I have been thinking about this post for a while. By concentrating my efforts on my tutor’s Pointers for the Next Assignment from Assignment 2 feedback, I seemed to make good progress during Part 3.
Pointers for the next assignment (A2)
- Explore the broadest potential of the materials and processes you’re exploring – be experimental with structure, scale, shape and volume, as well as pattern, texture, colour and decorative elements.
- Push yourself to keep exploring imperfection and irregularity.
- Avoid considering outcomes/products, focus on generating a wide range of samples which exploit the creative potential of both process and materials.
- Emphasise experimentation over refinement
I am pleased that Cari acknowledged the range of approaches I used as I explored the potential of different moulding and casting materials. I tried really hard to break the habit of pre-planning outcomes, allowing the materials to determine what I did instead and Cari recognised this:
“The process of experimentation was thorough and logical but you’ve allowed yourself room to play.”
I did gain a much greater appreciation of the importance of being playful, which was an important lesson to learn. I find my previous hesitancy to ‘play’ quite ironic as in my day job I work in a Reception class (4-5year olds) where we are constantly extolling the virtues of learning through play! This brought to mind a quote by Kleon:
“A day job puts you in the path of other human beings. Learn from them, steal from them. I’ve tried to take jobs where I can learn things I can use in my work later- my library job taught me how to do research, my Web design job taught me how to build websites, and my copywriting job taught me how to sell things with words.”¹
In other words we work with what we know, I do actually know how to play- I do it to make a living, I just hadn’t made the connection to my art work before!
For me, Part 3 was about the shift in my perspective, I feel that I changed considerably as I forced myself to challenge my preconceived notions of perfection: ‘By being less precious about the need for things to be correct or perfect, you’ve generated a really enthusiastic body of work.’ Searching for ‘imperfection and irregularity’ and indeed ’emphasising experimentation over refinement’ were central to this. I need to continue to work with these values throughout Part 4 (and beyond). Even I can see the benefit this is having on my output.
I wrote a lot! I found the process of reflection really useful and Cari seems to agree: ‘it’s clear the questions have made you think differently about the work’ However she also noted the vast word count: ‘Your entries for part 3 alone total over 12,500 words. If each part was that long, the total for the module would be 60,000+ words.’ I feel the quantity I wrote reflects the period of introspection that ran alongside Part 3, but appreciate that I need to try to be more ‘succinct’ as she puts it.
Cari identified one the questions I asked of myself as interesting: “Am I capturing the texture of another material or am I creating a new one?” She says:
‘This interplay between what is real, what is a copy and what is completely ‘new’ is a really interesting question relating to innovation and the creative process. At what point do two materials combined lose their innate personalities to create something wholly new?’
I find this comment inspiring, I am keen to investigate it further as I progress through Part 4.
One of the things I identified as a potential stumbling block as I began Printmaking was my reluctance to layer. In the past I have often made the excuse “I can’t layer”, what I mean by this is: I can produce ‘something’ but then I don’t know what to do with it. I think this is related to my perfectionism and fear of spoiling what is already there. Cari advised:
‘If you don’t layer, you won’t know if it works or not, so you have to test it! In terms of ‘spoiling’ what you’ve done, that’s already an anxiety inducing moment! Depending on how much you like the original print, and how much time you have, you could always photograph and print out small images of the print onto which you can draw new layers to get a sense of how it might work. At least then you can feel fairly confident that the compositional arrangement will work.’
I like this safety measure, but I am really keen to build on the developments of Part 3, (seeking out imperfection, irregularity and experimentation) by now addressing this ‘precious’ attitude I seem to have acquired over the years.
All quotes from Tutor Report 15/08/17 by Cari Morton, except ¹ KLEON A. Steal like an artist (2012) WORKMAN PUBLISHING COMPANY. P124