Constellation has been an extremely valuable part of my first year studying at degree level. Attending the Key Note lectures within the first term of undertaking the constellation module opened my eyes to new ways of thinking. They taught me to think beyond what I see and to question a theory, artist’s work or object further than my initial thoughts and assumptions. I had never even considered philosophy within art before Clive’s lecture: do I have ideas or do Ideas have me? I found myself questioning this lecture for hours afterwards as it really grabbed me, it encouraged me to think about what art really is today. Although I was engaged in the lecture room, If I’m honest, I’m still not really convinced that I understand the literal and the phenomenal through no fault of the tutor and may have to research that further. Learning about artistic periods through history such as the arts and crafts movement has broadened my historical knowledge and within constellation, I have quickly learnt that you have to have knowledge of the past to create new artwork today inspired by what you know.
Study skills sessions not only allowed me to choose an appropriate tutor to aid me in my essay writing, but allowed me to gain a wider knowledge. As an artistic individual, I was not really familiar with the world of sonic arts and so it was interesting to learn about music and sound being considered and utilised as an art form. Although I’m not particularly interested in this medium, I saw how effective sound can be and within my field module thought far more carefully about the music I decided to add to stop motion animations that were produced. Something I found particularly overwhelming before attending John Clarkson’s skills session was being faced with a piece of academic text that is incredibly wordy and far away from the main point. I feel in this session, I learnt how to find the key points and to summarise academic text into my own words in order to understand its content a lot easier. This is undoubtedly a valuable skill to gain as when reading books as support for my essay and analysing artists work and information I feel I have been able to understand texts a lot better and in return been able to write a far more successful essay than if I had not attended this session. I have referred to the thoughts of Clive Cazeaux’s study skills session when writing academically also. Cath Davies’s option taught me how to analyse an image in depth and look beyond what I am seeing and consider why objects have been put a certain way or why a person created a piece of art and what message is being conveyed. I think this impacted on me as an arts person the most, as I feel I analyse my own work and the work of others a lot more successfully than when I first started the course. Ranking this as the most valuable skill I learnt, I chose her subcultural option which incorporated image analysis to write an essay from and I am definitely glad I did.
Cath Davies Subcultural Sessions that I have been attending every week have changed the way I read imagery and made me think a lot more about what I’m painting, why I’m painting it, What materials I am using, the connotations behind them and messages that I want to convey to the viewers of my work. Also, I look at other artists work far more in depth and aim to decipher why elements of their work are the way they are. I understand how artists make appropriate decisions now and how even if something looks abstract and like it doesn’t really represent anything, it most definitely does. In terms of subculture, I have learnt an incredible amount about how you can reclaim objects and change their meaning to portray a new one. My field work has been far more successful than my subject work in my opinion and I feel this is partially down to this constellation option. I have really thought about portraying a concept and how the imagery I use would portray a certain meaning. I have thought about how certain colours have connotations and will aid me in emitting a certain mood from within my work. I can confidently say that I would not have looked at images in such depth before being asked to produce my constellation case study. I chose to write about a punk aesthetic and I definitely approach my practice differently after undertaking this. Being interested in fine art, learning about destruction being creation in punk artwork could definitely inspire future projects.
Constellation has helped me achieve a lot really. It has equipped me with such a variety of tools that I will take with me throughout my degree. My eyes have been opened to the work of so many artists that I wasn’t aware of and I have learnt to consider decisions that I make within my artwork more carefully. I now think about statements that I am aiming to make and how powerfully they are being conveyed within my work. However, there is still room for improvement and I feel that my knowledge of analysing images, understanding academic writing and having a knowledge of the original meanings of objects in order to change them will grow as I continue doing so and practice. I am sure that the concepts behind my art, its appearances and the thought processes I go through will improve as I progress through the course. Constellation has been an opportunity to progress as both an artist and an academic. We have been given the chance to take the skills we have and improve them and I have been shown new ways to understand and develop. I am confident that constellation has already made me a stronger contender for whatever I may wish to do in the future.
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On reflection, I feel that the work I have created surrounding the Hidden City Brief is highly successful. I have been extremely out of my comfort zone when working on this project in a vast variety of ways and I feel that I have really pushed and challenged myself. I have always considered figures and the human form to be a weakness of mine when it came to drawing or painting them. When I had the City Brief, it seemed like an obvious opportunity to experiment with the figure and work on a project incorporating people to improve my skill. I have never really worked with photo-manipulation in this way before either and I have certainly never used my photo-manipulations to inspire paintings that I would create. I have worked with a variety of new methods including under-painting and working with grounds, and I feel as if I have learnt a huge amount, developed my skills and grown as an artist.
I really thought about what I was going to base my project on and I feel that it really paid off. I feel that the Hidden Loneliness of City life is a highly interesting concept that is so relevant to today’s society. I started by experimenting with portraying loneliness through working with photography and manipulating techniques. I was highly inspired by the cutting out all of the figures from my photographs apart from one, to portray the feeling of being alone in the city even though you are surrounded by others. I thought about the fact that all the other people in the city may as well not exist or at least might as well just be white silhouettes and I started working with paint and illustrating these ideas on board. Attending the paint workshops on a Monday has been an incredibly valuable use of my time and allowed me to work with new techniques and painting methods. I think my painting skills and knowledge has definitely been heightened.
In my opinion, there are quite a few successful elements to this body of work. The amount of experimentation I have done and how much I have learnt and progressed because of this is undoubtedly a success. I think all my paintings are successful in their own right because they have all taught me something. I worked with a sepia colour scheme and experimented with the scale of the people and use of background, because of this I came to the conclusion that monochrome was more effective in highlighting a feeling of loneliness than sepia and so I started experimenting with monochrome painting. This informed one of my final pieces and I definitely feel that it is only a successful final outcome because of the prior experimentation.
One element I feel is particularly successful is my consolidation of the work I produced and how I have linked it in to the work that I produced as part of the collaboration group with other students. I think that including stop motion animation into my project portraying loneliness was the most fitting way to link in what I have learnt through collaborating with my peers. Stop motion animation has turned out to be the perfect way to showcase the photo-manipulations and tracing paper experiments that I have been producing throughout the project. I feel as if I have successfully created a body of work that has a deep concept and portrays the fact that you can be surrounded by others in the city but you may as well be alone as you rarely interact with anyone. I also feel I have accurately shown how you may as well be invisible to others in the city and that you are singled out which heightens people’s feelings of loneliness.
However, there have obviously been things that haven’t really worked within this project which I feel I have quickly moved on from. For example, I attempted to show loneliness through bright colours but it didn’t really work. The art looked far too cheerful and I quickly pushed this idea to the side. Also, I don’t feel that working with a palette knife was a success as it detracted from the concept and the figures in my opinion. Finally, even though the concept of headphone beings was interesting, Looking back, I don’t think that the outcome is particularly successful. I think it looks quite unprofessional and amateur.
In conclusion, overall I feel that this project has been a success. I have challenged myself, experimented widely, practicing drawing and painting figures and learnt many new skills and approaches to art. I feel I have managed to demonstrate the hidden loneliness of city life and visually portrayed the fact that in the city you can be surrounded by many others but still feel so alone. It has been an incredibly interesting subject to research and create art work in response to. I will definitely notice others more in the city and make the effort to smile and make conversation with people because I know how lonely they might feel even though there are many members of the public around them.
I have really enjoyed the collaboration process and could not have asked for a better group of people to create artwork with. I have been incredibly lucky in that I have made friends from collaborating as well as creating interesting artwork as a group. We immediately got on and started thinking about how we could amalgamate all of our strengths into a group project. We quickly noticed that the one thing that we had in common was drawing and set to work on researching artists that have produced collaborative drawings together. We met up numerous times to produce collaborative drawings in coffee shops and café’s as well as at university and I can confidently say that creating these drawings didn’t seem like an inconvenient effort to any of us and that we all thoroughly enjoyed spending the time creating art together. I think the secret to our success was that we kept the sessions very casual and never put too much pressure on anyone, we just took in the experienced and enjoyed each others company.
In terms of the work we created, we were all amazed by how well the drawings that we made were turning out and wanted to challenge ourselves further. We decided to incorporate mixed media into our work. We met up and each brought something to make marks with that we felt related to our discipline or sketchbook work. The pieces ended up being textural and sewn into and covered in tissue paper, drawn on top of, sketched into and painted on to create incredibly successful outcomes. We felt that all the drawings showed a little piece of each one of us and our individual projects as well as containing our journey as a group. I have learnt a lot about working with others and acquired further social skills from working with strangers. Looking back, I don’t think that anything was unsuccessful about collaborating with these people.
A few things didn’t quite go to plan like we had to rearrange meeting up sometimes and sometimes members of the group had other commitments but I quickly learnt that that’s life. The works we created have all been successful in their own right but in my opinion the most successful work is our final stop motion animation. It shows all of our drawings coming together to create one drawing, just like us individual students came together to form a collaborative art group. I had never experimented with clay before and animating it was a lot of fun. I have learnt a lot from the members of my group. Some of them used tracing paper to draw on in their sketchbooks which inspired me to incorporate its use into my photo-manipulations. It has ended up being a key component in the consolidation of my individual work and I don’t think it would have been without participating in this collaboration.
I would definitely not have produced a stop motion animation of my photo-manipulations if we hadn’t experimented with producing them as a collaborative because I’m not sure I would have been confident enough because of the sheer number of photographs that were included. I was shocked by how well our collaborative drawing animation turned out and it definitely inspired me to make one of my own as a final piece portraying the hidden loneliness of city life.
We all agreed that the journey we have undergone has been far more important to us than the outcomes that we have created.
I have learnt so much from the collaboration process and would definitely recommend it. I feel it has taught me how to be more of a professional art practitioner from having a professional relationship with others. We enjoyed our time together but we knew we had work that we needed to get done so I feel we all learnt how to formulate a healthy balance of work and play. I am delighted to say that we all agreed that we would stay friends and that if we ever needed any artistic advice then we would all be happy to help each other out as it is always useful to obtain the opinion of students specializing in another discipline. We all went for a drink after our final presentation and reflected on what a positive experience collaboratively making art has been for each of us. I have learnt that collaboration is very give and take. You have to work together, take in the input of others and give your opinion in order to be successful.
Looking back at my subject work, I have really worked out of my comfort zone and steered away from the work I would typically create. When thinking about time as a brief, I instantly thought about things changing over time. After coming across Sam Taylor Wood’s “Still life” piece, I embarked on working on artistically portraying an investigation into food decay. I have used physical mould and decay as a medium to produce art and I have also tried to replicate the look of mould using mixed media techniques. I have enjoyed using materials that are not typically for use within art, like sugar and cotton wool and it has opened my eyes to the fact that it is how you use an d manipulate the material you are working with that creates successful art work, not the material itself.
I think the bread filled perspex box that I have produced is particularly successful because it gives me and the viewer an insight into how things decay. We would not usually leave bread to decay for that long in our households and so it allows others to see the colours that moulds produce and the hidden beauty of the natural things that we take for granted or find repulsive. I also feel that my photographs and video of my decaying art piece are particularly successful as they accurately capture change and decay over time. Also, visually beautiful photographs have been captured even though they are portraying something repulsive. I do wish that I could have left the piece to decay for longer but I simply did not have the facilities to do so safely. My experimentation with photo montage produced interesting outcomes and highly unusual subject matter to paint from. Working with Petri Dishes was a success in my eyes as they gave clarity and added a sense of realism to the fake mould that I had painted within them. It also encourages people to question what they think they see. I have never really worked with 3D or sculpture before and I think that my sculptural final piece for this project is a success. It is visually appealing and there is a strange juxtaposition going on between the perfectly formed fruit and the fake decay mouldy looking exterior.
Looking back, I do not feel that the coloured mould experiments I produced were particularly successful. I feel that they don’t really fit in with the rest of the work made within this project and that they almost look to appealing to the eye and no longer look mouldy or as if they are portraying decay. Filling perspex boxes with vegetables and fruits and photographing them was also unsuccessful as when the foods decayed they leaked liquids that the boxes simply couldn’t contain. They also attracted bugs and fruit flies and I had to get rid of them in fear of my health and the welfare of other students that were working near my desk.
In conclusion, I feel I have managed to create a substantial investigation into food decay inspired by a variety of artists and full of experimentation with materials and techniques. I think I have managed to capture a frozen moment in the decay process using artist materials a well as portraying how decay develops over time through 3D work and photography. I have analysed whether this body of work can be considered art and decided that setting is incredibly important in this. I have successfully created two final pieces that definitely demonstrate an investigation into food decay and worked with a subject that I feel has shown me and others that there are fascinating things out there that on a daily basis we take for granted.
I have started working with brighter colours and attempted to portray the hidden loneliness of the city within the vibrancy. At the start of my project, when I was investigating artists that were inspired by the city itself, I came across the work of Elena Romanova, who combines wax resist techniques with inks.
Above: Elena Romanova’s work
I decided to employ her influence and produce some brightly coloured wax resists using crayons and vibrant drawing inks. I have worked with city skylines and a lone figure to start with and then moved on to thinking about a lonesome figure among others surrounded by silhouettes just like I have in my darker works and photo manipulations so that I can analyse which colour palette is more effective in portraying my city theme.
REFLECTION: I think the white crayon is more successful than the coloured crayons in terms of wax resist, but I do not think that these are successful images at all. I don’t think they portray the hidden loneliness of city life, and the figures within them simply don’t look lonely surrounded by vibrant colours. I am already seeing that the colour palette of my work affects the success of the message and how lonely the people are massively. I was going to experiment further with brighter colours, but I do not see the point anymore. The use of bright colours to show the loneliness of city life is unsuccessful even when one figure is surrounded by others that may as well not exist and the imagery is showing that you are alone even around others in the city. I have experimented with this idea and found it not beneficial to my project and so I will continue working with a duller and darker colour palette.
Now that I have clarified this, I will work on a darker piece inspired by the artist I saw in the Urban spree gallery and user Shoe18’s piece on deviant art incorporating my successes within this hidden loneliness in cities exploration so far. I will portray the idea that you feel lonely even when surrounded by others and to them you may as well not exist because I feel it is the most successful portrayal I have explored. I will also include cut out silhouettes inspired by my photo manipulations and have one person singled out in colour influenced by the girl in the red coat in the movie Schindler’s List. I will employ techniques such as dry brushing inspired by my paint workshop and work on a dark ground as I felt this was highly successful when I was influenced to work with one by the grounds workshop I attended. I am hoping this will make for a highly successful outcome and am keen to start working on it.
We met up as a group today and discussed our original timetable and how to progress over the next few weeks. The original plan was to work with creating a new animation using what we’ve learnt and make a large collaborative drawing, but we got all of the work we have produced together, and didn’t realise quite how much work we have already made. We were delighted to learn that we had been enjoying this collaboration so much that we hadn’t really stepped back and looked and reflected on what we had done. Today, we decided that we will put the two animations we have already made into one video as a final animation and instead of making a large drawing, we will display 3 of the best A1 pieces we have created.
We worked on our collaborative book today and brought it up to date with documentation.
After that we wrote some written reflection and formulated an action plan up to the assessment point on the 18th March. This included mashing together our animations, reflecting, finishing documenting and creating our book and then finally, working on our final presentation to be presented to all the other collaborative groups.
Finally, we decided it would be beneficial to consolidate and conclude our book by writing about how this collaboration has influenced our own individual practice.
We each wrote a small paragraph about what we had learnt and will take away from this experience and we were delighted that every one of us had written about a positive experience whilst working in a collaborative group. We have worked really hard and want to enjoy celebrating what we have made and portraying that in a presentation rather than stressing out about making new things. Our work has a lot of potential and direction and that is enough for us. We are proud of ourselves and each other for what we have managed to achieve in such a short space of time working around other commitments.
On reflection, painting on a variety of grounds has definitely aided my learning and expanded my knowledge as an artist. Below I have highlighted the successes and failures of working with six different grounds. I have also noted my thoughts and potential uses for the grounds that haven’t been successful for this project work.
Burnt Umber – Dark Brown
Dark Brown is definitely the one of the most successful grounds for this kind of painting. It was incredibly effortless to create shadows because I didn’t have to paint the dark areas, I just used the ground to guide me. It was easier to paint and focusing on the highlights allowed me to create a far more successful image than if I was simply working on white.
Mid Tone Ground
A mid-tone ground worked quite well, but it didn’t allow for a dark feeling painting. It is quite unsuccessful really and does not heighten the feeling of loneliness as much as a darker tone ground. Also, I found myself using the ground to guide the highlights in the image which I feel made the image look quite flat and I don’t feel there is enough contrast between the figures and the surrounding here. I am incredibly surprised by how much a ground beneath a painting actually affects the outcome in the end.
Red Textured Ground
This textured ground made it very difficult to paint the straight edges of the buildings and figures within the outcome. However, I feel quite an interesting effect has been created here. To me the red ground made the scene look almost apocalyptic which isn’t exactly the feeling I was trying to create, so in that respect it is unsuccessful, but using a textured ground was a valuable insight into effects that can be created with grounds and demonstrated to me what my tutor meant by making more work for yourself when painting on an uneven ground.
Cadmium Yellow Ground
The cadmium yellow ground did weird and wonderful things to my painting. I like the effect it created and the yellow highlights peaking through as if the sun is shining, but it does produce a positive feeling so is unsuccessful in aiding the portrayal of loneliness in the city. In the future, if I am thinking about light or painting sun light, I will consider using a cadmium yellow ground.
Dark Brown Textured Ground
Textured grounds could definitely be interesting to explore and would undoubtedly benefit an abstract piece of work, but in this painting, even though I like the effect created, it was difficult to paint any straight edges because of all the lumps and bumps. I kind of feel that the attention is detracted from the subject a little bit by the interesting textures and palette knife work highlighting the surface.
Black Emulsion Ground
The black emulsion ground is also incredibly successful. It is between this ground and the dark brown as to which one has worked best. Again, It was effortless to create shadows because I didn’t have to paint the dark areas, I just used the ground to guide me. I would say this is so successful because the highlights and white figures really stand out and the darkest areas are black so there is a lot of contrast within the work.
On reflection, painting on a variety of grounds has undoubtedly been a valuable exercise. I have learnt first hand, how the colour or texture of a ground can affect that final outcome. I have also learnt the importance of choosing the correct ground to work with and how some grounds can make the painting you are producing easier to paint or vice versa. It is important to consider how the ground that you choose could affect the mood of the piece as here some of the grounds have helped heighten a dark mood and loneliness and others haven’t. The textures grounds definitely made it more difficult to paint figuratively but could be incredibly useful and valid for abstract works. Now that I have experimented with grounds, I will produce a large piece on a dark ground to add to its success and highlight my findings from these explorations.