Posted in Coursework, Part 2, Research & Reflection

Reflection: Part 2 So far…

Tutor feedback progress

When I receive tutor feedback I tend to make a minor action plan on what best to do about it. In this case, the report pretty much had the main action plan in the summary:

  • Reflect on this feedback in your learning log.
  • Follow up on the suggestions I have made.
  • Make stronger connections between your work and that of others.
  • Be patient and focus on the potential for the media to make marks. Don’t try and make ‘finished’ works.
  • Make lots more preparatory work

Within this this I identified the following suggestions made:

  • Look at Matisse; including either make the shadows more natural or remove them altogether;
  • Consider line work by others, especially Morandi and Van Gogh;
  • Bolder mark making and looser/more free mark making seems to result in better work for me: tension between control and freedom;
    • Drawings look like they could benefit from some editing. Use an eraser as a way of making marks as well as a way of deleting errors.
    • Improve mark quality and tonal range in different media;  Return to experimental mark making as needed;
      • Line work: Better to use a dip pen and risk a mess.
    • Use a softer pencil for light initial marking, rather than a 6H;
  • The ‘book’ research is ahead of the accounts your own work. Take time to consider the following once you’ve completed a section: what works? what doesn’t? what would I do differently next time? what an I take forward into other work? are there any ‘happy accidents’ that I need to process (It’s worth reading my blogpost ‘In Praise of the Happy Accident’)
    • Make stronger connections between my work and that of others.
    • Extend my approach to sketchbooks. Stick stuff in from other artists and more experiments. Consider links between my work and others.
    • Interact as directly as possible with the work I encounter, document MY reaction to the work as much as possible. Think about the practicalities of the work, too.
    •  Its’ important to start connecting artists to produce a network of relations. It might help to develop a large, ongoing, mind-map to plot these.
    • Stick images into my sketchbook where that helps explain my visual thoughts and exposure;
  • Be patient and focus on the potential for the media to make marks. Don’t try and make ‘finished’ works.
  • Make lots more preparatory work
  • I have a tendency to overly ambitious work;

That was quite a list of things to start to address, and I’ve been more successful with some of the parts than others. I have started to extend my use of sketchbooks, which I think is beginning to head in the right direction. I’ve also picked up the amount of experimental and preparatory work I’m doing – but that has really lead me to a time challenge. I’ve shifted my deadline for this part from early April to early May and I’m still struggling to complete it in full and on time. To help deal with this I’ve shifted to doing work in parallel as and when I can get the right “quality” of time and focus for different sections of different pieces. (More of that later.) To be honest I feel I could still do many more preparatory pieces for each project and exercise.

Looking at other artists

I have been spending some effort looking at other artists, and trying to build links to my own work. In some cases this is part of my preparatory work for my drawings – such as the Monochrome research. In other cases I’m including the information as part of the narrative for the exercise. In the case of Cabbages, it was curiosity on how others had handled the subject of a sketch that sent me off looking. This might have tied in better if I hadn’t then switched to broccoli for the drawing.

I have also started the following links between artists, which shown on the blog as a set of pages under the title “Art and Artists Mindmap“. It is quite immature at the moment, but I’m beginning to find interesting links. The rivalry between Matisse and Picasso, for example, was definitely a new one on me. It seems it fuelled both artists’ work.

Trying for finished pieces

I think I’m still trying too much to produce a “finished” piece for each exercise. Possibly that is why they are all taking so much longer than I expect. I’ve started to try to work out why I have this attitude? Some of it comes as a reaction to the quite negative feedback I received from my first Foundation Drawing tutor. I think it also extends from a drive within myself, however, where I always want to produce outputs which are finished to a standard that makes me proud. I find it hard to accept work where I can see substantial imperfections. When I finish a carving often have to put it to one side for a while before I can see any real value in it.  The gap between what I have produced and what I wanted to is just too big.

This also meshes in with my tendency to try to produce work that is over ambitious for me. Some of my work in this part still shows that tendency, such as the Lichen drawing, I am trying to dial it back somewhat – such as the broccoli  but it is a hard habit to break.

Time allocation: quality and duration

For various reasons I can spend very different “qualities” of time on the course:

  • The best time slots are where I can spend quality blocks of time at home in a studio-like concentration for significant blocks of time – such as at a weekend. This might be at home or out if that is the need of the course. The issue being that I have a lot of competing priorities for this sort of time, and so there will never be enough of it.
  • Another good, if somewhat specialist, slot is where I manage to go to life drawing sessions. Despite this being a part 4 focus I managed to do quite a few sessions on this during this part. In terms of my current coursework this might be considered a waste, but it is providing me with a lot of focussed drawing time.
  • I am also managing to grab slots of time at home drawing which are smaller and so less valuable – but still better than nothing. This is slots of an hour or so in an evening after work. A few of these put together can complete a reasonable amount of drawing.
  • My last type of slot is the strangest – time spent commuting on the train. Given I spend quite a lot of time commuting this is quite a valuable time resource – but it is better for book work than drawing. I can do some small format sketchbook drawing, but only in  limited way. Some experimental work, sometimes drawing from photographs. I can’t exactly sit there with an A2 drawing, or a life drawing model. Even fairly basic drawing can feel out of place, so I tend to use it more for book work – including this reflection piece.

With some many thing competing for my time I struggle to get enough real quality time into my drawing – which is what I need to do to really progress well.

Part 2 work so far

My part 2 work so far is a bit of a mixed bag. I’m still struggling with the line work, despite trying out a fixed nib dip pen. This approach is better than the fineliner, but my work is still limited.  In Still life with line final image there are parts of it I like and parts (such as the back rock) that I’m really not happy with. If I get the time I might try a larger format conte line drawing repeat of this exercise, or back to the ink pen using one of the tape nibs and seeing what I can get out of it.

One major point of reflection is that I  a tendency to try for quite detailed and tight work – but that doesn’t really produce my best work. Despite its issues, I like Monotone experiment much more than the Still life with line or Still life in colour and tone final results. I’ve found a similar thing with my carving, when I try for very detailed work I tend to over work it and not like the final results.

The amount of experimentation that went into this part, however, was a definite success. Without this my understanding of what the pen could do, and choice of media would have been much more basic. Unfortunately, this goes hand in hand with my time management issue. I have just under 3 weeks to my new deadline, and time is definitely a factor again. I’ve started the indoor drawing project, but haven’t done any multimedia work or considered Assignment 2 as yet. I also have a number of competing priorities for my time, but don’t want to delay submission again. As usual, I’ll have to work on a priority basis.



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