This time last year I had submitted my practice of painting assessment and had been feeling very downhearted as I had thought that I might not pass the module. I had struggled through the module with some illness, and had been disappointed with the variable successes and failures that I’d achieved. I’d learnt that success requires sustained practice and I’d really struggled to sustain my painting. I did pass the module however, with a reasonable mark, and was really pleased. The experience had severely dented my confidence however.
I began the Visual culture module determined to make a new start. I have really enjoyed the module, and although I started off a little worried about the sheer density and complexity of the prescribed texts, I soon began to really enjoy them. I had never studied these sort of social-science texts before and they made a very pleasant change from science, my usual subject.
It took me quite a few months to get to grips with digesting the texts and completing the note-taking and BLOG discussions, but I submitted my first assignment eventually and found that it was relatively well received by my tutor. This really gave me an injection of confidence, and I completed the next assignments at a more regular intervals, meeting the tight deadline for completion (Sep 1st 2017).
My tutor’s first feedback report did mention that I’d responded very fully to the brief, and I think he was worried that I might lose focus in the subsequent assignments. I hope I have not done that- I have worked hard to produce detailed but focussed and accurately referenced assignments. On the whole I think my tutor’s response to these has been positive, and I ve been very pleased.
Conversely I have allowed myself to go into more detail in several of the projects. I have enjoyed the opportunity of letting my mind run a little freer and allowed the possibility of making connections between the texts and topics as I proceeded. This may have added too much detail in places, but it has resulted in me developing the confidence to be a bit more creative in my thinking, and not being too inhibited about forming my own ideas about such complex issues.
Early in the course I decided that I would begin to extend the note-taking I was doing into some detailed ‘essay-style’ discussions of the material, allowing plenty of cross referencing, and some of my own thoughts on the material. This also included a few small criticisms of some of the more abstruse writing styles I encountered. I hope this has remained acceptable, appropriate and in the right spirit. Towards the end of the course I realised that this approach was quite time-consuming, and that I needed to get back to simple note-taking for several texts- in the interest of getting the module finished in time.
Much of the experiences in the module have been very new for me, and were certainly more encouraging and confidence-building than my POP experiences. I have learnt from this, and discussed with my tutor that I’d prefer to do a more general BA Fine arts pathway rather than the BA painting. I’d always known I was more of a generalist in Art –more than simply being a painter, but this module has shown me that I find the more theoretical basis of art and visual studies extremely exciting too. I am going to take a level 5 Drawing course next, but I now know that a broader approach to my art practice is the way forwards for me.
Having said this I know there are areas of my BLOG and the module which have not gone as I would have liked. Although the BLOG has plenty of detail, I have not published as regularly as I would have liked, and I have not done as much reflection, exhibition going, or alternative texts analysis as I should have liked or should have been good for me and my development. The BLOG lacks breadth, and it is a little too ‘academic’ and ‘dusty’ I think. I have not sustained it enough to really infuse life into its pages or achieve a large cultural momentum. Perhaps this is because I have not had the benefit of lots of followers, which might have given me more confidence and impetus.
The other major disappointment throughout the module was that I struggled to sustain any meaningful practical creative work in drawing and painting. This is mainly due to my very low confidence levels that I was left with at the end of ‘Practice of Painting’. I have done a little drawing and have included some of these in my exhibition write-ups, but much more was needed and is still needed.
My tutor has been remarkably helpful throughout the year. He has been very encouraging of my coursework and assignments, and has given me several routes forward to re-engaging with my art practice, by taking off a little of the pressure and coming at the problem in a slightly different way. I have just joined an urban sketch-crawler group in my home city of Liverpool, and have enjoyed this way of getting my enthusiasm for practical drawing back. I’ m also beginning to draw in a sketchbook, and have started to draw more regularly with less worries about results- the fear of a blank page can be hard to overcome, and needs to be- but I also need to overcome the fear of an ‘unsuccessful’ page- to draw more often and with greater perspective for the bigger picture.
In short I have really enjoyed the module. I feel it has gone really well for me in many many ways, chiefly as a means of renegotiating my priorities and perspectives for my art practice, and as a big boost to my confidence, energy and enthusiasm for my future study. I am not completely clear about how I will negotiate my future painting and drawing modules- and still have low confidence. But I am in a much better place to carry on and be able to take things and process struggles and challenges as they arise, and am looking forward to further study with OCA.