Sculpture Community - Sculpture.net  

Go Back  Sculpture Community - Sculpture.net > Sculpture Roundtable Discussions > Figurative Sculpture
User Name
Password
Home Sculpture Community Photo Gallery ISC Sculpture.org Register FAQ Members List Search New posts Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 10-24-2008, 01:32 AM
Musicman92130 Musicman92130 is offline
Level 4 user
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: San Diego
Posts: 72
I keep destroying my work...

I have had a problem for the last few years. I will start a piece and it will be really good and then I overwork it and destroy the life it had. For instance I was in a class tonight with my mentor teaching with about five other students and the model. I am the most advanced student in this class and for the first four sessions I got a ton of compliments and the model kept asking me to give her the piece.

My mentor didn't really say anything other than it was beautiful and keep it up. Then tonight my mentor came around and asked me what happened. She said I lost the life of the piece. As I looked at my piece again I realized she was right.

I don't know how to get past this because I am not conscious I am destroying it. It kills me because this has happened more times than I can remember. I was wondering if anyone has any advice on how to get past this. I would appreciate any input.

Thanks, Mark
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 10-24-2008, 08:06 AM
ahirschman's Avatar
ahirschman ahirschman is offline
ISC Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Boca Raton, Florida
Posts: 475
Re: I keep destroying my work...

When I paint I set a timer for 5 minutes. Every 5 minutes (I sometimes ignore the timer, but I ignore it if I have not painted much) I force myself to step back and look at the painting.

With sculpture I would set the timer for 10 or 15 minutes. You have to stop and step back. If you get in the mode that you are liking the action of sculpting and forgetting your target then you will destroy the piece, or wonder aimlessly through the work. If that was your goal, as many artists have set out to do, then you are on track, but most of the time it is not)

You may have to take 1/2 hour breaks, or 2 hr. breaks, or leave the piece aside for a day/week... so you can look at it with a renewed view. Maybe you have to work on two at a time.

Also, you have to say "That is just good enough" and stop. You are done. No more. As weird as this may sound, overworking art is what I think happens most often to artists.

Now that you are aware you have to just stop. Stop when the piece is good enough and not perfect. Nature is not perfect (On the outside...).

Hope something here helps.

Ari.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 10-24-2008, 08:26 AM
racine's Avatar
racine racine is offline
Level 10 user
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: hong kong
Posts: 919
Re: I keep destroying my work...

ask not just do
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 10-24-2008, 08:52 AM
GlennT's Avatar
GlennT GlennT is offline
Level 10 user
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Minneapolis
Posts: 4,213
Re: I keep destroying my work...

I have an internal mechanism that sends me signals when I need to stop working on a piece. Usually, it involves a shift in consciousness that translates from inspired involvement to staring at the piece.
Then, I give myself enough time away from the work to approach it again with a fresh eye. There is no particular formula for how long that may be.
It is more a matter of getting away from the work changing your perspective enough through different activity.

What Ari suggests can not be overemphasized either. Saint-Gaudens once said that he wished his assistants had springs and a timer attached, and every 10 or 15 minutes they would be yanked back away from the work to view it. I think that is a variation on the theme of the fresh eye, but also it is important to see the whole and avoid getting overly drawn into the minutiae of the parts, thereby losing the grand gesture of the whole.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 10-24-2008, 10:32 AM
mountshang mountshang is offline
Level 8 user
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Chicago
Posts: 235
Re: I keep destroying my work...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Musicman92130 View Post
I have had a problem for the last few years. I will start a piece and it will be really good and then I overwork it and destroy the life it had. For instance I was in a class tonight with my mentor teaching with about five other students and the model. I am the most advanced student in this class and for the first four sessions I got a ton of compliments and the model kept asking me to give her the piece.

My mentor didn't really say anything other than it was beautiful and keep it up. Then tonight my mentor came around and asked me what happened. She said I lost the life of the piece. As I looked at my piece again I realized she was right.

I don't know how to get past this because I am not conscious I am destroying it. It kills me because this has happened more times than I can remember. I was wondering if anyone has any advice on how to get past this. I would appreciate any input.

Thanks, Mark

Yes -- it is very, very tough to continue to add value to a piece over the long haul.

I agree with the suggestions to regularly stand back and look at the whole -- and yet still -- it is a very difficult thing to do -- which is why there's not a lot of good large, complex figure sculptures (or figure paintings) to be found.

If you want to make monuments -- this is a mountain that you will have to climb -- but you might also consider directing your energies to pieces that are smaller and quicker to finish.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 10-24-2008, 11:31 AM
Alfred's Avatar
Alfred Alfred is offline
Level 10 user
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Pomona, California
Posts: 454
Re: I keep destroying my work...

Hey Mark, I had this problem several years back. Especially in classroom situations. I would go down to my Alma Mater, take a sculpting class (since they are free to graduates), and start work on whatever the students were working on. I too was the most advanced in the class (although I was also the most advanced when I was still enrolled), and I would get stares and compliments from everybody, including my professor. Towards the end of the pose (usually about 4-5 sessions) the work would start to die. I realized what was happening. I would continue to sculpt, even though the work was finished, because the model was still there. I would start adding finger and toe nails, wrinkles and veins. The work looked like a well sculpted manikin when I was done. I hated all of them. Later, I learned to stop, even if the model was still posing. I would either start a second (smaller) piece, or do a portrait or something, anything to keep me from sculpting on that original sculpt.

Stepping back is crucial, but I imagine you already do that. You might try the timer idea, I did that for a while, until it became second nature to step back often. If your sculpting in multiple sessions, and the work is covered in between sessions, leave it covered when the model comes in next time. Start by looking at the model and the pose, study the forms and learn to memorize their shapes, then uncover you sculpt and look it over very carefully. You'll find a lot of things that need changing and correcting, you may even find that you can put more life into it, but study the model first!!

Good Luck to you mate,

Alfred
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 10-24-2008, 01:09 PM
Giotto Giotto is offline
Level 10 user
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Eugene Oregon
Posts: 502
Re: I keep destroying my work...

This is a problem that has no solution....the balance between overworking a piece and underworking is difficult to determine and is tied up with who and where you are in the process. Some sculptors overwork to death a piece and it's fine because that's who they are..i.e. driven to go after every detail..others not so much....then if your going after realistic figurative sculpture there is a learning curve which takes 3-7 years of hard consistent work. So it may be appropriate that you feel your work isn't as good as it can be. I dumped my first two years of work...that was hard,...these days I seldom call something "finished" but rather I wait 6 months or more and come back to it.

Oh and one other thing. I put in ALL the detail I can...even if I plan to drape a figure....then I take some of it out...I use my eyes as a guide..I think it make my work more subtle when viewed and it builds my skill level.

G
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 10-25-2008, 11:37 AM
mountshang mountshang is offline
Level 8 user
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Chicago
Posts: 235
Re: I keep destroying my work...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Giotto View Post
This is a problem that has no solution....the balance between overworking a piece and underworking is difficult to determine and is tied up with who and where you are in the process. Some sculptors overwork to death a piece and it's fine because that's who they are..i.e. driven to go after every detail..others not so much....then if your going after realistic figurative sculpture there is a learning curve which takes 3-7 years of hard consistent work. So it may be appropriate that you feel your work isn't as good as it can be. I dumped my first two years of work...that was hard,...these days I seldom call something "finished" but rather I wait 6 months or more and come back to it.

Oh and one other thing. I put in ALL the detail I can...even if I plan to drape a figure....then I take some of it out...I use my eyes as a guide..I think it make my work more subtle when viewed and it builds my skill level.

G

Have anyone here seen the Bruno Lucchesi instructional video that shows him modeling a small terra cotta figure from life ?

He spends all this time observing the model and incorporating the various detailed features of her pose -- then at the very end -- it suddenly occurs to him that the piece would look better if the pose were completely different -- and he drastically changes his piece.

Which is just to say that prolonged work might be devoted to higher resolution of detail -- or not.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 10-25-2008, 12:33 PM
Giotto Giotto is offline
Level 10 user
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Eugene Oregon
Posts: 502
Re: I keep destroying my work...

Hi Mountshang

I'll see if I can find a copy of Bruno Lucchesi's video.

There is a myth that great sculpture has to be fast and loose. For example, Rodin spent 10 years working through 5 iterations of Balzac at the same time he liked to sculpt pieces "all in one go" i.e. in an afternoon.

So I don't think there is any relationship between time spent or resolution of detail when it comes to great art. Great art (in my humble opinion) has to do with what's going on inside the artist and how successful they are at showing their insights.

I am really glad I'm not on "sculpting with the stars" TV show...I am painfully slow.

G
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 10-25-2008, 03:14 PM
Giotto Giotto is offline
Level 10 user
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Eugene Oregon
Posts: 502
Re: I keep destroying my work...

Here it is..part of it anyway

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrjwcqOTVtc

I like the part where he says "at this point you can go on forever with the detail"......I call him "Maestro"!

G
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 10-29-2008, 02:06 AM
Musicman92130 Musicman92130 is offline
Level 4 user
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: San Diego
Posts: 72
Re: I keep destroying my work...

Thanks for the advice. I am going to work on stepping back on a regular basis to look at my piece. I think part of it is I feel I always need to be doing something and perhaps when I don't know what to do next I should not do anything.

I have been reading a biography on Modigliani and they mention a story of when he was doing a portrait on Lipchitz and he finished in about four hours. Modigliani told him it was done and Lipchitz said it has not been that long and he should keep working on it. And Modigliani said only if you want me to ruin it.

I need to be more like Modigliani. Minus the opium and booze.

Mark
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 09-02-2012, 07:56 PM
nosarajr nosarajr is offline
Level 2 user
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Costa Rica
Posts: 22
Re: I keep destroying my work...

It's okay to stop anytime something is nice. Do ten nice pieces and then decide if you should go back on anyone of them. Do a lot of pondering before you make something nice even better.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 11-04-2012, 10:33 AM
KatyL KatyL is offline
Level 9 user
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Clovis, New Mexico
Posts: 269
Re: I keep destroying my work...

I aspire to a certain level of "polish" in my work, with other areas often "rougher". I actually want to move more in the direction of the "ultra smooth" Deciding when to stop is more like drawing to me. I think simply mapping it out-- since I work in plastaline not in water clay, I generally give myself a time frame to work in, and designate sessions for each stage. Usually armature building takes at least a week, sometimes 2 weeks, and the initial building up of clay takes anywhere from a few hours to 3-4 days. Finish work can last up to a month. My average has been 45 days per sculpture, but I am also not working on the sculpture exclusively and since I am only a "part-time" artist, I work only a few hours a day.

Although this seems irrelevent, I tend to see it like working on a book. If your publisher says you have 6 months to work on a book, you decide how to divide up that period (within reason, of course) and then get to work.

This is all a matter of "project management," logistics, and so on.

You would be surprised by how taking control of your time actually leads to "finishing" and not overworking.

I've also found that there are several "levels" of finish, and you could actually stop at any of the levels, or also combine the levels. I like Richard McDonald's work because he combines finishing levels, leaving some rough (at a level 1-2) and some other areas at a level 9-10.

Having a complete work at the 9-10 level is a bit like Jeff Koons, while Rodin's Balzac went from 1-2 or maybe 5-6 but not so much up to 9-10.

I think that by experimenting and continual practice, you find the level of finish you are most comfortable at, and which best conveys your intent.
__________________
My Blog http://www.crlarkinart.com
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 11-05-2012, 02:52 PM
The Forge's Avatar
The Forge The Forge is offline
Level 10 user
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Posts: 578
Re: I keep destroying my work...

What I have taken to doing is that when a sculpture 'looks done', I stop there. Walk away and leave it till I return to the studio again. If I am still troubled with the outcome, I will give myself a short period of 'fix it' time. Then just leave the work in its present form and move on to another work. If I never feel satisfied with that work, that is what it will always be 'a sculpture that I don't feel is finished'. Nothing wrong with that.
As for taking a class where you are 'too advanced' for the level. This is a time to challenge yourself, instead 'over working' the piece. Just take it to the level that you feel it is finished and stop. Then just start another piece. Not only will you be showing the other students how proficient you are, but also be a good example of how to not 'overwork' a sculpture.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 11-05-2012, 03:14 PM
Dries's Avatar
Dries Dries is offline
Level 8 user
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: South Africa
Posts: 225
Re: I keep destroying my work...

I am also guilty of trying too hard, by this I mean that I try to go beyond art. I try to imitate reality, an exact copy. Some artist can do that they just have the flair and the skill(years of training). I am planning a series of once of casts (how difficult can that be?) For me it’s very difficult and I think the only way to do it will be to get stoned and "just do it" The only problem is that the next day I would wake up and rework the pièce to smithereens. I have some wonderfully creative ideas for sculptures but the material seem to be my enemy. If I can only make my sketches a reality.......
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 11-06-2012, 03:26 PM
The Forge's Avatar
The Forge The Forge is offline
Level 10 user
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Posts: 578
Re: I keep destroying my work...

If you find that you are obsessed by the idea of making 'everything' perfect, then concentrate on one detail and make multiple editions till you feel it is 'perfect'. Then move on to another detail. This way when you overwork that detail you will not have to destroy the whole sculpture, just that detail. It also gives you the opportunity to do many 'studies' and still be able to keep the ones that you like as 'reference'.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 11-06-2012, 08:51 PM
Mack Mack is offline
Level 10 user
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: VA
Posts: 604
Re: I keep destroying my work...

It's true, nothing any of us create will ever be perfect...even God makes mistakes; Christ, look at the Republicans!
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 11-09-2012, 12:41 PM
Robson Valley Robson Valley is offline
Level 8 user
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: McBride, BC, Canada
Posts: 215
Re: I keep destroying my work...

When you're hot, you're hot.
When you're not, you're not.

I suspect it has a lot to do with how well I can sustain "right-side" while I carve.
Hindsight has shown me that fully 25% of my wood carving starts really did belong in the campfire. I don't believe that left-side/analytical can figure out what has been lost.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 11-11-2012, 01:30 AM
Richard Smith Richard Smith is offline
Level 2 user
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Posts: 10
Re: I keep destroying my work...

Try "scultura alla prima". I made that up, but following the unwritten rules of painting alla prima, try completing a sculpture in just one day or at least most of it. Rich
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 11-12-2012, 01:31 PM
KatyL KatyL is offline
Level 9 user
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Clovis, New Mexico
Posts: 269
Re: I keep destroying my work...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Smith View Post
Try "scultura alla prima". I made that up, but following the unwritten rules of painting alla prima, try completing a sculpture in just one day or at least most of it. Rich
I used to do that when I did work in water based clay. It's kind of fun to do one day projects.
__________________
My Blog http://www.crlarkinart.com
Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


Sculpture Community, Sculpture.net
International Sculpture Center, Sculpture.org
vBulletin, Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Russ RuBert