Assignment 3: Self-Evaluation

23 September 2016. Here is my self-evaluation for Assignment 3.

1. Demonstration of technical and visual skills

Coming through this part of the course I think that I managed to gradually improve my acrylic painting technique in all respects, regarding setup, use of negative space, using transparent and opaque layering as well as the introduction of methods new to me, e.g. roller and spatula as well as painting on unusual supports (aluminium foil).
Throughout this part I used my sketchbooks to draw everyday situations and found increasingly that a first look, supplemented by a few correcting glimpses, would be sufficient to create believable human forms and likenesses. My goal here was to sharpen my observational skills so as to be able to stop having to take and make use of reference photos at all.

2. Quality of outcome

The paintings I produced in this part are of varying quality. It took me some time to adjust to my new high quality brand of acrylic paint. While adjusting I switched to smaller size supports, but have now returned to my usual formats, mostly A2 and similar.
I think that I am becoming increasingly aware of and sensitive to the processes occurring while creating a painting and am more aware of the preparatory steps necessary at the outset. If there is a finished painting in my mind, as in my assignment piece “Lady in Pool” I probably do less hard-copy preparatory work than I should, but there is so much developing and discarding going on in my mind that no sketchbook would be sufficient to truthfully replicate this process.

3. Demonstration of creativity

I think that for reason of worrying about our son’s health I was less creative materialwise than probably expected by my tutor, but I am immensely happy that I still hold out despite the massive time constraints we experience at the moment. We expect the situation to relax somewhat in the months to come, but I need to accept that I may not be able to achieve my full creative potential under the given circumstances.

4. Context reflection

The human figure and condition are my main interest also in my work as a caricaturist. So the choice of subjects was easy in this part of the course and I hope that I will have fulfilled the requirements set out in the study guide. In the wider context I did a very large amount of research on contemporary art both set by my tutor and on own initiative and find that I am increasingly able to relate to artists working in the 21st century.

Assignment 2: Self-evaluation

Updated on 4 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

26 June 2016. This time I did not forget to provide my tutor with large-size images of my blog photos on my Dropbox account and therefore, hopefully, she will be able to see better the details.
27 June 2016. I have just been informed that I will be assigned a new tutor, since my previous tutor has resigned from her job. I can only hope that my work so far meets with the expectations of my new tutor.

1. Demonstration of technical and visual skills

I think that I have made some progress in my approach to planning exercises and assignments. After a lot of guesswork from the start of Drawing 1 until about now I think that finally I have understood the principles of using a sketchbook for the work preceding a larger painting. Also, I can understand now why many fellow students will only reluctantly add a blog to their sketchbook logs. The latter are so much easier to keep, straightforward to use and will take any sort of awkward stuff and notes without producing any error messages. They are wonderful things to flick though and provide instantaneous reference. And since my handwriting is something only I can read a lot of the time I can put in all sorts of stupid ideas and side thoughts without having to feel embarrassed.

After a few disasters with using acrylic medium for dilution purposes I think that I am now using my acrylic paint with more confidence. I know now how important it is to keep paint not just moist but wet at all times and to take care to mix water and paint thoroughly before applying it to canvas. I am also, after an incredibly long time in the dark, getting more familiar with my brushes, so not all mark-making results are accidental any more.

At the same time I find that I become increasingly familiar with the requirements of a (more or less) successful setup. I find that my sketching and watercolour abilities are much better developed than my abilities in painting with acrylics, so my preliminary sketches appear much more interesting and probably better than my socalled finished work.

I am also becoming more familiar with the work of some artists, whose ideas and style have started to influence my own work. In this assignment, for example, I produced a background reminding me of Mark Rothko in order to exploit the mutual influence colours have so as to create the illusion of force or movement in an otherwise static setup.

2. Quality of outcome

I think that I prepared thoroughly for this task, having produced a large amount of research both on the meaning of colours and still life artists, as well as several preliminary studies during the exercises leading up to this assignment. Still I am not convinced that the quality of the outcome is what I would have liked to see. Problems occurring during the preparatory work showed me the importance of being absolutely clear about my intentions especially if my task extends beyond a purely representational painting. In planning the assignment piece I was quite convinced about the feasibility of my idea, but my grasp of colour relationships is not yet reliable enough to guide me safely through the development stage of a painting. In this assignment I think that my very small preparatory watercolour sketch has a higher quality than the finished piece. Despite all this I am happy to be able now to somehow communicate with a developing painting and overcome my fear of destroying something I may not be able to recreate in case the new idea was worse than the one from which it emerged.

3. Demonstration of creativity

As in most of my works I think it essential that they contain a message. The idea for painting poisonous cocktails occurred to me while describing another hair-raising point in the endless story about our son, us and the hospital. As a caricaturist I am used to playing with the meaning of words and one of my long-term goals is to be able one day to do a similar thing by painting alone. I think that my message coming with this assignment might be called creative, but not so the actual painting. I still have not arrived at a point where I think my acrylic painting skills are sufficiently developed to allow a more adventurous approach regarding the use of painting media and techniques. Still I was able to use insights taken from all exercises in Part 2 of the course to apply them in a useful and hopefully believable way (colour relationships, contrast, negative space etc.)

4. Context reflection

I have become increasingly aware of the immense value of researching the work of other artists in preparing my own. Since I am clearer now with my intentions it has become easier to take aboard the respective messages of the artists I have come across so far in the course of my studies. As with any field of knowledge I find that the more I know, the more readily and easily my mind will form bridges and associations, which will then increasingly allow me to find informed solutions for a given problem. Hopefully these will, one day, replace the guesswork I find myself struggling with at the moment, since only when my work stops being arbitrary it will start being truly creative.

Assignment 1: Self-evaluation

Updated on 19 February 2017 (Harvard referencing).

1 April 2016. Thank God I browsed the blog of another Painting 1 student to remind me that I might be required to go through self assessment with each assignment. Since in Drawing 1 a reminder came with each assignment, I wasn’t sure whether the same was true for Painting 1. So, just in case, here it is:

1. Demonstration of technical and visual skills

I tried to include in this work the experience gained both during Drawing 1 and the first part of Painting 1. The chosen view from slightly above was comparatively difficult, but I think that background, bouquet and shadows work together in a believable and interesting way. What I will need to work on is, as always, my weak point of not doing enough research concerning both the work of other artists and following a consistent approach to a painting using a series of sketchbook studies. My problem is that I always have a finished painting in my mind ready to be transferred to the canvas and I have yet to find a way to navigate around this aspect.

2. Quality of outcome

While I think that the general layout and the systematic realisation of my idea are not too bad, my use of materials and techniques has ample scope for improvement. In particular, my use of a layering technique using both opaque and transparent layers is still very inconsistent and I will need to do more research in this respect.

3. Demonstration of creativity

Other than with Drawing 1 I am not sure yet whether we are expected to push our limits in Painting 1. Since also the instructions for this assignment included the remark “Don’t be too ambitious at this stage” I decided, for once, not to run wild and stay with something manageable. I still think that, within limits, the idea of having a black flower-head with a bouquet of bright tulips, whose shadow on the other hand is the only one that is colourful, reflects my attitude towards life: Even if something looks quite bleak, it may come with an extraordinary characteristic helping to compensate for the more obvious “deficits”.
Since my grasp of acrylics is not yet well grounded I decided that I did not to want to experiment too much with materials and techniques yet. For the next assignment, however, I am planning to go ahead with a more inventive approach.

4. Context reflection

I think that my choice of materials and techniques support the message included with the painting. The bouquet is not simply a representation of a real world object, but hopefully allows a viewer to interact with the depicted situation in a more intense way, allowing the symbols used to deduce a generalized view of the world.