Category Archives: Notes

Reviewing my work for Part 2


The brief for this review says that many artists are concerned that everything has been done already and worry that making new work is therefore impossible.  But in his introduction to Painting: Documents of Contemporary Art, Terry Myers quotes Eugene Delacroix: “what moves men of genius, or rather, what inspires their work, is their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough”.  He goes on to list some of themany ground-breaking developments in art since then, as well as many deaths and re-births of painting in the face of other, newer forms of expression.

So I am convinced we can all find new ways to present our ideas, make our work unique and personal.  I’ve read other students’ Part 2 – UPM blogs and found their work to be very different from each other’s and from mine.  I’ve felt envious of their ideas, but realise my own work reflects my motivations and the context in which I am working…still, I wish I’d thought of painting on a hat!


The brief in the introduction to Part 2 of the course suggested some everyday objects to collect and I followed this in lieu of any other inspiration, never having been a great collector of stuff.  My collections, although they were of ordinary objects, took on a life and character of their own as I observed, drew and painted them during my work on the exercises.  So I became much more aware of the visual potential in the everyday, and I can see this has fed into the way I’ve depicted my collections and expressed my responses to them.  

Demonstration of technical and visual skills – Materials, techniques, observational skills,

The materials I used, such as ice (for painting and as a support), pomegranate juice, coffee and other kitchen stores, marble dust, pva, fabric, newspaper, metal, cardboard and fabric as well as more traditional media and supports (inks of various types, acrylics, gouache, watercolour, gesso, paper, canvas) gave me lots of scope for experimenting with new techniques during Part 2, informed by research into the materials and plenty of trial and error.  Unusual tools – turkey baster, grater, twigs have contributed to my experimentation.

I experimented with many new compositional ideas, such as the circular painting on fabric; painting on melting shards of ice; painting on a multi-part 3d surface (matchbox!); through to my abstract composition in a large scale line painting, and on to paintings composed on top of other paintings.

Quality of outcome – Content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a

coherent manner with discernment.

Some of the work was quickly made, like the paintings with ice and on ice.  Working so quickly intensified my concentration, and generated work that is mostly fresh and unpretentious, but which captured my ideas about the subject.  For example the lusciously colourful forms of cotton reels, and the gaiety and touching humanity of the display of socks – both painted quickly in bright, gooey watercolour ice lollies.  Such techniques work well to express a joy in the present, whereas other techniques might be better suited to more contemplative, introspective ideas.

Demonstration of creativity – Imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice.

Imaginary worlds emerged in some of my pieces for the exercises.  I depicted socks, cotton reels, scissors, with a life and character that I created by playing with colour, composition, form, line, perspective and making them seem to defy gravity.

I’m concerned I haven’t done any sketchbook work outside of the exercises, and that even that is sparse.  I should have used my sketchbook much more to develop my ideas and to play, then I’d be able to refer to and interact with the sketchbook when developing paintings.  Instead I worked out ideas in my head for days, or rushed straight into the work.  Will aim to remedy this for Part 3.  Even though the exercises are experimental, there’s plenty of scope for sketchbook work to contribute to composition ideas, familiarisation with subject, for example by making continuous line drawings of the subject.

Context – Reflection, research (learning logs).

My contextual research has been broader and deeper.  I’ve looked at the work of a range of artists working with unusual materials, those suggested by the course manual and others.   In response to my tutor’s suggestions I’ve looked at the work of Juliette Blightman, Craig Donald and Maria Theresa Keown for ideas on arrangement and display of work;  Elsheimer, Vermeer and Melita Denaro for an appreciation of small formats; Mona Hatoum and Paula Rego; Muybridge, Duchamp, Francis Bacon and Idris Khan on depicting movement in the human figure.  I’ve visited the Abstract Expressionists exhibition at the RA, London and as a result researched the work of Arshile Gorky in depth, and adopted some of his ideas and techniques in my own work, as well as linking these to some of the work of Joan Miro and Paul Klee.

I’ve looked at some contemporary artists paint on metal, especially growing in appreciation of Geraldine Swayne and Geniève Figgis; I wonder if I can make monoprints on copper in Part 3 – should be possible.

 My reading has become wider as I’ve started to explore (and write about) suggested texts by Walter Benjamin, Freud, Terry Myers Documents of Contemporary Art, Art and Today, Artsy Magazine.


Before I start the course…


Start 1200

I watched the OCA Student Website video guide and picked up a few hints, such as adding bookmarks etc.

Online forums – I browsed a few threads, and set up a few subscriptions.


Reading the intro to my new course prompted me to revisit the OCA guide to studying in HE.  I followed the course nearly 3 years ago at the beginning of my OCA studies, so it’ll be interesting to reflect on how my studying habits match with what I learned then, and to make some new resolutions at the beginning of this my third OCA course

My motivation for studying

my perception is that the UPM course exercises are open to interpretation and choice,  that experimentation is at the core of it compared to Drawing 1, Painting 1 and Printing 1, which are more structured and concentrate more on acquiring basic techniques. 

UPM will I believe lead me to experiment widely with materials and techniques

and  experimentation leading to finding new means of expression in paint

 Concerns about studying

I have lots of time, but I want to use it productively,  so I have to make sure I don’t allow myself to “wander”, which in the past, despite the hours available to me, has led to missed deadlines.  Learn to focus and leave side issues for leisure time!  I’m pretty sure I spend way over the recommended 20% of my time on my learning log and research.  I need to revise ways of ordering my thoughts and structuring written work before starting it.  Spend more time on organising and planning written work and then hopefully less on rewrites.

Specifically – concerned I may not finish the course by the level 1 4year deadline.

 How do I feel about my decision to study the arts? 

Great … One of the best things I ever did !  I’m learning new skills, learning self expression.  I’ve had my own exhibition, sold several paintings.  My learning continues, and I’ve great hopes for much improvement in my abilities over the next few years, particularly in my ability to express my feelings about what I see.  I want to continue to find ways to become a professional artist and maintain my own practise.

 A place to study

I’ve got a large studio.  Any interruptions are of my own making – must learn to defer looking at incoming messages etc instead of succumbing to the temptation to look, respond, and be led astray straight away.

URGENT – Need pin boards on walls

Extended sitting is a problem.  I’m more comfortable painting standing up.  Sitting at a computer it’s necessary to have a few minutes walkabout every 15 mins (this is where interruptions happen!).  Much reading and writing can be done horizontally using iPad.

 Time managing

I’m self motivated, organised and committed, used to solitary activities.  Quite good at planning ahead to meet deadlines. 

Most productive time of day – mornings.  

I do get anxious about deadlines, when I’m struggling to get started on a project, which happens quite often.  

I have to submit my final assignment no later than mid Oct 2017, 64 weeks from now, to complete level 1 within 4 years.  I’m starting the course on 1 Aug 2016 so I have 64 weeks.  However, need to allow for contingencies as don’t wish to break the 4 year rule.  I could easily work 10 hours for 40 weeks.  But I’m sure I spent way over 400 hours on D1 and POP1.

To get a better handle on it I could record study time, starting with this revision exercise.

Coping with Stress 

Exercise each day 

Regular and sufficient sleep

Do something for others each day

Learn to relax – meditation and breathing exercises – practise clearing mind of disturbing thought


Keep a time record! (For a while anyway)

Main time waster no 1 – Avoid wandering and going off at tangents when researching and writing.  Plan the work before starting, and stick to it

Main time waster no 2 – Avoid struggling to start on a project; don’t think the exercise to death before starting; start by doing something, anything (eg sketches, studies of a elated subject, or not related at all), and the project will start flowing.

Set aside a specific time of day for social media etc, eg evenings, when I’m less productive anyway.

Backup WordPress blog frequently 

Next steps

skim through the whole UPM course (paying attention to the learning aims) before starting.

Pin boards

Made a weekly study timetable – days of week against am, pm, evening  fill in other commitments – master copy here!Auff6KnIBTzsx2elVWlqw6hD6Wh

Made an activity plan for each new assignment  (read through the assignment – make notes, highlight important points, plan main activities, reading etc)- master copy here.!Auff6KnIBTzsx2l7cpGG3Y51P_-s

Make a To Do list –  See Managing Tasks under Managing Studies in the Intro course.

Set up two step verification on my OCA password – done