Assignment 2: Reflection on tutor feedback

Updated on 4 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

21 July 2016. Such wonderful feedback, with eerily to the point comments and suggestions for development. Many thanks!

Although I think I may have said so before at one point or another in the course of both Drawing and Painting 1 ;o), I am finally beginning to understand now where we need to go as students. My tutor put this in her feedback as having to place myself as a developing artist in context with 21st century art trends and working artists. I find this concept very hard to incorporate into my own small art world (although it is exactly what I would be expected to do in my natural science work!), because, and this comes with a very uncomfortable and familiar feeling of inadequacy, I do not see myself as an artist yet. I get the strange feeling that my work is not good enough to allow any sort of comparative analysis, since I am still struggling with the basic techniques, but I understand now that the task comprises something more expansive, nothing less than a perpetual analysis and sharpening of what I want to be in and to the world. I started doing this with my political cartoons several years ago, but necessarily from a much more distant viewpoint. Here on the other hand the goal is to connect with my soul and hence the instructions to take risks in a large way. My soul does not sit on the sofa with me and has never done for fear of getting hurt. It has been hiding for a lifetime and it makes me feel very vulnerable having to go and look for it. I envy the grace with which some artists solve this universal dilemma for themselves and this is where I will start following the advice given by my tutor to extend my research on contemporary art.

Regarding feedback to the individual exercises my tutor’s suggestions make me feel that I am not only allowed, but rather required to sort of step out of myself. In that context I remind myself to be more aware of and treat with care impulses and inspiration that emerge from internal communication. This sounds very exciting in theory, while in practice many of these are of a precarious, fleeting kind, crossing my mind in the most inconvenient, bland everyday situations, where it is impossible to internalize even an afterglow before it is overwritten. It is these situations of course where sketchbooks come into their own and I will try and follow more closely my tutor’s advice to note down every such impulse to save it from passing into oblivion.

I know that I will have to be a lot more rigorous with my referencing. Living in Austria with no access to English language library books and precious little time to visit galleries and exhibitions it is dangerously convenient to rely on internet sources, especially if cross-referencing is required. I have the set book Vitamin P and in a previous post I stated that not a lot of energy seems to flow from the book to me. Maybe it is time to sit down again and have another look at it.

Also, as I noticed myself, I have not yet quite made the transition from drawing to painting. I will have to start being much more liberal with my brushes and paint, and whatever materials and techniques come in handy. At the same time I am advised to look more closely at and emulate rather than illustrate what I see. I am not quite sure here yet what I am required to do, since the definitions make a muddle in my head, but at the moment I interpret this as having to take what there is, in reality, and experiment with that, rather than start painting with a fixed idea of what I want it to look like. I have emailed my tutor for advice and hope to get there eventually.

What I also have not realized in researching painting in all its facets is the requirement to immediately connect to works of art exploring or utilizing these effects, both historical and much more importantly contemporary as well as my own (and not only in painters, but practically any medium of interest). I do find, however, that these things start to come more naturally now, not in the desired intensity and conciseness yet, but they increasingly become part of the processes involved in each new exercise.

A very exciting note my tutor put in her comment was the idea of both making my work fit for the 21st century and travel into new and/or under-researched areas. This is something that has always had an extremely high appeal to me, and something I used to try and pursue in my job as a museum exhibition planner. This is also why I started the OCA course in the first place, because I felt that it is exactly this part of being an artist for which I am not fit yet technically and emotionally.

Although I have started using my sketchbooks in the required way and I am immensely enjoying the process – so much more spontaneous and somehow liberating than the writing of this log, I find that I barely have the time to do it, too. I may have to slow down the overall speed I am doing this course at. Which my tutor already considered when suggesting a submission date for Assignment 3 nearly a month later than my own set goal.
I have never before thought of actually painting in my sketchbooks, since I tend to need lots more space than A4 when working with paint, but I will take the advice and take my water brush filled with watercolours.

Something I have not noticed before is that my blog does not seem to be organised in a way that allows people to find their way round easily. Especially, there seems to be a muddle regarding the dates of my posts. On my computer, however, they are all presented in an archive sorted by months, one exercise after the other, since I make no changes to the sequence set by the study guide. I may have to look at the blog from another computer and see where the problem may arise.

I will intensify my research as suggested and present it in a more scientific way by supporting my results with published work. Also I will add, stepwise, to my relatively meagre collection of art books and magazines. Yesterday we went to my favourite art supply shop to stock up on canvasses and paint. Although there is a large selection of art books, most of them are very straightforward artist or technique based and not what I think I am supposed to be looking for. I will therefore use the links suggested by my tutor and start from there.

The suggested research will be covered, step by step, in separate posts to follow.