Review of Assignment Two (Option 2): (500 word +)


Conclusions at the end of the projects for assignment two:

First comments:

I began this section, with a dent in my confidence, due to a lower than hoped for mark at my last assessment.  This made me work slower and find it more difficult to make decisions.  If I was going to be hard on myself, I would also say that it at times has made me overthink what I am doing.

On a positive note, I found the disappointment from this low mark, a reason to do better and I was glad to see faults within my body of work or indeed way of working, which I felt I could now improve upon.

One thing I still have a problem with, is collecting too much information and maybe too many samples on one type of outcome, leaving my sketchbooks a tad samey at times. However I do see improvement on this, from previous courses.  I am learning to be more discerning on ideas which I develop.  I am developing a few rather than many.  Once I achieve a definite happy balance on this, I know I will be able to produce further refined and matured outcomes.

Reflection on the body of work for assignment two:

Any concerns that I have?

I produced so much basic material to work from, that it became hard to decide which ones to continue with.  This was due to the worry in my head that I was not experimenting hard enough, thus I wanted to try a lot of styles and ideas.  However this lead to producing a few samples of each, which took time.

How did I combat this?

At the beginning of the assignment, I read through the notes and reflected on my work so far.  I knew that I needed to experiment more and take more risks.  Thus I made an orderly typed list, which I could tick off as I went.

How have I decided to formulate the work I have made?

This was quite tricky; however this nervousness was new to me and I felt it had come about because of my low mark for my previous course.  I became less confident as to how to display my work to its best advantage.  However as I moved through the assignment, I kept going with various trials and found that it did come to me as I went.  To keep with my own style and balance this with clear presentation, in each case of work style, I took a different tack.  Some work grouped together naturally, say in the example of my drawing based work.  Thus I made a sketchbook to group this in.  In another case, the different techniques in fabric form all fitted in well in one handmade fabric sketchbook.

Materials to make each sketchbook were carefully chosen.  For example, the fabric book inspired by my mother and Liberty Print, had a handmade wax cotton exterior, to visually simulate her tough character.  I found a Liberties bag which I had kept from a shop visit, which tied in perfectly.

Some pieces were just not made to fit in sketchbooks, they were meant to be mounted or framed.  Thus I have kept these separately and will present these as mounted later for assessment.  They are all labelled, to clarify what they are.

The Boro book I made, had a “floppy” appearance, due to the materials used to create it.  In retrospect this may have been better harder, but I did intend for this style.  I wanted it to have a pieced together quality, in respect to traditional Boro work.  This contrasts to the quilted stiffer pages of the liberty fabric sketchbook, which seemed to fit at the time.

The more digitally based work seemed to need a more standard form of presentation.  Thus you will see that this is more regimented, although not as formatted as my artist research and exhibition visits folder.

Am I happy with what I have achieved presentation wise?

Yes.  I like to move away from the traditional sketchbook, but I also want to show how my work connects and develops; not just a clean showcase with no personality.  Thus I have tried to balance this within each book made.  It would be easier to simply work in a sketchbook, but I find this constrained and just isn’t personalised enough for myself.  I tend to wander around shops trying to find the perfect sketchbook, which never exists.

Did I take my initial ideas forward from the previous assignment?

Not at the beginning.  Even before I sent this work to my tutor, I realised that it was “nice” but not breaking any real artistic challenges.  In other words I was settling for less than my potential.  Thus it became necessary to at least add to this initial body of work.  Technically this was a negative, as it meant that I had to use a lot of time in assignment two making new work, rather than feeding off what I had made previously.  However on the positive, it made me take more risks and be allowed the chance to “think again” about how I wanted to stage this course, or at least this part.  I did not completely disregard my previous work (the florals and bees); yet I came to the conclusion that they were more suited as a “part” of a print, the decoration as it were, rather than the key meat.  You will see that in my printed designs sketchbook, I have tried to pursue a few ideas with them.  There are also chapters within my Log Book which are purely themed around them, such as ‘Exercise 2.3 Mirrored digital designs and others with floral roses and bees from assignment one’.

I have not as yet tied in this body of work, with the rest which I created within this course; I don’t see a definite connection as yet between these and the work surrounding my mother.  Maybe this will develop in time.

Can I look back and see specific artists who inspired me?

  I can see how certain artists qualities have infiltrated slightly, such as Louise Baldwin’s work.  Here is an example next to a piece of my own, my own in the one on the left:

The similarity here, is the coloured background married with the sense of line depicting facial detail.

I also feel a sense of Alice Kettle within me, which I can see coming out more as time goes on:

My work above left, Kettle right

Obviously I cannot identify every instance of an artistic similarity.  The key reason I am looking at this, is to further define who I am as an artist, rather than trying to be like someone just because I like their style.

Brief notes on each exercise:

Exercise 2.1

I followed the stages shown in the brief and was able to play with my designs.  I found it hard to stick to just hand drawn formats, I was dying to get into Photoshop and try repeats that way.  Yet it was a good to see the contrast between repeating a design by hand and by computer.

For this exercise, I chose to use my assignment one work in the main, to advance, expand and progress on the foundation I had built on through the previous assignment.  I had not produced any new work at this stage within this assignment, so this was a suitable choice.  I most enjoyed playing with the bees, as you can see I did merge this into a little digital play, which was furthered as the assignment went on.

Exercise 2.2

This was the most hands on physical creative stage for myself of the projects.  I strived to be the student again, discovering rather than repeating what I already knew.  I tried quite a few different ideas out, which did turn my head at times.  Yet this helped me in the pairing down process; seeing visually what I feel are my strongest concepts.

Exercise 2.3

I had previously done much research in this regard, thus I was able to get straight into the digital process.  I got frustrated at times, with my lack of knowledge in certain areas of Photoshop.  I kept reminding myself that this course sole purpose was not surface design, so this would be a skill which I would learn as I went and not to get too critical on myself.  Overall I am most pleased with the mirrored and half drop repeat work.  I had to learn how to do these things within Photoshop, thus I could actively put what I had learned into practice.


I have collated two types of research styles; one in a word computer format and one in paper form.  The paper form consists of leaflets, exhibitions I have been to and any picked up printed information which was difficult to collate in a digital format.

Has this worked?  Yes at the moment.  At this level, it is hard to have a one way style; as much is found on the internet and just as much in leaflet form.  I have endeavoured to keep this clear and concise, yet I don’t intend this to be “assessable” until the end of this course, thus I have the whole course to make this entirely presentable.  However you will find that I have made a lot of research through my Log Book here and in every project.

In the past, I know I have been guilty of researching artists who I like or who I want to be like.  However this is not helping me or widening my own learning or practice as I am staying within a safe zone.  So for this assignment in particular, I have looked at artists who I don’t like or who I have no idea of.  Has this helped?  Yes.  I remember years ago, when at college we had to admit to the teacher the colour we hated most and make an entire study of it.  This actually helped us all, as we had to work out of the areas we knew.  In the same way, choosing artists who I don’t have experience of or who simply I don’t like, helped me to expand my own learning.  Viewing things in this way, helped me to think of the course as a real learning journey, of discovery, a chance to make mistakes and move on from them.

Overall I feel I have researched enough for the projects as a whole.  Less research was made through Exercise 2.3, simply because I had already done the type of research I needed to do for this section within the previous sections too.  Of course I did keep reflecting back on this and kept on collating paper based research and visiting exhibitions to inform and taint my work.


At the beginning of this assignment, I got my tutors feedback from assignment one.  I reflected on this within the ‘Reflection on tutor’s feedback for assignment one’ document, I noted these points:

–          Try more variation and less repetition within my body of work.

The above comment from my tutor, gives me a focus here. I needed to work in a variety of media, not just a continuation of what I know. I feel that I have gone down a neat route, which needs messed up a little.  (Looking at my past sketchbooks, you will see that I am fully capable of creating a mess!)

–          Emotion from my work – can this appear in a colour way?

–          Less white backgrounds.  This will be a trickier one, as I am so used to them!

–          Varied relationships between print and collage/fabric.  Can one take over from the other?  Or can it overlap?  Or…one idea for me, would be to print on paper, then cut out the shapes with a variety of textured papers or fabrics underneath?  Like a cutaway applique idea.

–          Try repeat patterns with my designs created.

–          Mix concepts and imagery within sketchbooks.  Make more “raw”?

–          Save files separately to make my work easier to read.

I feel that I have definitely worked on many of the above notes from my tutor’s feedback, here are some of my observations:

o   My files have all been separated into clear documents, so that you know what you will find when you open it.

o   Much less white involved, i.e. bonded surface work.

o   More sketch work which leads to final conclusions.

o   More experimentation, set inside my fabric sketchbooks.

o   Repeat patterns created in a variety of ways and digital means.

o   I valued the post on OCA written about sketchbooks by my tutor.  I found myself looking back on this a few times and printing it out too.  The concept of a sketchbook being a ‘library of ideas’ stuck with me.  I think I can get too holed up on “clear presentation” and lose the look of a sketchbook.  Thus I have tried to apply some of the sentiments within this blog post.

After my low assessment, I had a phone call from my tutor, at which point I noted these thoughts down to work on:

  • Progression needs to be illustrated and obvious…differences between assignments one to five.  They can’t be the same.
  • Not about producing a mass of work, but rather a variety.
  • Take risks, things I may not like doing.
  • Don’t created a very predicable sketchbook, it doesn’t have to be pretty.
  • ‘Do all the things I feel are not appropriate’.
  • Mess it up.
  • Don’t stick to researching artists I like; look to those I can learn new from. This will actually turn my practice on its head.  Much research has been done by self on artists who I have felt “relate” to my practice; but I now need to learn, to look at artists who I can aspire to yes, but who will also freshen my practice.
  • My tutor noticed that I have a complicated situation, as I sell my artwork and I also teach, which both completely different. Then add that in this mix to the course and it can be hard to define where my student/teacher/seller status comes in.  Thus it can be hard to “learn” and easy to keep repeating what I know, as if I’m selling in a shop and already know my market.

How did I do in relation to the above?

  • Yes I do still produce a lot of work, yet this assignment really asked for it, as I had to trial many ideas to find the ones I wanted to hone down to and carry forward.
  • I have researched a variety of artists, not just my own personal favourites. This is talked about further within research.
  • I have played with ideas which I didn’t think I would like and have been surprised about the results in a lot of cases.
  • I lost a tad of confidence in setting up a sketchbook. However I have tried to get this back as the projects materialised.  A variety of sketchbook styles and formats has been demonstrated.
  • Endeavouring to become more the student and not the practising artist. This was hard as I still have to teach and sell my work.  However I feel that I have managed this more through this assignment, it has a wider breadth of demonstrated variety and experimentation.  At times I did feel out of my depth and I did lose confidence at times; was I doing it “right”?  I kept reminding myself that right wasn’t an answer; I had to keep going and trying, making mistakes as I went.  This would all become part of my rounded out body of work.  It reminded me to being at school and taught that even when I got answers wrong, I would get marks for the comments and working out.  Thus I will keep trying to convey this “working out” stage rather than the polished piece.

Favourite work?

I feel most strongly about my Bonded Surface pieces.  The pieces I decided to print onto fabric were particularly strong.  They are a key example of trying something new and seeing how new ideas can work, simply by probing new ideas.

Digital alteration, such as filters, layers, repeats etc were all trialled through Adobe Photoshop.  This was a learning on the job approach for myself, as I have never had to look this deep into digital formats.  However I thoroughly researched websites, books and tutorials to understand as much as possible.

I also like my Boro work, the idea of piecing together old cloth appeals to myself.  The blue colours I used, both by fabric choice and hand dyed colour, harked back to traditional Boro work, whilst still coming across as contemporary, due to the cross over with the hand dyed areas and decolourant paste with stencil work.

Below:  The image on the left shows a scan of a part of my Boro work; which was then digitally played with and made into a mirrored pattern:

Reflecting back on this, it’s certainly not what I expected to produce, yet it is more exciting than what I had in mind.  I love the rust colours which stand out on parts of the above.  You can see more of this work within the relevant sections in my Log Book.

The above is just a capsule look, but it states the main areas.

Points I have noted to work on in the future:

–          Develop more on each idea, i.e. I see chinks of light within certain pieces or styles of creating, which I would like to develop.  I chose not to further some favourite pieces or make more of them, as I wanted to create variety rather than pursue one idea I felt comfortable with.  Thus this was not a weak point but rather something that I want to develop. I would like to decide on only one or two ideas to try and develop these over time, rather than a wide showcase of many.  Yet this was needed for this assignment and also for myself, to really push my learning.

–          Continue to learn more about Photoshop and how to make my prints as strong as possible.  This means further reading and experimentation.

–          I tried to get books out of the Library which I knew I would need or those I felt would need for the course.  Most were impossible to access, so I did have to rely on my own bought library, magazines and online resources.  In the future I do have a list of books to buy as and when, to educate my practice.

–          Keep more traveling sketchbooks, maybe I can try to work inside a sketchbook more, than all lose leaf?  This would expose a sense of diversity in my presentational approach.



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