After quite a difficult start due to having no relevant background, I felt my drawing began to emerge towards the end of this module. Now, some way into Practice of Painting, I am seeing things I could not see before. One of these is that I find my D1 assignments less satisfactory than many of the sketches; they seem constrained and tight while the sketches were beginning to loosen up and become more relaxed and fluid. This is why the pieces I have submitted comprise mostly the latter. A second realisation is that I had no idea how to process feedback, manage research, or integrate anything with learning outcomes. The first two mean different things in my previous world and this was a jolt I have only recently begun to understand; the third I had come across in casual courses but only as a statement of course intent, not a student measure. As a consequence, I rattled through a great deal of the work without much reference to learning outcomes or formative feedback, and tackled research with less curiosity than it merited.
This has been a halting, stuttering progression but towards the end I really began to see something new emerging. The move towards a preference for a larger scale than my previous A5 for instance, and a more exploratory approach to supports and sketch book use. I have glued different kinds and colours of paper into sketch books and then made myself use whatever the next page was for my drawing; and I stopped treating them as precious items to be kept clean and tidy when I found that real experimentation meant leaking ink blots, cross-page transfer (some of it more interesting than its source), and a bulging book with glued-in bits and bobs sticking out of it. Many of my sketches now are A3, A2, or even A1 because scale suits me and allows more gestural freedom which is benefiting me in my current module.
I struggled with many of the exercises, not seeing the point until much later, and while there had been a building change over Parts 3 and 4, it was Part 5 when I suddenly felt liberated from my sense of ignorance and inadequacy. It is probably significant that, having signed up originally for the BA in Fine Art then discovered that this was not really for me, I had been debating which of the Painting or Drawing pathways would be best for whatever skills I might be developing. That I chose acrylics to make the final submission was telling and I checked twice that this was acceptable – was I drawing with paint or was painting different? My tutor’s advice, which has been exemplary throughout, was to engage with the debate. That discussion is posted here.
It is impossible to overstate the amount I have learned throughout this module; much of it difficult to articulate because it has sunk into my unconscious and become part of my subliminal understanding. Increasingly though, I am finding it possible to recognise and even recall (these two processes carrying different cognitive loads) art works, artists, discussions and debates so that I have tangible substance to inform my own opinions and thoughts. This is grounding and confidence building and I can see how it underpins and pulls together my subsequent work. My tutor’s support has been invaluable; she seemed to know instinctively that I would respond better to a nudge than a shove and she took the risk that I would benefit from this while probably missing some key points, which I obviously did.
This module has been a kind of kindergarten and whatever my progress in terms of artistic skill, it has given me a framework for understanding and making sense of things in terms both of the subject matter and the administrative and structural requirements of the university. To compensate in part, I have shown post hoc my understanding of learning outcomes as demonstrated by particular pieces of work I have submitted and posted these here.
Progress in this module meant I picked up Practice of Painting feeling better grounded in the substance and vocabulary of art to inform my thinking and practice.