Field reflective journal..Posted: March 30, 2014
My field experience started a little differently to others, being new to Cardiff met and having to familiarise myself and settle in to the studio, the new people and course, straight away I was nervous about what was yet to come with field. This was a completely new idea to me, studying new topics which weren’t directly linked with illustration pushed me out of my normal comfort zone of water colour and portraiture. My hopes for field were that I would have new ideas for my practice, that I would become more creative in order for my illustrations to be more exciting and interesting to others, I hoped the background knowledge of other areas would support any further research I did into my practice. I knew there would be struggles and learning opportunities through the 11 weeks as I hadn’t previously studied the options I’d chosen.
When it came to choosing my field options I didn’t originally have access to more information on Blackboard of the options and a rough idea of what they would involve. It was with limited knowledge of the topics that I made my decisions; It suddenly became more of a leap of faith in choosing what I would be doing for the next 11 weeks of my second year. I tried to be as optimistic and open minded to what I could be in store for, the upcoming weeks I wanted to look at it as an exciting and unfamiliar experience to come, most things I do are carefully thought out and planned where as I now had the chance to study two different field options and all the unexpected things they would open my eyes to. I chose Drawing Philosophy for my first field option and then Gorilla in the roses for my second. Drawing philosophy I felt was an obvious choice straight away, been as I study illustration I thought it would make a great opportunity for me to explore drawing further and understanding its depths or limitations. I hoped there would be a lot of drawing in this option for me to build my portfolio and body of work to present. My second choice was Gorilla in the roses which was rather more of a risk, the option title was so random and from my point of view had nothing to do with art or illustration. Little did I know how it was about collage, montage and combining with pre-existing pieces. The option title was decided after the event of Helliwell and Orton defacing the book “Gorilla in the roses” on April 28th 1962. I hoped this option would break me out of previous habits and although I don’t use collage for my daily work, that I would take aspects of its meanings and methods to improve my illustrations and make them just as eye catching as a striking collage.
Drawing Philosophy was interesting and as I have previously posted in my blog, I enjoyed listening to people’s opinions and the debates over what defines drawing. I thought this option would then use those debates to build our illustrations and art to apply what we’d talked about, however there wasn’t a lot of drawing apart from the Drawing in Conversation element. I hadn’t thought about drawing in conversation before, the idea of having a conversation with someone without speaking confused me originally but as I continued through the weeks with the different activities and got paired up with different people I begun to see the conversations I’d had from the previous weeks and was able to tell what we were talking about. The aim of these tasks was to show the power of drawing, proving the phrase “a picture says a thousand words” really is how powerful images and drawing can be. Suddenly I was excited to see I had clearly made progress within my skills and ability to generate quick response ideas. Our conversations through drawing took place in a purpose bought concertina book, this gave a really nice finish to the work as though each turn of a page was more of reply and development on each topic. As previously mentioned in my blog I talked about our days at the Botanical Gardens and other park destinations around Cardiff, being given different tasks in order to encourage different techniques of drawing style as well as battling the typical welsh weather gave a new finish to my work than in my previous studies.
The philosophy side of the option seemed so far from what I had been studying in the studio and outside in daily life. I was interested in the philosophy as It gave me answers to questions I have thought about art; questions such as, what is drawing? What is the difference between art and drawing? These are things I thought I previously knew… I was wrong. When asked to define these answers suddenly my mind became blank, this is where our debates and group discussions really helped and gave us all different peoples perspectives and thoughts on each question on their chosen subject matter. With Drawing Philosophy I found it to be so fascinating how people try to break down and define drawing when I’ve always just accepted it to be a process of creating or recreating something by hand. Drawing applies to the majority of people’s daily lives whether it is in the form of a master piece or a doodle. I usually think things through in too much depth and over complicate them, making everything I do so time consuming. I think this is why I found the philosophy to be so interesting, however I know I need to remember when drawing in the future to not dwell on some of the questions asked and stop me from illustrating and producing the multitude of work that’s required of me in short spaces of time. This side of the option isn’t something that could be applied to the quick production of drawings I don’t think.
My strength with this project was that I enjoy drawing, been as I study illustration I was a lot happier with the drawing time compared to some others who usually study ceramics or are makers. When given the briefs of exploring local places in Cardiff and drawing still life objects and any people we encountered I enjoyed the process, illustration makes me happy to look back and see what I have created from a quick observational study and what it’s become. I struggled however on the philology side of the course and how to combine with the practical. I think the quick nature of Natasha’s classes of drawing in conversation and Cllve’s lectures of the philosophy didn’t link into each other, they slightly juxtaposed each other’s teachings I felt. This was 5 weeks that I don’t think I would ever have experienced without this project choice. I felt this option did lack however in the actual drawing practice, other than the drawing in conversation we were doing I felt it wasn’t work that informed my practice very much. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the concertina book I’d been using and the range of quick sketches we’d done during conversation, I didn’t feel I had created anything substantial to contribute to my portfolio.
My second field option of ‘Gorilla in the roses’ was the one I was so unsure about, after having little access to subject documents I had no idea what to expect. My excitement bubbled ready to start. Finding the field topic to be based around the book “Gorilla in the roses” Kenneth Helliwell and Jo Orton which was defaced, resulting in Helliwell and Orton being imprisoned for 6 months. This field option was to show how using something that already exists but changing it by adding, editing or taking something and making it that much more eye catching and in some cases shocking, away from the traditionally thought of art and different methods of creating a new piece of art. Not all creations are from a blank piece of paper and using pencil or paint.
Before this project i hadn’t really focused on collages, I always stuck with what I knew to be drawing and painting. This field choice has hopefully helped me to bring a little more creativity and imagination into my more traditional style drawing and future work. My struggles with Gorilla in the Roses have been creating the collages and turning them into a narrative, choosing images that link together somehow and tell a story or convey a message. I typically like things being neat and finished whereas collages never really have a finally completion point. My strengths have been making the collages look pretty and eye catching rather than linking thematically, I’ve tended to combine images using how they look and what would work best together as opposed to meaning similar things. This topic of collage, montage and combining with the contemporary style. Professor David Ferry talked about collage and montages ability to link things together and creates a narrative and how we can make an unconventional image convincing and realistic?
The 5 weeks of Gorilla in the roses developed as we progressed further into the possibilities of collage and montage. Initially focusing on creating a collage turned into creating a narrative collage using the “pro-create” app on IPads. I was surprised how well I took to the iPad task and the little struggle I had with it, we started the session by James Green briefing us with the task and showing how to use the app for those who weren’t familiar. I thought I would struggle with this task been as I don’t normally use technology for my illustrations and haven’t had much experience on them in previous years. I’m so surprised how well I took to it and didn’t struggle in using the app, finally I found a final collage that I was really happy with, I uploaded to my blog straight away to show my thoughts of the day. Although this option doesn’t really inform my practice and my usual illustrative style of art, I found there to still be areas I could apply into my practice in order to bring originality and creative difference. These weeks of field have been at times stressful and confusing, using skills and methods I’ve never used before I didn’t always feel I’d had enough guidance of them, how I could improve things until I’d finished the tasks. Now my weeks of field have come to an end and returning to my subject illustration, I hope to be able to apply skills from drawing philosophy of looking, not worrying and using trial and error with my ideas in order to come up with the best outcome.
Looking back at what I’ve done I can definitely say I’m surprised with myself. Drawing Philosophy has shown me there’s more to drawing than simply putting pencil/paintbrush or pen to paper and that for there to be an outcome there’s always an initial idea whether its formed and detailed or not. Gorilla in the Roses has changed my opinion on collage and montage. It can be as powerful and eye catching as that of a striking photo realistic painting. However, with any future work I complete I will include aspects of the new skills learnt but will continue to use painting and drawings as my primary form of image making rather than collage.
Throughout the field 11 week term I’ve found there to be a delay in getting feedback, support and notes to the subject briefs. Having unavoidably missed some of the sessions I have chased up the work missed but tutorials, notes and links haven’t been easy to access in order for me to produce the abundance of work that could have been completed. Field has been a major and continuous part of my second year, the additional research at home into topics and any experimental collage making has been my way of developing through the option weeks and then having feedback from the tutors only after the work had been completed. With second year being so chaotic and so many different areas of the year taking place at once I don’t think I’ve really had time to focus on one thing without at least 2 other subject areas having deadlines and tutorials overlapping. I found the different areas didn’t really all link in together and allow me to apply what I learnt in subject, field and constellation into each other’s projects. One of the main struggles I faced was being able to fully focus on each task given in each subject area without worrying how I would be able to apply the skills into my illustration practice, I hope to find more specific illustration studies in my final year. Throughout both options I have written on my blog the challenges and successes I have faced, this has made sure each entry shows exactly what I was feeling at that time, showing the progress I’ve made between the start of field and now.