I received a very comprehensive tutor report relating to my assignment one work yesterday. I’m reticent to ‘blow my own trumpet’ with regards my work and am always extremely critical of it, so when I get a long report detailing so many positive points, it is kinda overwhelming and humbling. One thing I am taking from the tutor interaction at OCA is how positive and nurturing it is. When there is criticism it is carefully considered and very valuable. I have drastically edited the ‘meat’ of the report down to points that I want to keep in my mind going forward.
- Well-rounded, extensive body of work
- Clear evidence of very good technical skills
- Consistency in the work – I have allowed each piece to develop a sense of self, a personality.
- Capability and confidence in drawing and painting, composure in constructing an image from start to finish
- Initiative and ingenuity, interpreting exercises with real independence.
- Research is thorough, well-constructed and historically contextualized.
- Work shows I have a natural affinity with line and colour.
- Chose an interesting subject and produced a well-composed photograph to work from – ambitious source image and a great photo! (that’s another one of my passions – photography).
- Captured the aura and sensitivity of the image.
- There is a sense of being in the space and I captured the historical ‘emptiness’ in a way that hasn’t resulted in an empty painting.
- A tip is to address the whole painting and try not to focus too long on any one area. Instead, build up the painting in layers from extreme darks to the vibrant lights. Remember you are dealing with a really dark photograph, so it needs a lot of dark paint to get the point across. Also, try not to invent too much colour in the darkness, or too early in the process – colour is present in the photograph but more minimal than you think. (I’m thinking of doing another version of this assignment piece – a re-imagining not a re-working – in a monochrome treatment)
General comments on work in this part one
- Demonstrated commitment in getting to know the subject matter through repetition, allowing each painting to develop its own sense of self and identity.
- Tonal studies of the wine bottle and glass are very impressive, each possessing a lightness of touch and an individual characteristic. These studies show fluency and independence, operating autonomously with a sense of composure, fluidity of line and economy of tone and mark-making. This is evident throughout the majority of the exercises.
- Some great monochrome studies and tonal exercises. Confident application of transparent and opaque paint to create the impression of light and dark tonal shifts is very well done. Mature understanding of colour, which was evident across the submission.
- Impressed with progress and development in Project 1, Exercise 3 (Cheer up Chicken – 2 studies), which showed an excellent display of problem solving and awareness of what works and what is required. The final study on multimedia paper is a great example of this problem solving in action; it is a beautifully delicate and deft painting with a great use of economy of line. This final piece also employed an effective demonstration of the ‘less is more’ approach.
- Project 3, Exercise 2 also included some lovely sequenced images of a drawing in white paint on a dark ground. The initial drawing (on dark ground) is charming in its modesty, as well as understated and slightly naive in what is an often a ‘sought after’ way. These are legitimate qualities and things worth exploring and looking at. The ‘drawing elements’ within your painting are strong components of the work and something you can extend by ‘painting as you draw’, thus seeing them as more similar, rather than one happening before (or in preparation for) the other.
- Great natural awareness of spatial relationships of objects and planes within a painting, including perspective, depth and tone.
- More than capable when it comes to problem solving, which is an integral part of making a painting – i.e. the ability to be critical and make decisions based on what is in front of you.
- Ability to persevere and push through areas of uncertainty is evident in my decision making, especially in relation to the colour exercises. Although I struggled a little with some of the colour exercises, I developed a relatively good understanding of colour interaction and colour relationships and this is clearly evident in my practical coursework paintings as well as the first assignment. This shows great critical thinking and puts me in good stead for the coming months and future projects.
Stuff to work on
- Consider how practice and research could be better connected in my work
- Don’t include too many approaches in a single painting – reduce the terms of engagement and keep things relatively simple – eg working with paint and a limited palette (based on subject matter of course). It is possible to make a convincing painting with only a few colours and just one approach. (I think this comes down to naivety, trying to be impress – or be ‘all things at all times’ and will go away as I get more confident with my painting approach)
- Try to bring some of the carefree qualities of your exercises into your assignments and avoid anxiously ‘tightening up’.
- Let edges overlap and areas coexist, and bring elements together in a way that allows a more useful ‘tightening up’ to happen towards the end of the painting rather than throughout.
- Slowing down or even stopping is sometimes needed, i.e. taking time to look at what we have made at various stages can inform our practice greatly.
- A painting can often tell us something about itself in terms of what is needed or, perhaps, that it is already finished or requires no further work.
- Extend your willingness to let the painting develop at its own speed and on its own terms and you will find that the paintings will embody your existing and developing ability in a way you might not expect.
With regards the research component of the course going forward:
- Aim to look more closely at a smaller selection of artists. Focus on artists whose work strikes a chord with me on a personal level – delve a little deeper to find out about their intentions, ideas and outcomes. Really get to know the artist like a friend. Read texts written by painters themselves (examples were given at the end of the report)
- In the many investigations done during this part 1, I touched on some conceptual themes and ideas associated with the artists and was able to discern a personal response in relation to what has already been written about them. Use some of these good instincts to provide more of my own interpretations and personal responses to artists’ works, irrespective of potential contradictory written information – look at the work and the literature and be critical and questioning. (I think I battle with voicing my own opinions about certain works of art, as I still don’t feel as though I have the depth of knowledge required to do this correctly. That said, I do have very strong ideas about certain paintings, so maybe I should just not hold back next time!)
- Consider how research relates to my own work and how the ideas of others are intertwined with my practice.
- Think more conceptually about my own work – what my work is doing and saying in the wider context – then look at and read about others’ work through the eyes of my practice. Try not to think about the research being separate to my practice. Practice and research are very much conjoint and can influence one another continuously.
- In terms of thinking about my own work and the wider context at play, consider the qualities embodied in my work and the work of others. Explore colour and line to a greater extent, and think about content, mood, atmosphere and how paintings deal with these things. For example, what kinds of ideas does a particular artist’s work deal with? We know their ideas might be connected to stillness, contemplation, organisation and simplicity (as an example), but how does the artist manage to translate these messages through painting? Read what is written about the work. What do people say about it? What do you say about it? – who are the influences, etc.? You can use this model of research to explore all relevant artists.
Some interesting points were provided for me to consider for my next assignment – I will not deal with these here, or the list of reference material I was provided with (as well as some artists to look at) – I will incorporate this as I go through the course and mention it in my notes for Assignment two.
Overall, I am really pleased with the feedback I received from my tutor, it has given me a lot to think about and work from. I feel as though I am at last beginning to see that I have some important things to say in my work and I have the tools to do it – my confidence has been given a massive boost and I am eager to continue working through the exercises.