Reflections on Part 2 – Observation in nature

Demonstration of technical and visual skills – materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness and compositional skills.

Part 2 has been hard-going and I’ve become much more aware of my personal strengths and weaknesses. I feel I’ve experienced surprise at what I can do and disappointment about repeated mistakes in equal measure.  I’ve enjoyed exploring new techniques such as pastels and working with multimedia (ink and oil pastel for example) and my confidence to experiment and move out of my comfort zone is growing. I never imagined before this course that I would actually enjoy working with coloured pencils or that I could achieve depth of tone and detail with them. My first coloured pencil drawing  of three gourds surprised me with the depth of tone and three-dimensional quality (at least with the first two gourds).

I’ve had ups and downs and I’m aware that I have much to learn in terms of composition, backgrounds, mark making techniques and my ability to reproduce what I observe. I have a tendency to overwork pictures and be a bit heavy handed (see Using hatching to create tone) and I need to know when to stop.

These first two modules have taught me so much… I’ve gained more from them than years of going to informal art workshops where there was no structured learning or critique (self or otherwise).  I’ve taken my tutor’s feedback from Part 1 on board although I’ll admit that sometimes old habits, like wanting to put dark lines around everything, are hard to shake off!

Quality of outcome – content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas.

I’ve achieved a mixed quality of outcome which I don’t think is surprising  as I’ve had no formal art training before this course. When you experiment, some things are going to work and others won’t, but it is all learning. In terms of application of knowledge, I believe I’ve done reasonably well considering the early stage of my studies. Before attempting assignment two I made myself go back and look at all those ‘little box’ experiments with different techniques and this was helpful. I’ve also gained awareness of the value of the research projects and how it can be useful to return to them for inspiration on composition, backgrounds, technique etc.

I believe I’ve presented my work in a coherent manner. I’ve recently reorganised my learning blog to create a page for each part of the course which lists all the exercises and the relevant assignment. This is certainly helping me and I hope it will help my tutor too.

I do not really understand what is meant by discernment in this context? Judgment?  I think I’ve made some poor judgments about what to draw and framing on occasion, but hopefully I’ve recognised this and will make better judgments in future.

Conceptualisation of thoughts and  communication of ideas – reasonable, I think but I would appreciate some guidance if anything I’m producing is not presented to an appropriate academic standard as I do not have much previous experience to guide me in this respect.

Demonstration of creativity – imagination, experimentation, invention, development of personal voice.

I believe I am making progress in all these areas… it is early days and my focus is still very much on developing the technical ability, which I believe will help me to do a better job of expressing my creativity, and remaining open-minded. As mentioned above, I feel I’m already being bolder in terms of experimentation. Assignment two (using inks and oil pastel) was a leap into the unknown for me – hopefully not a leap too far!

I don’t really want to make judgments about personal voice at the moment as there is so much more exploring and experimentation to do that could take me off down any number of different paths. At the moment when I look at my work I find it is eclectic and perhaps that’s not a bad thing as I finish Part 2 of my first module.

Context – reflection, research, critical thinking, learning log.

I enjoy the process of reflection, acknowledging what has worked and what hasn’t, and while I know there will be things I haven’t picked up on, I believe I’ve done a fair job of critiquing my own work. I’ve found that I don’t always see the faults or solutions until some days later and it does help to step back, both for brief and longer intervals. I’ve kept my learning log up-to-date and referred back to it often. Widening my knowledge of artists through the research projects is invaluable. I’ve managed to fit in a couple of gallery visits (Australia and Facing the Modern: The Portrait in Vienna) and wrote these up in my log. I also enjoyed following my tutor’s lead to find out about Antonio López Garcia.

I still think that the exercises are taking me an inordinate amount of time, partly because I’ve often been unhappy with the outcome and gone back and done them again. I find myself having a mental battle about whether the right thing to do is to note the issues, move on and attempt to resolve them in later work – or whether it is better to stop and deal with them there and then. But with any luck as I progress, the experience, new skills and better understanding of the value of preparatory work will help me to get things right  first time around.

I am  looking forward to Part 3 and  about to dig out ear muffs, fingerless gloves and thermal underwear in preparation for drawing outdoors in the winter!

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