Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Tutor Feedback on Assignment 2

Link To Feedback on Assignment 2

It's been almost four weeks since Hayley sent me the feedback but I've been at work and then been on holiday and had the endless round of summer visitors so haven't been at my desk to type it up. 

The main problem I need to address in Part Three is  my procrastination over the blogging. I lost some of the reflections that I made as I went along because I only made quick annotations in my sketchbooks - it was difficult to fully recall all my responses and plans when typing the blog retrospectively. 
Also, because I started work on Part two before my tutor had received part one (owing to completion of part 1 not coinciding with a trip to the UK). The blog runs in chronological order so there were several exercises from Part 2 before I put the feedback on Part 1 on the blog. This was confusing so I've rearranged it. Now the feedback for assignment 1 comes immediately after the assignment and reflection. I hope this helps. I've also tagged each entry and put a list at the top of all the tags (for example all the entries tagged 'research point' or tagged 'Part One: Mark Making and tone' can be accessed by clicking the relevant tag at the top of the page. I hope this makes the blog easier to navigate.

My blogging has been lagging behind my making of work from the very beginning of the course. As I mentioned previously, this is because I love the practical part. This means that when I get slowed down by an extensive research point I allow myself to speed ahead on the practical side but don't blog what I've been doing until I've finished the current research point.
This approach clearly isn't working. I also don't relish having a very large amount of typing to do after completing the assignment - it would be much less arduous if I divided it and did little and often. This is my plan:

  • Look at the completion date and my work and family commitments
  • Assign a completion date for each exercise and research point accordingly
  • Don't start next practical exercise before completing a research point that is due
  • However do draw every day - keep a separate sketchbook for non-project sketches and doodles
  • Use one sketchbook at a  time for projects so the work runs chronologically and is easy to follow
I am ashamed to say that during my holiday I haven't drawn at all. This is very bad because when I start with the drawing it has its own momentum and I want to carry on as there are always more ideas than there is time to draw. The loss of momentum now means that the original 'fear of the white paper' is starting to creep back in. This is the motive behind the two sketchbooks. It means that I am free to just doodle and draw whatever comes to mind or into vision (like a visual diary I suppose) without necessarily having to put something down that is relevant to my current study. Hopefully this will bring back some of the joy of the activity. 

Hayley has picked up on my problems with composition and also the fact that along the way I've experimented with trying  to produce some very simple gestural drawings which try to capture the essence of the subject without adding too much detail. I really admire artists who can do this - I think there is much more skill in capturing the essential elements of a subject with very little than there is in producing a very detailed drawing. It is however extremely difficult. I'm taking baby steps towards this but I will enjoy this challenge. 

Addressing composition, I've taken the chance to visit numerous exhibitions during my holiday. I've made notes on composition on some of the works. The gallery visits will be written up during the following few posts.

Now we come to this sentence " Wherever possible try to think about what drawing can be in terms of materiality". This is interesting as over the last two modules of the course I've been struggling a bit with what constitutes drawing and this has forced me to really think about it in more depth.

When I started the course I had no knowledge of the developments in contemporary drawing and its resurgence as a discipline in its own right. My aims were simplistic and a bit naive. I wanted to learn to draw really because I thought that was the starting point for work in other media. My ideas of what was drawing and what was 'other' were quite straightforward. I thought that drawing was pens, pencils, charcoal, pastels, ink and lines on paper as opposed to painting which involved covering the surface of paper, board or canvas with paint. When I started looking at drawing in the recommended texts such as 'Vitamin D' and 'Drawing Now: Eight Propositions'  as well as looking at the catalogue for the Jerwood drawing prize I started to realise that it wasn't that simple. In particular some of the works short-listed for the drawing prize were three dimensional objects and films.  

In the introduction to "Vitamin D : New Perspectives in Drawing " (Phaidon 2005), Emma Dexter writes a section called "All the World's a Drawing" . She gives the examples of two artists , Bruce Nauman and Gabriel Orozco who produce works in a variety of ways such as video , sculpture, print, photography but who both consider that all their work is a form of drawing. The reason for this she says is because the working process is investigative and because of the proximity of drawing to thought. Indeed drawing is the most immediate form art and as such has the most potential to record fleeting physical phenomena. Also the emotional state of the artist has an effect on the marks made. The other example that Dexter gives is that of Richard Long's land art such as 'A Line Made by Walking' (1967) where he drew a line across a meadow by walking back and forth to tread the grass down. So it is getting clear to me that drawing doesn't have to be confined to the page and that a large variety of media can be used.

Following on from this I found that Lisa Milroy, one of the Judges for the 2012 Jewood Drawing prize had written as her comment on the judging process essentially a large list of the subjects, types of drawing (for example analytical, process-based, map, pattern, films portraying the making of drawings), the types of frames or presentation, the size and form of the drawings (from 2x3 inches to 12 by 5 feet, some were objects, woodcuts, light boxes, projections, photographs, prints). Drawings had been made on various surfaces (paper, metal, wood, shoes, fabric, rocks). Media used included oil, acrylic, gouache, watercolour, spray paint , inks, felt tips , biro, graphite powder, oil stick, charcoal, dyes, pencil, drawing pen, papier mache' and a typewriter. Marks were made in numerous different ways (folding, gouging, scratching, dripping , ripping, collage perforating, stitching are just some examples) and the character of the lines was markedly varied. (bold, straight, smudgy, crooked, tentative, meandering, animated are some of the words used to describe them)

So after reading all this I am still unclear as to where the boundaries of drawing lie. It seems that the boundary between drawing and painting is a false one as so many media can be used to make a drawing. There are so many different ways to draw that it can seem a bit overwhelming for a beginner. 

I came across a Foreword to the book 'Writing on drawing' Essays on Drawing Practice and Research Edited by Steve Garner.  It was called Re: Positioning drawing by Anita Taylor she describes drawing as ' a tool of creative exploration that informs visual discovery and enables the envisagement and development of perceptions and ideas' She goes on to talks about the functions of drawing she says ' Drawing may have a transitory and temporal relationship with the world or it may provide a record of lasting permanence. It may be propositional;, preparatory, visionary, imaginative, associative, factual, generative, transformative or performative. Drawing as an investigative and generative tool for the realisation and transference of ideas is at its best when the means of making are harnessed to the realisation of ideas and concepts,when it is fit for purpose and inventive within its means.' she also comments that our education systems could do better to promote visual 'literacy' - the ability to interpret visual language rather than relying as they currently do on verbal and written forms mainly. She then goes on to say that with the upsurge in drawing over recent years it has become more commercial and may have lost focus on its primary function. One of the passages which resonated with me as someone trying to find out what drawing is was this one: ' From my perspective, having seen over 20,000 drawings go through the Jerwood Drawing Prize selection process with 36 different selectors since 1994, and having listened to and participated in concentrated debate over the nature of contemporary drawing practice , the danger might be that one is left with a clear impression that drawing can be anything. This has the constituent problem that is drawing is everything, then it is also nothing - or at least nothing special.' This resonated because as a 'lay person' poking a toe into the world of drawing the sheer volume and variety of works that are classified as drawing is bamboozling. It is also very exciting because it does mean that the self imposed limits I've been observing as to materials and formats no longer apply.

Looking back at the sentence "Try to think about what drawing can be in terms of materiality' I realised that I didn't actually know what 'materiality' means in terms of art. I had assumed that materiality referred to the materials - that is the physical 'stuff' of drawing but wasn't sure that this was the case. I found on the internet an essay entitled 'Materiality as the basis for the Aesthetic Experience In Contemporary Art' by Christina Mills who was studying for an MA in Art History Criticism at the University of Montana when she wrote this. There is s section entitled 'Materiality: What It Is, What It Isn't' which improved my understanding somewhat. I quote a couple of segments here ' Materiality in works of art extends beyond the simple fact of physical matter to broadly encompass all relevant information related to the work's physical existence; the work's production date and provenance, its history and condition, the artist's personal history as it pertains  to the origin of the work and the work's place in the canon of art history are all relevant to the aesthetic experience. The artwork's physicality, those aspects that can be sensed and verified by viewers, is a first consideration; physicality impacts content, and subsequently meaning.'

'Just as art forms a nexus between imagination and reality , the current notion about materiality in art is that materiality is how art's material qualities are sensed, interpreted and understood. An aesthetic experience ensues once art materials are transformed , via an individual's imagination, into thoughts and feelings that are, first , expressed by the artist, and , then, received by the viewer' 

This means that materiality extends to cover the concept, content or expressivity of a work of art not just the pure physical material from which it is made. Works other than physically present paintings and structures, for example performance art and video installations although classically considered 'immaterial' in terms of physical entity can also be talked about in terms of materiality.

I'm starting to feel a bit overwhelmed at this point and still don't feel that I've successfully grasped what drawing is and can be nor am I fully sure tat I've got to the bottom of what is meant by materiality. This is a bit discouraging but I am trying to stick with it by thinking back to how overwhelmed I felt when I first started studying towards my degree in Veterinary medicine - I floundered around with unfamiliar terms and styles of writing before becoming comfortable in that world so I'm hoping that with continued application and hard work, the relatively opaque language of art criticism might start to become clearer to me.

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