Assignment 3 – Reflective commentary

2 March 2017

 

Measurement against assessment criteria

I used the assessment criteria as the benchmark against which to make my critique. I also referred to the course aims and outcomes on page 5 of the notes.

 

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

Most of the moulding and casting techniques were new to me, which is why I allowed extra time for this assignment. In particular, I went through a thorough process of researching each technique before I embarked on buying materials and making.

For project 1, I investigated seven different methods of moulding from a surface. I went well beyond the brief, both in terms of the number of techniques and the number of samples which I produced. As well as making simple moulds from a pattern, I also investigated a two-stage process, where I took a mould from a textured surface and then made a casting from the mould. This proved to be very fruitful.

For project 2, I confined myself to casting internal spaces with plaster of Paris, mostly because of workspace constraints. I found the material difficult to handle and despite several failures, my determination and perseverance paid off. Sample 6 – the cast of negative space between balloons, is a case in point; although my first attempt was disappointing, I believed strongly in the potential of the idea and persevered to make a second, successful cast. To achieve this, I had to think about what went wrong the first time, why it went wrong and how to problem solve and formulate a solution.

As well as techniques, the assessment criteria mentions observational skills, visual awareness, design and composition (course notes, page 11). Whilst recording sample outcomes in my blog, I have made reference to textural and tactile qualities, size and proportion and visual contrast. I have also used my sketchbook effectively for this assignment: After changing the approach in line with my tutors comments, it is now fully targeted towards the topic and I am using it as a tool for investigating and suggesting developments, as well as to record samples and gain a better understanding of their visual and compositional qualities. I have taken on board her suggestion to concentrate on aspects of each sample, rather than attempting to sketch the whole object. I have placed greater emphasis on using different media, and I have tried to be less representational in my analogies. For the first time, I have had the confidence to sketch directly into my book rather than gluing sketches into it. This has been liberating and empowering, allowing me to respond directly to ideas as they arise. Thinking about how I might improve my sketchbook, I should probably place even more emphasis on using it for sample development and perhaps reduce the number of sample photographs and replace them with observational sketches.

  

Outcome

I structured my sampling with a list of questions which helped me to assess their visual merits, potential and practical considerations. These included cost, easy of use, rigidity and durability, replication of the surface, and potential for subsequent working. The responses allowed me to make meaningful comparisons between different techniques and methodologies, and facilitated thinking about how samples could be used or developed. Making several samples using each technique broadened my understanding.

‘Outcome’, is also concerned with the application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, the conceptualisation of thoughts and the communication of ideas (course notes, page 11). In this respect, my revised approach to sketchbook keeping has been especially useful. Necessarily, textile practice is an iterative process of concept, test (sample), observe, evaluate, and revise. My sketchbook has helped me to look at my samples in the context of the work of other practitioners and suggest developments (apply knowledge). Through observational drawings, I have been able to focus on the features of my samples which are most important, helping me generating ideas and take them forward. I have also used my sketchbook to present ideas and variations (conceptualisation of thoughts and communication of ideas). Rebecca Fairley’s recent blog post (Fairley, 2017) confirmed this approach, which I feel is helping my sample development become more transparent. 

Deciding which direction to take a project is the stage which I find most difficult. Even with sketches and sampling, I often find it hard to make a selection, and sometimes feel that I have made the wrong choice. I am hoping that with the changes I have made to my sketchbook working, this process will become more straightforward.

 

Demonstration of creativity

This criterion looks for experimentation, invention and development of a personal voice (course notes, page 11).

I have certainly been experimental and playful in this assignment and in particular, I have tried to make use of everyday objects, such as moulding from a crushed can (project 1, sample 17) and making impressions in clay with a clothes peg and spoon handles to make press moulds (project 1, samples 59 and 60).

I feel that the ‘sorting’ stage is becoming easier as I understand my preferences for geometry, colour, texture and techniques. The course notes recognise that sorting is an important part of creativity (page 7), and I feel that it is very much a means through which my personal creative voice can be expressed. Negative space, and the concept of inside and outside are beginning to have a greater influence the direction of my work, especially in this assignment, where the lack of surface finish has meant less emphasis on colour.

 

Context

I have continued with the format of my previous two assignments; completing a detailed piece of research into several artists relevant to the assignment in a dedicated blog post, whilst also making reference to particular pieces of relevant work as they arise in my sketchbook, and whilst recording sample outcomes. My tutor has commented that this approach is good, so I shall continue unless improvements are suggested.

Regarding critical thinking, I have been focusing on which elements make a piece of artwork visually engaging. I have come up with the following list (applied individually or combined).

  • Contrast
  • Tension
  • Rhythm
  • Drama 
I have tried to explicitly consider these when critiquing my samples and thinking about how they can be improved or developed, and I hope that this checklist will guide me in future.
 
 

References:

Fairley, R. (2016) The question of development. At: https://weareoca.com/textiles/the-question-of-development/ (Accessed 2 March 2017)

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