Who is Sue and what is Suelandia?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Changing it up 2: work

Hey people.  More victory from the jaws of defeat today.  All of the pieces I brought to Seasons (gallery) last week were pieces that had given me trouble.  They were ideas I'd had and projects I'd begun that major things had gone wrong with; basically in one way or another they had been ruined.  In some cases it took me a while to see past what hadn't worked.  That is the skill that failure teaches us I think: the ability to move on from what our expectation had been; to clear the slate and move forward.

This is just a small piece that can sit on a shelf or hang on a wall.  It began its life as a water heater.  When i got a hold of it I attempted to make a vessel out of it.  I can't even remember why I didn't like it, but it didn't work out and this half of it languished in my scrap pile for years.  I happened on it digging around for something and suddenly it looked really beautiful to me.  Probably because I'd forgotten what my initial idea was, it no longer looked like a failure to me.  So I made this out of it.

This is from the same water heater.  There is something really cool about the industrial look blended with nature.  Not sure why, but I like it, and it would look awesome on a colored wall.

This one-- I can't even tell you how different it looks now from how it began.  I got it as a clean sheet, and it began to develop this really pretty sheen of rust on it.  To many people that sounds weird, but to my eyes there is a whole rainbow of rust out there.  I wanted more of it; for it to take over more of the surface before I began working with it.  I let it go too long and that particular patina was lost, so I shook that off and began painting it, working in shades of white and taupe.  I wanted a gauzy effect.  the rust kept eating right through, obliterating my idea instead of enhancing it.  I had to completely let go of my vision for it and began just taking it day by day; seeing what the rust did overnight and trying to work with rather than against it.  It came out cool I think.

 This picture doesn't do the piece justice at all.  The lighting is terrible!  But-- it is probably the coolest piece I've done in a long time.  And man oh man, was this thing ever a dog in it's past lives.  It has been painted, lain upside-down on grass for long periods of time to get the grass to rust and bite into the paint, then worked on some more, over-worked and ruined by too much paint and fooling with, turpentined twice...

An unrelated failure even played a part in this one.  A Halloween costume idea I had involved some gluing.  After spending HOURS gluing (still top secret so I can't go into detail), the glue failed.  All the bits I'd been laboriously placing peeled off with the glue.  Arrrggg!!!  But wait-- what can I do with glue that sticks at first but then peels off?  Draw branches, paint over them, then peel to reveal the gorgeous rust below the layers of paint.  Voila.

This technique opens up a whole new world of possibilities I'd never have found if not for some pretty big setbacks.

Look, when plans go to poo there is no denying that sucks.  But try to remember-- dissatifaction can be a valuable driver.  No one ever made any big move out of complacency.  And the ability to jump tracks and ferret out a win is a learned skill.  Of course you don't magically hop from failure straight into success every time, but continuing to move forward will get you way better results than giving up.

"There are no *bad* experiences," a saying goes, "You either succeed or you learn something."


Anonymous said...

Some of the greatest advances in human history have come from "failures".

I like all the stuff you posted here, but particularly those last two. Nice work.

Maery Rose said...

I love this post! It speaks to me... :)

That last piece is beautiful! But I do like the one before that the best. Something about it seems to symbolize to me both sharpness and warmth. There's some water in there too. It's a cool combination.

Lynn Fisher said...

Love the subject of victory from defeat...I think the best discoveries we were made while completely looking for something else and failing at it. Love your pieces!