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Heroic Tales of Art Rescues...

Can potters, paper artists (ooo, my scissors slipped!) and colored pencil artists rescue their work from mediocrity or the trash bin?

I went to the font of all clay knowledge, Pam Parziale of Sycamore Potters (and the Studio Tour.) “Oh, what a great question, what to do with work we want to toss…but not quite” she says. “This is a chance for reinvention since you have already decided to discard the piece. In a medium like clay or glass, this may be the birth of mosaics from the broken and shattered shards of pots. One of the reasons that terracotta appeals to me is the chance to re-fire the pottery, which is almost impossible to do with stoneware. “

Pam is ruthless on herself. “Sometimes, my screw-up is so blatant, I just wash the glaze completely off and start over. LOL. After the pottery has already been glaze fired, I can add to the glaze and re-fire the piece. I do this only occasionally. It usually works. I have re-glazed salt-fired pots, and this involves adding some bright color to enhance the design.” The attached photo is a picture of a Sycamore Pottery salt-fired dish enlivened by Pam who added red birds on a wire.

"Years from now" Pam confesses, some archeologist will uncover lots of broken pots on the hillside behind the studio!” Makes me want to run right over to see what’s there.

Artist Tara Bell works in colored pencil, pastel and a bit of collage creating fantastical dream scenes. What does she do if a picture is just not speaking to her? “ I look for contrast, for light. It’s time to really go light somewhere, and really dark in another area using colored pencil, and yes, a battery run eraser. A piece can be over worked…put it away. If you get it out again, you may see something new. Don’t be afraid to take away, to remove. I think this is the only way to learn. Make some of these rescues your learning practice pieces.”

Paper Artist Liz Goins shares her advice. “When I have a piece I’m not excited about or I feel I have ruined the piece by not knowing when to stop because my art and I are in a serious conflict, I surrender and hang it up on the wall to look at it when I pass by. I have family observe it or even put it in a show and ask onlookers what they think… what they see. For me it is a constant internal conversation between me and the piece. I invite others to be part of the dialogue and that takes time. I’ve learned patience is key and something always evolves whether I like it or not.”

Whether you are a beginner or advanced artist know it is totally normal to have disappointments and failures in your work. What can you do to become a "first responder?"

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1 Comment

Anne Rule-Thompson
Anne Rule-Thompson
Sep 15, 2022

Some of my favorite works were pieces that I just hated and put on a shelf. I think that since we evolve as artists, sometimes we just haven't reached the place that works with what we have in our minds. It's comforting to know that, in my studio, there is always a second chance!

What about you artists out there?...

What do you do work that you are unhappy with?

  • Over the Mountain Studio Tour
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