water.  Since the whole thing is controlled/owned by the army corps of engineers, there are no docks, and no one can build right on the lake shore.

Sis doesn't get many nature breaks.  She digs it when she does.  Anyway, this is a pretty typical shot (below) of the shore.  This is how calm the lake was when we left.

Right when we got in the middle, where it's 110 feet deep, the winds picked up.  It gets SUPER windy here.  20 to 30 mph winds are considered "breezy" conditions.  Soon were were trying to plow our way through 2' rollers, and keeping the pig of a kayak I was in pointed one direction was no easy job.  By the time we finally reached the opposite shore.  It looked like this.

Katie smashed the hell out of her finger on the side of her boat fighting the waves, but couldn't check out the damage until we beached.  It was bloodier, but she rinsed it before I got the camera out-- so, unfortunately, no point sis.

Since we made it all the way across, we decided to check out this side and look for the mouth of a river that supposedly feeds in over here.  We went into a couple of bays.  It got progressively windier and wavier.  We passed a couple of drowned forests/sunken islands but couldn't get too close because of the waves.  The last cove we entered, we basically surfed the kayaks into on waves.  I thought, "Man, it's going to be fun trying to paddle out into these."  (Yep.)

By the time we found what we think is the river, it was basically a thick sunken forest we had no hope of navigating.  We'd have been torn to shreds on all the dead trees poking out of the water.   We decided to make for a nearby island and take a rest.  Just then the winds got completely crazy.  Waves were breaking over the bow and spraying all over me so I couldn't even see.  I put my head down and just kept pulling, but it was so ridiculous I was cursing, laughing, and making these loud Venus Williams grunting sounds the entire time.

When we finally reached shore we shared an apple (thank God we had that) and drank some water.  We were pretty fried, and still had to get out of the two bays and back across the huge lake.  (The beach was made of the weird lentil shaped rock discs)  ~Weird~.

This was the hardest continuous paddle I've ever done.  I've had some tough pulls with Pam, but this was so relentless.  There was no resting once you began paddling--- it was paddle for your life!  At one point a shoulder height wave broke over the side and completely soaked me.  I'm sure an open kayak would have swamped or tipped.  It was a total struggle the whole way, and with all the spray from waves breaking over the front I couldn't see half the time.

When we were in the middle there were lots of big boats and jet skis, and I could hear boats nearby sometimes and normally this would concern me.  By this time I was so wiped, I just kept my head down and kept going and thought, "Go ahead and hit me."

By the time we made it back we were both dead.  I was glad I was with Kate and not someone I had to worry about IF they could make it or not, or if they'd tip their kayak or whatever.  I knew we could both make it, eventually.  When I got in the house (we had to rest a while before climbing up the huge craggy bluff to Kate's house--- yes, the same one we also had to haul the kayaks back up-- ugh)-- I had sand crusted under my eyes, and was totally sunburned.

A fun, even if grueling day, and the sunburn was my own fault.  Really, big adventures like this where you feel like you barely made it usually turn out to make the best stories, and be the most fun memories.  (Although she wants to take the kayaks out tomorrow or the next day, in the ocean, and it's even windier now.  Might pass.  Heh heh.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Saved by rock-n-roll or--- Be more like Jack White

Hey people.  Welcome to the second breadcrumb leading to *new idea*.  Watch the video below.  It's only a minute and a half long, and even if you hate rock you'll be amazed.  It's about being innovative, and thinking out of the box.



He is one of my favorite musicians.  The first stuff of his that caught my attention was White Stripes music (his first well-known band) because it was so unhinged it felt reckless and chaotic, but of course it merely skirted the edge of this.  After that, or sort of during the end of The Stripes, he joined another band, as a collaborator called The Raconteurs.  The music was another flavor, but I still loved it.  Then at the apex of that band's success, he formed another band with some members of a band who had opened for him on tour, and we got yet another sound, with his unmistakable hand prints on it.

In the midst of all his collaborating and experimenting, he moved to Memphis and started his own record label, so he could work with even more musicians and promote them and their music.  As a producer his job is to bring out the best in the other artist's work.  What he brings to the table is his creativity and expertise, but it's in service to the other artist's music and is more about them.  He said he really enjoys that, and likes to think he's playing a part in exposing people to great music they may have not had the chance to enjoy-- older music from prior generations he's trying to preserve.

What I love about this guy, besides that fact that he can rock my face off, is his pure creative drive.  He follows his loves and his talent, but recognizes the need to be agile.  He began his musical journey as a kid.  His drum set took up his entire bedroom, so he got rid of his bed and just slept on a bunch of pillows behind the drums.  Undoubtedly, playing was the first thing that *plugged him in*, but as time has gone on he's been very open to changing.

He's learned and mastered other instruments, and is now known more for his amazing guitar work.  When he became interested in creating some different sounds from the guitar, he invented his own electronic tools to use with it since they didn't exist.  He values and appreciates music very different from his own.  He's a huge Loretta Lynn fan, and just produced a Mavis Stalples album, and has been working on rereleasing some Hank Williams (Sr) music for some time now.

The more I thought of him, the more certain I became I could be this creatively agile too.  The lesson is don't limit yourself.  Keep paying attention.  Look ahead to new ways of doing things, but look behind you too, to see what other amazing creatives have to teach you and share.  Most importantly-- follow your heart, and stay interested, and you'll never run out of ideas and things to learn about and master.

I believe the universe rewards this kind of openness by allowing *new ideas* to flourish.  This is what has made me unafraid to keep marching into the unknown, more excited than afraid of the future.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Bread crumb #1

Hey people.  I know I've used this pic before, but I just love it so much-- it isn't mine, but I TOTALLY would love a pic someday of me riding with my girlfriends (my tribe), having this much fun.

I am getting back into the swing of things after taking a couple days off to recoup from the show (which I have to admit was not great).  "Failure" isn't as fun as success, but often more useful--- IF you learn from it.  Basically this show being kind of a dud was exactly the message I needed to receive-- "Yes dummy-- this formula isn't working so great anymore is it?  Change it up fool!"

It's scary letting *new idea* out of the box, because once I say it out loud it's *in the world*-- a stated goal/mission that people can make judgments about and watch my progress towards success or failure.  It's nearly time though.  Almost.

The idea has had enough time to incubate that it has reformed several times over the last few months.  If I would have said in the beginning what it was, people now seeing how much it has changed would probably think, "Oh brother, what is she going on about THIS week?"  I don't need that kind of negativity, and it kills creative progress.

I've decided to reveal *new idea* like a bit of a burlesque act, showing just a bit at a time, leaving a trail of breadcrumbs.  Not to be cagey, but to help show the process of how the idea evolved.

Problem--- My body is wearing out (hands, eyes, lungs) and since I'm a creative pro, I need to find something to do creatively, that's less physically taxing.

BUT-- I love doing metal sculptures, and am good at it, and feel I really could get much better at it if I can keep working at it.  I don't want to stop doing this yet.

Solution-- Find something else I enjoy doing creatively, that can supplement my income, and replace some of the taxing *busy work* of the metal sculpting (gearing up for booth shows where I have to make a bazillion small things that often don't feel much like my *real art* anyway), and allow me to only work on sculpture projects that accomplish my goal of furthering my art-- moving my abilities and talent forward.

This is how the search for new idea began.  How did I know what direction to look?  I didn't at first, but I knew I had to be completely open, and listen and watch for signs.  Sure enough, I began to feel pulled towards computer graphics, just curious.  I began exploring that, talking to people who do it, looking at tons of other people's work to see what is possible to create using these tools.  As is often the case, a series of *coincidences* that seemed unrelated at first, fell into place and started laying a trail for me to follow.

I blindly took it, knowing in the past my intuition has served me well.  That was a little over 6 months ago and was just the beginning of my thinking about this whole thing-- *new idea*.  It felt huge but was a baby step in the evolution.  That is funny because 6 months from now I'll feel like this--- me being sort of afraid to even say it out loud will seem like a super tiny step.

That's it for today.  Man, This wasn't even what I intended to write about today.  I guess the bra on the dog story will have to wait until next time.  ;) 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

April Fools

Hey people.  For those of you who came to my show yesterday at Burroughs-- Thanks!  It was great seeing so many friendly faces.  For those of you who didn't-- you missed the ridiculous ruffle boots-- BAM.  That is some serious boot action there, even if the pic is pretty bad.  (It's surprisingly hard to photograph your own feet.)

 Friday was me and Dan's anniversary, which sailed by pretty much un-celebrated because I was rushing in and out of the house (which looked, after weeks of neglect, like a family of bears had been foraging in it) in a distracted manner, occasionally stuffing handfuls of Triscuits or whatever was laying around on the counter into my mouth.  This state is known around here as *show prep*.

Lucky for us, we make a point of checking in with each other every evening, and say "I love you" and "Have a good day" etc to each other every morning, and do little considerate things on a daily basis so we don't feel the need to really bust out the big guns on such occasions like anniversaries.  We just noted it, and gave each other an extra hug and kiss, and I went back to scurrying distractedly around. 

But I just want to share a couple little things here, that will probably make Dan get all eye-rolly and embarrassed when he sees this, but they really moved me and I want people to know how awesome he is.

First thing is a small conversation we had a couple weeks ago.  It started with me making a joke about "dress-up day" referring to something we'd seen on t.v.-- little boys being turds and tugging girls skirts up.  The kids at a school I went to where we all had uniforms was especially infested with these troublesome boys.  We girls would automatically pull on our gym shorts under our jumpers upon arrival to thwart any "undie sightings".

Dan just looked at me quizzically as I related this bit of info like it was one of the weirdest things he'd ever heard.  I said, "You probably never did anything like that did you?"  He looked almost insulted and said, "No," like-- "who the hell would?"

He at times gets this look where it's like earnestness is beaming out of his eyes.

I sat back and kind of took a good look at him.  I said, "You've probably never been mean to a girl in your whole life have you?  Never tugged a pigtail, or lied to one to get your way with her or any of that have you?"  He goes, "Nope."  And I totally believe him.

I said, "I wonder if I'd have met you, way back when we were little kids, and we'd grown-up together and gone to the little jr. high dances together and all that, been high school sweethearts, if you'd have kept me out of trouble, or if we'd have gotten into a bunch more together."  He said, "I'd have kept you OUT of trouble-- or tried to at least."

He's probably right.  It was one of those, "Man, I love this guy" moments.

Yesterday I felt kind of like crap, and had a long day ahead of me, being on duty at the show.  He packed a "go bag" for me, and included a pack of tissues.  He started the car for me, and left a couple oranges on the front seat for me.  That's the kind of stuff that counts for WAY more than roses etc in my book.  Little gestures that say-- "I get it.  I care about you.  I'm willing to take care of you a bit.  I'll keep you out of trouble from here on out."

Friday, April 1, 2011

"If you like it then you should'a put a bird on it"

Hey people.  "Whu-oh-oh..."  It's load-in day.  I have a BUNCH of stuff to finish, am super tired, and my hands are killing, but here's what I've been up to.

I invented a new necklace, but need help coming up with a cooler name than "5-way necklace", so--- get thinking.  I've seen similar things, but mine is unique because of the placement of the beads, and the central pendant was a bit of a trick to make too.  Also the feathery "tails" aren't constantly slipping all over because they're held securely behind your neck by one of the beads.  One necklace, that's a totally new design, that can be worn 5 ways!




When the feathers are in back they can be worn long or tied up higher in a bow.




 One of the coolest things about this, that doesn't translate in the pics is there is a lot of movement as the feathers trail your movements that looks really cool.  I like it.  It was pretty labor-intensive so this one will be $45, but I'm hoping people see the value.

And of course I have the bunches of bracelets I've made.

 I also will have a bit of metalwork, only a bit though.  The one design I was happy with (It's very unusual for me to swing and miss on several designs as I did with this show, but the law of averages was bound to catch up sooner or later.  Also I've been hampered by the extended winter weather.)

Here are the birds, which began as sketches, and are each hand drawn and cut-- for the branches below.

They'll look really nice massed how I plan on displaying them, and are each unique, and I'm happy with them even if it is only one design.  It's more important to me to have something I can hold my head up over than numerous sub-par pieces.

Sheesh this is long.  Here are some of the feather earrings you'll be seeing on everyone pretty soon.  Mine, I can confidently say, are WAY cooler than any I've seen around the web so far.  They look super cool floating around in your hair as you move.  Pretty.

And I also have feather hair clips that can be worn numerous ways.



All this feather work is a bit of a test marketing thing for me.  They haven't been simple to work with because each feather has to be hand-trimmed, and clamping them together in the findings is a bit tricky too.  They want to twist around on you.  But I love the colors, which these pics really don't do justice.

Anyway, today I have some bike gear bracelets to finish up, feather barrettes to make if I have time (doubtful), and a bunch of pre-show prep stuff to finish up, signing etc.  If you are bored tomorrow, come say hi.  I'll be wearing the ridiculous ruffle boots so will be looking pretty fancy for me.  :)