Over the last few months I have embarked on five projects which make up the foundation diploma exploratory stage. I reflected on the successes and limitations of these projects, as well as what I had learnt about other artists, techniques and about myself.

The Induction project of the exploratory stage was focused on mainly drawing, but helped me to learn to take risks when using different mediums and materials. Coming from A-Level, where I had been used to producing classic oil paintings, I had never stepped outside my comfort zone and as a result realised that I had a very narrow scope of experience. Researching artists such as Alberto Giacometti inspired me to test new materials and ways of working. Furthermore, I came to realise that I did not need to be precious about my work or its presentation, particularly when working in my sketchbook.

Workshops such as drawing what you were feeling without looking allowed me to explore expressive mark making, rather than something that simply looked ‘perfect’ on the page. An area that I found I was weaker in was observational drawing. Producing drawings of moving animals at Wimpole Farm was challenging, and not all the drawings were successful. Nonetheless, working this way was enjoyable and captured dimension and looser drawings. I feel that simply continuing to draw on site will help me to improve.

A main learning curve when undertaking the summer work project was learning how I could acquire independence when working. I feel that the activities suggested helped me to achieve this as they were broad enough to allow me to explore the elements that interested me. A project where this was particularly prominent was my exploration of ‘Imperfections in nature’, where an original idea developed into another (exploring imperfections of the human form) when inspired by literature and medical illustrations. This particular idea helped me to later develop my ‘conceal’ project where I looked at anatomy.

The ‘trace elements’ project had a focus on fine art and photography. After discussions with my peers, I came to know what was actually meant by fine art. I had always thought fine art referred to classic paintings of scenery or detailed portraits, however I found that it was actually any visual form of art, including performance. This knowledge allowed me to further push myself to try new things.

Looking at different ways of approaching a brief through techniques and interpretations of the phrase ‘trace elements’ itself further encouraged me to learn new skills such as cameraless photography. Also, I found that I was drawn to working with collage when discovering artists such as Kurt Schwitters. In my opinion, the format of a collage went hand-in-hand with my interest in conveying a meaning which encourages the viewer to piece it together. Something I found to be a personal limitation was that I was producing my final outcome that was perhaps too sentimental, which may mean my work will not connect with others. This is something I have to be aware of when undertaking projects in the future.

In terms of experimenting independently, I felt that the ‘connections’ project was where I was most successful in doing so. When producing surfaces and fashion illustrations, I found that I was attracted to stitching materials together, and I believed that this was appropriate when linking it to the project title as I was physically connecting materials in an unconventional way. This is something I would like to explore more further in future projects.

An element of the project that I found to be less successful was the final construction of the garment. I found my final design was not as I anticipated, and was poorly constructed. This was as a result of lack of planning, which on reflection I learnt to be an important part of the design process.

I most enjoyed exploring the ‘conceal’ project which focused on illustration and graphics. As with the ‘trace elements’ project, I was naturally drawn to experimenting with collage throughout. Within the skill, I was challenged to produce collage within a time limit. This unexpectedly produced very successful and loose collages, and I continued to develop them when creating a zine. This was a format which I found to be visually exciting, and I feel inspired to further develop collage through digital formats.

Finally, something I learnt about myself as an artist is that I tend to incorporate my interest in history into my work. I feel that this is not content that is often used within artwork, and I am interested to develop this idea using a number of new techniques in the near future.

Overall, having come to the end of the exploratory stage, I feel that I have grown as an artist and I have learnt more than expected. I am excited about the prospects of the next stage of the course, and I feel this stage has left me informed and independent enough to further develop and improve my artistry.

That’s it for now – stay tuned!

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