Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Finding beauty in the simple things like floating trash bags in the sky is either Zen enlightenment or an early sign of Alzheimers

I've been sculpting multiple versions of those triangle shaped ships from the Transformers cartoon and working with this shape so much has me falling in love with it. I've been messing up a lot but every time I start a new one I find myself appreciating the simplicity of the basic concave triangle with one flattened edge I start out with. One time I just stopped working the clay any further once I had the basic shape because I thought it was pretty. I'm not smart about art but I do know that my favorite piece of sculpture ever is "Bird in Space" by that Romanian guy Constantin Brancusi. For "Bird in Space" Brancusi captured the very essence of flight itself in one sleek elegant shape. The raw tetrajet shape I'm working on strongly resembles Brancusi's bird, maybe if it died and splatted on the ground and broke its neck at a 90 degree angle to the rest of its body.

I know it's presumptuous of me to compare what I'm doing to one of the greatest artists of all time. My homemade clay spaceship based on a throwaway design from a toy robot cartoon isn't anywhere in the same league as real art. I'm not even sure it's art at all. I remember I had a friend once who told me that all the little things I sculpt in clay and make from plastic were not art. I held his opinion in some regard as he was studying to be a Zen master. He read the Zen books and went to the Zen websites and did other Zen master stuff you do if you want to be enlightened. He even sent me Zen e-cards. I never knew the meaning of humility until someone practicing to be a Zen master told me my clay robots sucked.

In a recent How To Be Happy strip, one fly tells the other fly that "Happiness stems from process and achievement". I could understand the achievement part, but I didn't quite understand why he included "process" too. Until now, the work required to get something done was always a drag to me. When I'm working these resin casting projects my mind is always thinking about how great it will be once I'm done. I love that sense of accomplishment upon finishing, but with this tetrajet sculpt I find myself enjoying each little part of the process right from the beginning. I'm appreciating every little bit of progress along the way and not being so focused on finishing that I overlook the fun that I'm having right now in whatever rudimentary step I'm on. Finally after 34 years I understand what "It's no more fun when the work's all done" means. I don't know if I feel dumber because it took me so long to achieve this understanding or because I achieved this understanding from reading webcomics about talking flies.

I feel like I've achieved a level of enlightenment comparable to Kevin Spacey's character in American Beauty. I always thought that movie was sort of dumb the way the characters were finding beauty in floating trash bags caught in the wind, but now that I've been staring at clay for hours on end I think I understand (what it must feel like to be high on marijuana all day). Occasionally I read obituaries of people and their survivors are always bragging how the dead guy "could see the beauty" in even the most mundane aspects of life, similar to the floating trash bags from that movie. Well now that I have beautyvision I guess yay I have something else in common with crazy old people that are close to death.


viscous said...

I think your tetrajets are really incredible. Can I have one? (Preferably Skywarp. Or maybe "generic blue.")

I'm not going to BotCon though a friend of mine is.

Benjamin Meyer said...

Only those people that create are artists no matter what they make. Your friend is an idiot.

Heavyarms said...

Why does one have a pointy nose and one have a flat nose?

How do you sand them down? Dremel? By hand?

And other questions...

Evil King Macrocranios said...

Mr. E I'll put one aside for you and get in touch with you after Botcon. I can send you a blank one in addition to the one I paint. They're not really all that incredible, which is why I only charge 5 bucks.

Yeah Benjamin, everytime I feel like I've really made a good friend that's in tune with me, they say or do something that makes me feel like a weirdo. I've since moved so I don't hang out with that guy anymore, but I'm disappointed that despite all the good times and laughs we had, the most vivid memory of our friendship is his voice saying "That's stuff you do isn't art".

Heavyarms, I made two because one is just for practice so I can get a feel for what I want to do. It's redundant but it helps me if I can have one sculpt where I'm free to make mistakes. The flat nosed one is the practice bird. Eventually the noses and wingtips will be made out of styrene and I'll cut the tip off the pointy nosed one, too. The flat nosed one is just a little bit farther on in the process.

I initially start off dremeling the rough clay with a grinding stone bit on the edges. Then I move on to 60 grit sandpaper for the rough shaping of the larger surface areas. Then it's all downhill from there with consecutively lighter grits of sandpaper. Right now it's all about the initial shaping and those scratches you see in the surface are 60 grit sandpaper.

I have to be careful because sculpey won't withstand hard sanding so I get as close as I can and then make a mold of it so I can cast an initial resin testshot and further refine the sculpt in resin. Sometimes I don't need to do that, though, and I'm thinking if I'm careful I can pretty much get all the sculpting done in sculpey. It depends also on how much time I have. I'm not saying this will be a rush job, but I'm not planning on doing an intermediate resin testshot.

naladahc said...

These are really fantastic. They look great.

Evil King Macrocranios said...

Thanks Nala. It's a little early in the process to get an idea of what they'll end up looking like so it's great that you like what you see at this point. Hopefully they'll start looking better and better the closer they get to completion.


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Evil King Macrocranios was voted king by the evil peoples of the Kingdom of Macrocrania. They listen to Iron Maiden all day and try to take pictures of ghosts with their webcams.