Reflection on Assignment 1 (approx 500 words)
This is the first time I have fully enjoyed the whole process of working on an OCA assignment. I felt liberated up by the notion, reinforced several times during the course so far, that seemingly randomly selected, sometimes unpromising objects can become the source of successful drawings when approached with an open mind and experimentation.
This was further reinforced by a talk by Grayson Perry that I went to in Colchester in December in which he said he doesn’t always know what the outcome is going to be when he starts to draw. He might wake up in the morning and feel like doing something red, for example. He also said that sometimes he doesn’t attach a profound meaning to what he is working on… sometimes that might come later and sometimes it is provided by other people – in which case he grabs it!
I never thought for a moment that the two 1950s dolls were unpromising as subject matter. I bought them in a junk shop a while back because I knew they would be interesting to draw and all kinds of symbolism might be attached to them. Nonetheless, I could not have guessed at the outcomes that would result from simply drawing and experimenting without a preconceived idea of the end result.
And, big bonus, if you don’t know what the end result is going to be, you can’t beat yourself up about not achieving it. Instead you can be open to unexpected outcomes. Another Grayson Perry comment I noted was about how artists are often too judgmental about their work because of preconceived ideas and that coming back to work later he often thinks, heh that wasn’t so bad after all.
I found the research into Prunella Clough, Elizabeth Blackadder and Matisse eye-opening -and thought consciously about space as an integral part of my compositions (particularly in Untitled 1 where I deliberately left the background mostly empty so viewers could create their own context). I also found myself thinking about edges and how I might instill energy into the whole of the image.
I submitted three finished drawings for this assignment and a fairly wide range of experiments in the my sketchbook.
Making a decision about which drawings to develop was difficult but I aimed to show different approaches to seeing and drawing. I felt fulfilled by this assignment because it released a lot of ideas and potential for further work.
Despite recognising that they were essential to my development, I had become weary of the prescribed nature of the exercises at level one. I feel that this more experimental approach with the freedom to choose subject matter and how we use our time and energy suits me at this stage of my learning journey.
I would have liked to have worked my way through Part 1 more quickly as it is important to maintain momentum but I had several health and family issues to deal with which sapped my time and energy. The next six months is looking brighter. In any case, this course strengthens and revives me because learning and applying that learning to my personal practice is something that makes me happy.
Self-assessment against course criteria
Demonstration of technical and visual skills – materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills.
This course is encouraging me to experiment and try out different materials and techniques which I welcome. It is demonstrating that it is possible to see in different ways and that it is not necessary to be totally literal in my translation of what I see into my drawings. I have learnt some valuable new design and compositional skills and I can see a definite improvement in my work in this respect as I was weak on composition.
Quality of outcome – content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas.
I believe that by not having such a fixed view of the outcome I am aiming for, I am starting to be more experimental and delving deeper into my study of objects / subjects. I feel I have applied new knowledge in a discerning way and that I present work coherently. I have communicated my ideas but I confess that I have consciously tried to put most of my energy into seeing and drawing rather than words. The words sometimes come more easily to me than the practice.
Demonstration of creativity – imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice.
This course is unlocking all these things for me which is exciting. While I thought that my personal voice was beginning to develop, I sense I am changing direction both in terms of my artistic output and my working methods.
Context reflection – research, critical thinking (learning logs and, at second and third level, critical reviews and essays).
I enjoy the research and reflection in my learning log and feel that I am reasonably competent in these areas. Creative Arts Today was my last level one module and this is likely to have been good preparation for the critical review and essays. I have discovered that the forums are a great place for seeking support, particularly for the critical review, and have received advice from other students and pointers towards useful resources. I am aware that I need to develop more confidence in analysis and expression of my personal views. My critical thinking skills improve as my understanding of art history, movements and individual artists expands.