Drawing 1 has given me an enormous opportunity to evolve as an artist. I have finished the module in a very different place from where I began and I hope to have chosen pieces that demonstrate this as fully as possible.
Why have I included this selection for assessment?
The various pieces I have included highlight my successes during Drawing 1. It may be success in pursuing a process, in furthering my understanding of composition or in using unfamiliar materials – but each of the pieces are representative of a consolidation in my learning in some way.
Pieces 1 & 2
This work began from my on-site sketches in a French medieval village for part 3, project 3. I have included them because of the process I undertook – I felt my initial sketches lacked spontaneity so I challenged myself to engage with how I felt about the location once I was home – where I tried out various materials to see if I could convey something more abstract about my connection to the surroundings. The painterly mono prints demonstrate my desire to continue experimenting with materials, and my charcoal drawing reflects the impact that seeing the winner of the Jerwood Drawing Prize had on my concept of representing outside spaces.
This was probably my biggest achievement in terms of combining observational skills with creativity and experimentation. This piece just seemed to come together. I had never drawn ‘the outside’ before embarking on Drawing 1 – I was only ever interested in life drawing, so Section 3 of the course was a huge learning curve, but also provided me with a shift in my understanding of my drawing skills and ability.
I have included this piece as I see it as an achievement in my use of materials and my consideration of line. My tutor has (quite rightly) described my mark making generally as (over) ‘exuberant’ and my boundary lines as ‘stodgy’ – it is, therefore, the delicacy in this piece that is such a success. I also managed to capture the weight and presence of the figure whilst maintaining good observation of the body proportions.
Whilst the final assignment pieces for Part 4 were a real challenge to me, this piece was one of the highlights. I feel a natural inspiration when using a sheet covered in charcoal and using a rubber to create an image. This piece celebrates my enjoyment of this way of working and also demonstrates that I have evolved with my use of charcoal, as there is delicacy and energy to my mark making without heaviness or clutter. It also reflects the influence that seeing the Auerbach exhibition had on me, and particularly his works on paper in charcoal.
Pieces 6, 7 and 8
Assignment 5 felt like the culmination of all my learning. My challenges were to calm down, to edit out, to be meticulous with questioning my decisions and process, and trying to remain conscious to the work I was creating. The biggest learning I took away from Part 5 was my experience of myself engaged in a self-generated process. I also felt that I went some way in consolidating what I had learned in Drawing 1 in some of the pieces I produced.
Having looked at the work of Pippa Young at the London Art Fair I tried to understand her use of negative space and experimented with this in piece 6 – which shows evidence of my risk taking with editing out. Piece 7 continues my editing out and contemplation of negative space, but it also embraces a freer expression of my response to the piece of music that inspired it because of the painterly screen printed background. Piece 8 is an extension of piece 6. I have created a mono print surround using salt which has significance conceptually – this was the first time I had attempted to use materials to reflect a deeper meaning and something I intend to work on further. I wanted these three pieces to be viewed together as they are a continuation of an idea and an exploration of my process around that.
Like 5, this was a drawing in celebration of the subject matter – it was largely unplanned but followed on from a lot of process-driven work and I feel it captures the consolidation of my learning in Drawing 1. It demonstrates a deeper understanding of materials and, again, of the influence that the Auerbach exhibition had on my ideas and inspiration. I am beginning to understand ways to calm down my approach and this is a step towards that goal.
Supporting work on paper – 7, 8, 9, 10
I would have included these prints as part of my submission if they had been just slightly better! They are a real celebration of the connection I felt with the research I did into de Kooning’s work in Part 4, however, they are just a little too ‘unfinished’. They probably best express my response to the music that inspired my work in Part 5 which is why I wanted to highlight them here.
Review of Assessment based on the criteria for the Visual Arts
Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills
I have tried to incorporate a wide range of techniques and materials in my submission. Mixed media and charcoal work are ways of working that I naturally gravitate towards, however, I have continued to challenge myself outside of this sphere with my coursework. My overall submission includes pieces using pencil, charcoal, inktense pencils, ink, acrylic, pastel, screen prints, etching and mono prints. Over the duration of the course I have become more competent using materials that I am inexperienced with (for example my ink work for Assignment 3) (mounted piece 3, supporting piece 4) and have also learned to contemplate composition – a skill I lacked before beginning the course (for example mounted piece 4).
My observational skills still require practice, particularly with my translation of images from photographs. This is something I will continue to work on going forward and to challenge myself to explore new ways of seeing.
Quality of Outcome
Much of my work becomes a process that I try to engage with and follow as far as I can. Mounted pieces 1 and 2 (as well as the supporting work and sketchbook) show my engagement in this process and my determination not to rest at my initial drawings. Whilst the final pieces are still in the ideas stage I have experimented with lots of different ways of presenting my ideas and feel it demonstrates my commitment to my work. Assignment 5 shows this clearly – my work is process-driven, it is well researched and some of the end results are strong because of this.
Demonstration of Creativity
I like to challenge myself to experiment and explore any ideas and thoughts – I always try to consciously engage in the process and always question my decision making. Having said that I can also see that my questioning is not habitual yet – there are times when I am not working deeply enough and this is something I need to work on – that every choice I make becomes a response to a questioning and to the process.
My tutor has described me as being ‘capable of producing drawings with both subtlety and real energy and passion. The trick is to get really good at utilising those skills together and continuing to reflect on my feelings about them.’ Mounted works 3, 5 and 9 show these skills coming together, however, it is an area I need to work with going forward as I tend to overwork pieces if I am struggling with them and forget to give myself/the pieces space.
Editing out is also another challenge for me which is why mounted pieces 6, 7, 8 were a success – particularly piece 6 as this was my first time I really started to understand how much editing out I could experiment with and still maintain a strong drawing.
I researched as many artists as possible for the research exercises in Drawing 1 and also gained an enormous amount from looking at the work of artists my tutor suggested (Gego and Mehretu were both enormous influences on me in the earlier stages of the course, Auerbach and de Kooning latterly so). I looked at a variety of work by artists in books on the reading list and I also challenged myself to see as many exhibitions as possible during the 15 months it took me to complete Drawing 1 (24 exhibitions in total).
Over the duration of the course I have realised just what an enormous impact all this research has on my own practice. Assignment 5 was really, therefore, the consolidation of this – I found myself seeking out artists’ work that would help me with my own process and started to understand how crucial it was in anchoring my own ideas. I have tried to be wide ranging in the type of work I look at, however, I do feel I need to start viewing more work in smaller, perhaps edgier galleries (e.g. Transition Gallery) as I am very much excited by work created by emerging as well as established artists.
Part 5 also helped me to really understand the function of sketchbooks within my own practice and how it can help with my process of investigation. I started to challenge my belief that I can ‘only work big’ during this assignment and will be taking this further going forward.