Sunday, June 19, 2011

Salvage operations

I always find it difficult to let go of a piece of work that is not up to snuff. Sometimes there's an emotional reason and after a while I can put those pieces aside and keep them just for me. Others times perhaps it's the investment of time. I need to remember to look at the time as invested in learning, experimenting, trying, and that investment will pay off, perhaps not with this piece or the next one, but down the road.

More frequently, there are parts that are really, really good but the whole just doesn't hang together. In these cases there are two things I do. First, I attempt a salvage operation by trying to determine why it doesn't work and changing it. If that fails - and the work is on paper - I cut out the really, really good parts and save them for future collage projects. Often those collage projects don't succeed either. Maybe I should cut my losses earlier!

Today I want to share three of my attempted salvage operations, with some before and after photos.

First is a piece done in various Sakura pens with pink ink. There was a lot I liked about it, but I didn't like how the bottom corners seemed so pointy. Can't change that, but what if I made the top corners pointy too, made the whole image more square? I also added more shading, filled in some of the Knightsbridge squares, added Msst on the opposite side, and decided I liked it better turned 90 degrees. (Which means the title and signature are now up the right side. Gotta love that "no predetermined up or down.") :-)

"Pink Ink" before
"Pink Ink" after

I called this "A Box of Sunlight" because it looked rather light filled. It struck me that while I thought of it as a box, perhaps it didn't really look that much like a box. I needed to make it more box-like. Perhaps if I added a lid? I also made some of the corners more solid.

"A Box of Sunlight" before

"A Box of Sunlight" after

The last one is something I did in my early Zentangle, pre-CZT days, when I was still a little unclear on the concept and didn't do any shading. I sometimes use a wash of Payne's Gray acrylic as a beginning, which is what I did here. I called it "Alpha" because it looked like an "a". I just felt that it needed more.  I drew a border around it, added some pencil strings and went to play. At one point there were too many fine details developing so I added some wide bold stripes. Again, once I'd finished I preferred it turned 90 degrees.

"Alpha" before

"Alpha" no more

I would be very interested in your frank comments. Forget about the time investment. Did the salvage operation work? Are any of them worth saving? Or should I cut out the really, really, good parts and save them for future collage projects?


  1. I think they're all great and definite keepers. I also admire your persistence and could use some of that over here...the minute I start to not like something I chuck it straight in the bin. You've inspired me to fix not chuck next time.

  2. Really like the idea of salvaging one's work instead of just putting them at the bottom of the stack - hidden away. Will definitely be cutting out the favorite parts.

    As for the the 3 you posted here - definitely keep 1 and 3 - the salvage works really well. My personal preference would be for both of them to be rotated clockwise one more turn.

    On #1 making it more of a box really works. To my eye, in it's current orientation it has stacked looked but rotating it one more turn gives it more pleasing flow. This one would be my favorite.

    On #3 - Rotating it one more turn brings it back to the original orientation - again my eye likes it better. I like this one but would probably like it even more if there were a bit more light/dark contrast throughout the center. Then again that contrast might be more evident in person - hard to tell on a computer screen - still worth the effort to salvage.

    The middle one - not sure I can really say why but doesn't hold much appeal - I snagged it and rotated every which way even on point - not sure if it's the color or the composition or what.

  3. oops meant to add I liked the original of #2 - not my favorite but more appealing.

  4. I don't know, I think at least "Alpha" no more you should throw into this trash can right here. *looks like a trash can*. *grin* Seriously? I think they're all good. I actually liked your Box of Sunlight better before, but I do think the after is worth keeping too. And I think you're being too hard on yourself for Pink Ink. :D

  5. Proof that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I like them ALL for different reasons. Don't ever throw anything away, give it away! These took time and when you give someone even a small Zentangle it is a gift of your own time. Tell that closet perfectionist to relax!! People who don't do what you do every day will think these are marvelous. Guaranteed.

  6. I have sometimes used "unfavourite art" to build 3 dimensional pieces....hang from the ceiling, etc. When you work basically on paper, your home gallery is wanting 3D art, so why not create it yourself? Just a thought....... they are all very cool. M

  7. I like the pink & alpha 'after'. The box 'after' could be a bag design, looks like a fastening in the centre. But I think they are all great & if you want to throw them out, throw them in my direction!

  8. I like all of them and I do thinkyou improved them. My absolute-hands-down-favorite is the Box of Sunshine. It really speaks to me. I love your delicate use of color (I tend to use too much color when I add it).

    And once again, How big are these and what paper did you use?

  9. Thanks for your comments! It's always difficult to judge your own work, especially when it's very recent.

    Maria, I love the idea of making 3D objects! In fact I have a book with some items to construct that I picked up a couple of months ago. I think I'll cut out various ZT bits to the shapes required, and see what results.

    Revbyrd, Pink Ink and alpha no more (I need a new title!) are both 8 or 9 inches square. Box of Sunlight is 6". All are done on scrap mat board, white or off-white, smooth but not slick.


  10. Oh my goodness. I would be proud it I had done any of the "before" pieces.

    I think "Pink Ink" is definitely improved.

    I love "A Box of Sunlight." It is charming, cheerful, just the right touch of color, and the lid is perfect! I'm sure someone would love to have this piece.

    I like "alpha" both before and after. On the after, I would rotate it counterclockwise. To me, it then looks like a purse or basket.

    Your work is just lovely.

  11. These are really beautiful, befores AND afters!

    The Pink Ink is improved. Overall balance seems to be better, and it looks a little more cohesive than the before, but I do like both.

    LOVE Box of Sunlight!! Actually, to me it looks like a jar, but beautiful nonetheless.

    I like both of the Alphas. The striping on the 'after' one is striking and effective, although it begs for more contrast/light in the center portion. What I do like about the before is the clean lines of the middle parts!

    Lastly, you've inspired me to keep trying on projects where I would sooner give up. Thanks for that.;D

  12. I am amazed at the skill I see in all the tangles! I think maybe you should not cut it up yet but put it out of sight for a time-- 2 weeks; a month and maybe it will just come to you what to do with it. Kahna

  13. I LOVE your Alpha, both the before, because it is so different, and the after, because it is so intricate and there is so much to look at. I like both versions of the pink one also.

    I just noticed the date and saw that this is close to a year ago. Do you like them better now? If not, put them up on Etsy. I find it so much easier to sell my art that I don't like. Clearly, there are willing buyers out there. Your work is just lovely.

    As for your box of sunshine, I think it needs more contrast, and possible replacing the red with black. I played a bit with Photoshop and put it on my flickr. (Click the link on my name.) What do you think?

  14. I think they're all wonderful, too, and I'm looking forward to the time when I'm as good as you are in all three "before's"! No preferences in any of them, before and/or after, but I do tend to be drawn toward Alpha (no more)--I very much enjoy doing fine details.

  15. I am a freestyle stitcher/embroiderer, and I am always (make that ALWAYS) salvaging something, especially as I tend toward the abstract. I think of the process as the piece and I starting out slowly, and as the introductions are made, we become comfortable enough to chat with one another. The more chatting, the more informed the piece seems to become. I wait to sign the piece until I have to show it. An audience always kicks me into salvage mode!

    I love your work. I am a hopeless zentangler, but an ardent admirer of work imaginatively done.

  16. Margaret! Your work is inspiring to me. The "box of sunlight" left me speechless. I really looks like it caught the sunlight. The alpha before and after are fabulous too. Both have such flow, incredible detail and wonderful composition. I am a fan.

  17. I love them all. I think the important message is what one sees next time round - meaning that when you leave a drawing, you think it's finished, then you go back and see all sorts of things that could be added (or subtracted), improved etc. I'm now even more determined to revise some of the drawings I left off, thnking they were finished. I'm always fascinated by colour, but I think the most remarkable of the above set is what you did to "alpha". Brilliant and thanks for sharing!

  18. I forgot to suggest you call your alpha reconditioning "omega":-)