Part 3: Reflection

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

Starting each new part of this course makes me feel like an absolute beginner. Once again I have been pushed out of my comfort zone and through the process of experimentation and practice I have learnt a great deal and made new discoveries about my personal strengths and weaknesses.

I continue to find the encouragement to use different mediums exciting, and frustrating at times too. I achieved results that surprised me (after  trial and error) when working with pastels to draw trees and I know that I will happily return to this medium in future.

I found linear perspective very difficult to get to grips with and had to return to this several times before I understood where I was going wrong. I’ve avoided drawing buildings in the past for reasons I didn’t fully understand but do now! But having struggled through the exercises,  I feel I’ve gained the confidence to tackle townscapes and more complex interior views in future.

My observation skills are improving, I’m sure of it.  I am much more aware of what works and what doesn’t. I’ve learnt that decisions over what to leave out are as important as what to include I was overwhelmed by the great outdoors at the start but gradually began to understand that it is fine (and often essential) to leave out those things that don’t contribute to the visual message you wish to communicate.

I started this part of the module in January in the midst of the wettest winter in England for 200 years and it was a great frustration not to be able to spend more time outside. I resorted on several occasions to quick visits in between rain storms and gales and later drawing from photographs.

But I’ve learnt that while photographs are helpful they are no substitute for direct observation and, interestingly, that what makes a good photograph is not the same as what makes a good drawing. A photo is a moment in time captured. A painting or drawing is your own interpretation of a scene observed, perhaps many times, during which there may be changing light and shadow, and movement and growth. 

My understanding that as an artist you can return again and again to the same scene or object and find it totally altered at different times of the day and in different seasons has perhaps been the most important learning point for me. I’ve realised that if you truly have your eyes open, there are captivating views around all the time and that you don’t necessarily have to seek out dramatic scenery. By observing detail and patterns of light and shadow  it is possible to make much of what is on the doorstep.

I watched  El Sol del Membrillo, an intriguing film recommended by my tutor about Antonio López García’s ongoing  attempts to capture the sunlight filtering through the leaves of his quince tree. Having been challenged by the weather during this Drawing Outdoors course, I related to the elusive sun and torrential rain. I appreciated the insight into the artist’s perseverance and painstaking techniques, and felt the stress of passing time, the fruits decaying with the changing season, and welcome but time-consuming distractions from friends, family and colleagues. The film ends positively as all is not lost as the cycle of life renews and the quinces grow again the following spring.

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

It is still very early days but my work is improving all the time. I continue to find it difficult to bring all aspects of a picture together to produce a pleasing image using an appropriate medium competently, combined with a good composition with visual interest and atmosphere. It is not easy and nor will it be in future because while my skills are improving, I’ve become more critical of my own work, and more discerning.

However, I do feel that with each project I have been able to take the learning forward and apply it. I’ve found research into other artists’ work and visits inspirational and I am in no doubt about the value of preliminary exploration and experiment.

I’m better at some things than others, as I expect most of us are. My buildings are a bit wobbly, my landscape drawn from a photo appears a bit ‘painting by numbers’ when I look back. I felt more in my element with the organic lines of trees and clouds and I’m making better use of light and shadow. I was pleased with my drawings of statues but couldn’t help feeling that the creators of these objects are the real artists.

I know  I’ve produced a mixed portfolio of work and some pieces are more successful than others but I’ve enjoyed each of the projects and, I believe, understood their relevance and importance to my overall development.

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

For the assignment I was a bit stumped at the outset and concerned that I was going to produce a dull picture, not worthy of a second glance. While I’m not suggesting that it is a perfect piece of work, I am in no doubt that the process of research, and experimentation into different techniques enabled me to create a final picture that was a much stronger creative expression than my initial neat, pencil drawing.

I still feel that I am in the early stages of developing the techniques that will enable me to fully express my creativity but my confidence is growing and each of the projects has left me with lots of ideas and a desire to return to these themes in the future.



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