Friday, May 19, 2006

Shoe Saga

We were also supposed to bring lots of doo-dads and Michael had additional doo-dads to share. I have a decent collection of charms and old earrings and beads and smashed bottle caps, etc. I hauled them all to the class.

Then we began the assembly. We used Liquid Nails in a giant caulk gun. Michael suggested spreading the excess glue around and making it all bumpy and tacky for texture. Ok. I went for it. Didn't love that. But I just kept going. Sometimes just moving forward is good.

I also used some E6000. Mixed media people know all about this. Apparently it is the consumate glue for heavy stuff. I liked that better, but it dried slower. Have I mentioned before that I'm not so good in the patience department?

It was fun. I just kept adding stuff I liked. Swirls, pointy stuff, a plastic frog, wooden parrots, hand and face charms, jingle bells, tiny barbie shoes. That was all before lunch.

After lunch, I froze. This is when we were to have our foundation done and begin painting. Painting?! I. Am. So. Not. A. Painter.

We were supposed to do entire layers of paint over the whole thing to tie all the elements together. Apparently this is called a wash. Michael gave us several little demos with various paint combinations. There was something that he loved called Quinacra-something.

Michael had suggested that I be careful not to cover all the lovely red of the shoes. But, wait... you just said do a wash over the entire piece. Which is it, artist boy? He also said something about doing a "wash" of white under. This is like putting sunlight behind the top color. Apparently.

So, I started with the white. I was trying to tell myself to just keep going like before lunch.

Michael strolled by a few times and eventually he asked me where I was going with the shoe. No idea, obviously. This is when he said, "Well, let's let this layer of paint get really really dry. Then we'll try a wash. " I guess I wasn't doing a wash before. Clearly we needed to let the paint I had already slapped on get dry... so we could paint over it!

I asked if he would mix the paint for me and tell me exactly which brush to use and where to paint. He agreed. Then I went to the bathroom while the bad paint dried.

This is when I realized I was "that student." You know, you've had her in every class you've ever taken. She just doesn't get it. She has good intentions and is trying (mostly.) But she's out of her element and the teacher has to work extra hard to encourage her and give her elementary direction. Sigh. This cracked me up actually. It's funny to turn into someone you didn't expect.

So Michael mixed me a reddish wash that was very similar to the color of the shoe. I painted it over everything and it really did tie all those random pieces together. It was looking better. Especially since I'd embraced my ineptness.

Michael's pieces have layers and layers of paint. I stopped with the red wash. Then I added some paper collage elements. I do love clipping from magazines, so that was more comfortable.

Here's a small group of the shoes that were made in the class. You see my red shoe in the back. It is actually meant to hang on a wall with the toe pointing up.

I completed the whole project during the class which is excellent! So often I've taken a class and been very pleased with the project, but getting over the hump to finish it at home sometimes doesn't happen. (Can you relate?)

I was pleased with the finished shoe at the end of class.

I've studied it since then and thought, "What was I thinking?" It's definetely one of those pieces of "art" that you say, Hmmmm that's interesting. And not neccessarily in a good way.

Here's another funny detail about my troublesome class status. Michael gave a brief critique of each shoe at the end of class. When he came to mine, he noted that the shoe was made so much better after I added the line of white dots around the frame of the shoe. This brings your eye to all the stuff going on inside. Then he quickly moved onto the next shoe. Of course, he told me to add those white dots. I was just following directions. He was right, though.

Here you can see the dots and some of the interior stuff. The clippings on the upside down birds say "find yourself."

And the clippings on either side of the face charm say, "stand still." Get it? A little foot/shoe pun there.

What did I learn from this class? I love fabric. Of course, I knew that.

I also think I am best served by staying focused. I love the idea of assemblage and I will certainly incorporate it into some of my fiber art. But I don't think I'll be shopping for shoes at the thrift store much... unless they are actually for wearing.

Now, finding other art supplies at the thrift store is another store. I am definetely on a quest for cheaper and more interesting art supplies. More on that later.

When you come visit me in my new studio (and I know you will!), you'll have to search to see the shoe. It will be hanging behind a door or something.


Gerrie said...

You are so funny! I agree about how hard it is to realize you are that student. It happened to me in a class with Niki Bonnet. We were doing diary or story quilts and she is totally into the more is more - use the heavy duty glue- add paper- add whatever! But I learned so much from that class and Liz Berg was in the class and became my good friend and a source of inspiration.

Deb R said...

I loved reading about this experience!

kathy said...

Can't tell you how many classes I've taken where I'm THAT student...but you did just the right thing in plowing through...the funniest part is your realization; laughed right out loud picturing you snickering behind the stall door.! And the shoe is very gorgeous!

Diane Perin said...

This sounds like a good experience, over all-- and I think the shoe turned out fabulous! When you gaze at it hanging in your studio, eventually, you can remember how you pushed through something you weren't sure about and came up with something great!

Debra said...

I love this post!! May I please use it?? I think we all need to recognize that there are times when we are "that student". I like the finished shoe, but I think you might have had more fun keeping them as shoes. With the red and super high heels.. they were the quintessential FM shoes!!

Melly Testa said...

I think the shoe is WAY bette than you think it is! It may have been difficult and expansive but I know it will integrate somehow.

arlee said...

OMG i LOVE the idea!!! NOW i know what to do with the shoes i've dragged around for years that my now square feet won't fit into! Awesome!
Definitely a new lease on life for FM shoes :}

Julie Zaccone Stiller said...

This is a great story about sticking with learning something you aren't already good atand being open to the result! I say hooray for hanging in there. I love how the shoe turned out by the way. Hope you hang it up someplace so you can remember your True Grit.

Terry Grant said...

Deborah this is pretty funny! I think your shoe is actually quite divine and holds its own with the others in the photo.Can you imagine finding it packed away in your attic 40 years from now? Will your grandchildren think it is really cool, or roll their eyes in disbelief?

Unknown said...

Micheal DeMengs artwork is SO cool. What a fabulous workshop! It is so good when you reach that really uncomfortable place and push beyond what you thought you were capable of and create a wonderful new piece of art. I love the shoe. thanks for sharing.

Sarah Ann Smith said...

Hello...Ms. Troglodyte Smith here....

OK. First things first: you get major points for doing something so out of the (shoe) box. Second: clearly, I'm not into assemblage type art LOLOL! But I th ink maybe you'll be surprised in a year or two how some techniques that you thought weren't going to be useful at all manage to find their way back into your work.

I took a workshop with Jane Sassaman. The workshop was exactly as Jane described it. It was also significantly different from how I interpreted (when I signed up for th class) what she wrote. It was the workshop at which I decided I simply needed to stop taking workshops (my second "big name teacher) and simply DO the work.

As it turns out, I *have* used her techniques, in unexpected ways. The class was useful, but it took a while for her very different style to percolate through my system and come out in a way that works for me.... so let's see where this workshop takes you!

Cheers, Sarah the Cavewoman

Kim Carney said...

those shoe assemblages a delicious

Sonji Hunt said...

SUPERFANTASTIC!!!!! Now I can see why you still have unpacking to do. This was much better than unpacking!

momma helen said...

I think this piece is your "I'm a Texan now" piece. It TOTALLY looks like a mexican shrine. You might not have lived in texas long enough to see all sorts of these things, but they're often made from snipped up tin cans, sticks wrapped in yarn, with lots of little mirrors and baubbles and things.
With the title of the class, maybe that's what he was going for in the first place.
I think it rocks!

PaMdora said...

I love the shoe! Maybe you're unrating it, or maybe when you look at it later, you'll like it more.