Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Misspent Energy, Wasted Time

I think I'm finally on the other end of a huge lump of activity that had me pulling two all nighters and consumed several weekends whole. Why I volunteer for this kind of punishment is beyond me. Well, no it's not. I do it because I don't see it coming. No matter how many times I've gone through this process I still don't learn. By "this process" I mean taking on a project that requires materials and/or procedures that I've never done before and making all sorts of assumptions that lead to ludicrously low-balled time estimations.

First off, we have Norwescon, the biggest local Sci-fi/Fantasy convention. It's got an art show that I try to get into whenever I can. Get a little publicity, hand out class brochures, maybe get an award or two. Mostly though, I get a defined deadline. As an artist these are the only way anything gets done. I've still got over a dozen projects in the works. And so I put together a list of stuff I wanted to finish up for the show. And I got to work.

Then I was asked to do this little project for my church. My pastor wanted to make a point by pushing over a row of giant dominoes. We talked briefly about using cardboard or Styrofoam. I had to do a little research before I could commit to what material. It turned out I went with Styrofoam. I thought it would give the best look, and probably wouldn't take less time than cutting tons of cardboard. BUT they would definitely cost more. I got a budget of 'around a hundred dollars' and ended up spending almost twice that much. At first! After getting the material and putting one together I realized that each of the five dominoes would require about 5 or 6 cans of adhesive to keep all the pieces together. It turns out engineering the inside of a BOX made of Styrofoam is tricky business. Who would have guessed? Of course just making foam boxes would have been simple. Making them to be able to be pushed over and bash into each other is a whole 'nother ball of wax.


It also turns out that cutting Styrofoam, even with my fancy electric Styrofoam cutter takes a looooong time. I spent a 14 hour day on the first Saturday. Then the next weekend I did it again. Still did not have a single completed Domino! Several more weeknight visits… and finally a marathon Friday/Saturday all nighter, delirium inducing session and they were almost done.


After having completed them I would normally have a sense of accomplishment, some kind of vindication. But at 7 in the morning, having not slept for 24 hours I realized that I had just spent hundreds of dollars and hundreds of hours fastidiously forming mattress box springs.

So… That means I could have just hit a couple Goodwills and Value Villages and grabbed five Single sized mattress box springs for a fraction of the time and money. I could have painted spots and them and been done with it. What this reminds me is how vitally important it is to stop and reevaluate the direction you are going and why. If at any point I would have done this I could have saved myself and my family SO much stress.


http://lakesamm.org/SM_sermons.asp Check out 4/5 and skip to min. 40 to see them in action.


Now, simultaneously I was working on a cartoon mural for the children's Sunday school department for an upcoming event they were putting on to raise money for some good cause. I spent a Sunday morning in class attempting to capture a group of 5-10 year-old's ideas and put them into some sort of coherent order… in real time. That was stressful. The next Sunday, after one of my 14-hour sessions on the dominoes that lasted till 5 a.m. I started painting the thing… directing a dozen eager kids all wanting to slap paint all over the place. The next weekend I switched between outlining the mural and finishing the dominoes as they were both needed for the same weekend.

After that was done I immediately started burning the midnight oil in an attempt to get all my mostly-done sculptures done for Norwescon. I've been trying really, really hard to make an actual, recognizable portrait. I've tried and failed at this twice, but I thought if I really, really focused on it, I might finish this Jennifer Connelly I've been working on for the show. So I focused like a laser on this piece. I was posting my progress on several sculpting forums solicited feedback and help. Here's one of them: http://www.conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=154264

We went to visit Heather's folks and I spent the whole time working on it. But by the time I got back and the show was four days away I realized there was no way I could get the face perfect, then finish the hair and paint it. So I axed her from the show.

I did manage to squeeze out quite a few of my back-catalogue though. I got a fairy painted.


I got some of my Curious Keys done.




I finished this guy, called him The Cleric:

At seven in the morning on Friday, after having worked all night on it, I also finished this rock monster just into to pack up the kids for school and drive it down to the show.

He will eventually have little sculptures of my kids on his head, riding him.

I also got within a couple hours of finishing a sword, a couple other keys, and a few other miscellaneous things. It was so frustrating getting so close and then cutting them at the last minute. But of course the good thing is I can polish them off so much easier now.

Here was my final setup at Norwescon:

I ended up getting 2nd place for Best Body of Work, and the grand something-or-other award from the Guest of Honor, the acclaimed painter Todd Lockwood, who I guess thought I had the best art there.


Well, now that I'm over this period of stress, I feel much better. Had an actual relaxing Easter weekend with the family. Another positive thing is that I'm still in the Art Mood instead of the Game Mood that I had been in for most of the winter. So I think I'll be making some good headway towards moving my sculpting career foreword.

Oh, also, enough people have nagged me about it, so I'm on Twitter now too. http://twitter.com/JoshuaForeman



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