Assignment 1 – Criteria Review

Demonstration of visual skills: Materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills

Experimented with charcoal, inktense pencil, conte crayon, continuous pencil drawings, ink and acrylic to try and understand how I wanted to portray the portraits.  Having decided on medium I then tried the ink out on three different backgrounds (white acrylic, thin grey gouache and think black watercolour).  In the end I actually used HP watercolour paper without any base layer – this was because I wanted to take advantage of the impact of the areas of paper I was intending to leave untouched, and also to make the most of the impact of the shapes and tones I was putting down.  I also referred back to Marlene Dumas’s work and it appeared to me that she didn’t pre-wash the paper which was another reason I wanted to experiment in this way.

Having worked through my ideas I then produced 12,  15cm x 15cm ‘test’ pieces of work – I wanted to further my research into the nature of using diluted inks and try to understand how I might create different effects. This then enabled me to move the 20 pieces of work on again as I contemplated what I had done before and how I could improve on it further.

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

Can the viewer grasp the essence of what I am trying to communicate?  This is something I am unsure of – I have developed a personal connection to the women I have drawn so am finding it hard at the end of the project to reflect from a neutral place.  I wanted to represent the individuality of each of the women in the paintings and tried to use the inks in different ways to reflect my sense of each of them.  When considered individually I feel each painting is very different, however, by using ink there is a cohesion to the group that brings it together, linking each person (as the shared name also does).  I hope that the viewer would at least be struck by questions, e.g. who are these people, why are they together and have some feelings about particular individual images that stand out for them.  I would then hope their interest and understanding would be deepened once they had read what the series was about.

Demonstration of creativity: Imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice

Part 1 of this course had been hugely inspiring for me.  For the first time I have found myself using my sketchbook for myself, rather than as another ‘exercise’ to tick off.  I have connected with the importance of having a place to investigate my own ideas – and somehow this has consolidated alongside the coursework – I am now working on coursework inspired by my own interests, my own personal voice.  It is constantly inspiring me, which is then feeding back and helping my sketchbook work and my overall creativity (I am trying to get an art fanzine off the ground, inspired by my research into Cathy Lomax, with some other OCA students).

Assignment 1 is, therefore, a reflection of where I have reached with my personal voice – I acknowledge that figure drawing is something key to my output.  I am hugely inspired by Annie Kevans, Cathy Lomax, Luc Tuymans – I am starting to learn how to reduce the ‘noise’ of my mark making, to understand the power of space within my work. I am also challenged to observe closely as I am trying to paint faces. I want to move towards abstraction but it feels crucial now that I keep my observational studies at the forefront of my work until I have mastered this area further.

Context: Reflection, research, critical thinking (learning logs and essay)

I looked at most of the artists suggested in the research list at the beginning of part 1 and I feel this stimulated and inspired me greatly.  I have written a blog about Cathy Lomax and how her work has inspired me.  I also sat and drew 2 pieces by Luc Tuymans in the Tate – suddenly I am finding myself copying other artists work as a learning experience about myself, again, not just as an exercise that needs to be ticked off.  I am finding inspiration in everything.  Looking at the work of Cathy Lomax has inspired me to realise I am interested in representing my connection to media and popular culture in my work.  I also realise I want to be incredibly contemporary and edgy (if possible!) – to push my boundaries and try new things.  My work in assignment 1 is largely my response to Cathy Lomax, Annie Kevans and Marlene Dumas’s work. I have worked using thin ink, building up layers and tone and have tried to represent people with as few marks as I can manage.  I realise this is something that sounds minimal but it is a huge challenge for me and I have taken a step towards moving forwards with this.


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