I went to the wood workshop to get a range of sizes of board to work on ready for my crit which is happening during week 7. I decided to get board as I enjoy working on smooth surfaces and I don’t have to worry about added texture that you get on a canvas although I may progress to working on canvas in the future if it will benefit my work.
I started working on several board paintings at once so that while one dried, I could continue making progress on others as often I overwork pieces and so this allows me to avoid doing that.
This is the first painting I started to work on where I focused on using a neutral colour palette which was very realistic to the goat I initially did a quick drawing of at Tropical Birdland. I need to continue layering the different tones to build up details and areas of contrast but I am liking where this painting is going.
For this sheep painting, I firstly sketched the image onto the board before using a pyrography machine to burn the outlines of each element. I then applied paint over the top which created an interesting effect and this is something I would like to explore further in this project, maybe even experimenting with adding more details and mark making to see how that could affect my outcomes.
I have started this horse painting by applying watercolours down as a base to allow me to work out which tones of colour work best with the horse. I find the effect of using the watercolours quite interesting as the paints look rather subtle due to them being watered down. I would like to explore combining areas of watercolour and acrylic on board to see if this would create an effect that I continue in my project further down the line.
This goat painting involved an experimentation with the tones of green I was using in the background as in the previous paintings I focused on using a viridian green and a sap green so this allowed me to break out of old habits and start to be really experimental with colour used and how it affects the look of the animal and the enclosure itself.
Robert Phelps started his artistic career by being a decorative painter at Disney, mainly painting interesting scenes and doing caricature work. He progressed onto becoming a Fine Artist, doing exhibitions since 1996. His subject matter is of vibrant and uniquely coloured figures, both portraits of humans and animals.
I have decided to research into Robert Phelps as I felt his focus on animals and colour relates to my ideas for my project nicely and I could benefit from trying out his methods of applying paint onto a surface. His works have an Expressionist or Fauvist style which I find interesting as I have researched these terms throughout art history and I could benefit by researching these further.
I like the fact that Robert Phelps doesn’t limit himself to one type/group of animals and I feel that I should try to do studies of a range of animals rather than just farm animals although this will involve going to places like zoos to gain primary evidence which I will have to arrange in my free time.
I couldn’t gain access to good quality pictures of Robert Phelps work due to security on the website so I took a screenshot. Although the image isn’t a great quality, this painting relates to my project through the use of the goat and a sense of being in an enclosure. I particularly feel that the combinations of bright and dark colours create a great balance and makes the image very captivating.
Although this painting has a lot more realistic colours, it still has small strokes of colour which add depth and make the audience want to spend more time looking at the painting. An interesting quality of Robert Phelps work is the range of backgrounds and environments which the animals are in, making me wonder if he has a lot of access to different animal attractions or whether he works from photographs.
https://www.youtube.com/shorts/EaFovmt0JUs – short video of Robert Phelps working on some paintings. I decided to include this video as it shows that he likes to use his fingers to apply paint as well as brushes which I think is a really interesting method as it can add texture and make the artist literally a part of their work. I also found out through the description of the video that he likes to experiment with ‘alla prima painting’ which is a wet on wet paint technique that allows you to produce work in a spontaneous style without too much perfectionism.
This week, I continued to work on my A one sized paintings and added a fence around the deer inspired by my time at the farm which I feel added an interesting element to the painting which I liked.
I decided to add some quick bright white highlights which I feel added an interesting aspect to this piece and made it a lot more realistic. I am very happy with this piece overall and the ways that it introduces my theme of animals in enclosures. I look forward to seeing how I develop this idea further in my next paintings.
Owl painting: I also finished the owl painting with acrylic paints and oil pastels, using layering to create an eye catching expressive piece which I feel works well. I am considering adding an enclosure of some sort to relate it to the other work I am doing but I don’t want to ruin it. I feel that the expressive background really adds to the image overall to create an interesting painting for this project.
I also decided to go back to the farm to capture more imagery and even went to Tropical Bird-land in Desford to get some drawings done of birds within enclosures too. There was a section with a range of birds out of their enclosures where people could touch them which I thought could be interesting to study within my work, exploring how being out of their enclosures could affect the animals (positive effects).
I added some colour to some of my drawings, both from this week and last week to explore colour palettes and get a sense of what works well before I start to work onto board.
During the second week, I had a tutorial in which I discussed my ideas with my tutor and she gave me ideas of how I could make further progress.
From my drawings, my tutor felt that they were all done with the same amount of pressure on the pencil and I could have benefitted from capturing a range of line thicknesses and tones to add more detail and realism. I need to keep the looseness of the drawings but refine areas to make it more effective.
Also, although the museum for drawing animals was a good initial start, she felt that I could go to actual farms and zoos and capture the animals within their enclosures to add more context and create a link to last years project which included areas of linear fences which my tutor was drawn to when looking at my work from last year. I was encouraged to get a range of wooden boards as I enjoy working on board and work to a range of sizes, both small and large to explore colour palettes.
My tutorial really helped me understand how to progress with this project and I feel I have a lot to keep me busy in the upcoming weeks.
Using one of my deer drawings and one of my owl sketches, I started to do A one sized paintings exploring mark making and my subjects, experimenting with what could work for me. Being able to use palette knives reminded me of the start of second year which I thoroughly enjoyed and I enjoyed being expressive with my mark makings.
I decided to go to Gorse Hill farm in order to capture animals within their enclosures as my tutor thought that would add some context to my work and allow me to capture the lifelikeness of the animals. This also related to areas of my work from the end of last year having fences around them and are areas I can create a lot of contrast in my work.
I did some studies in watercolours and coloured pencils to add a sense of colour experimentation in my work.
I need to go to the wood workshop to get some board to paint on at a range of sizes in order for me to zoom into certain sections and explore colour palettes.
When it comes to becoming a self employed artist, there are two questions you should ask yourself – What are your ambitions? and what are your hopes/dreams? The size of these ambitions matter as they show where you want to end up, which could be within the local art world, the national art world or the international art world. There can also be crossovers, with some artists going from one to another throughout their careers. Most people begin locally and so this is something to consider, which city, place or practice do you want to start out in?
As well as different art worlds, there are also different exhibition venues including self hire/manage, commercial and artist run:
The self hire/manage exhibition venues are very expensive and used by artists making specific work for people they know are definitely going to buy the work.
The Commercial exhibition venues include semi craft shops and galleries in Cork Street. It is vital to be aware of all the different types of Commercial galleries and a good starting point would be to research London based galleries and then go to visit them in your spare time to see the types of art that are exhibited – then can understand if your work fits their criteria’s. Most often with commercial venues, you have to be introduced to the galleries before they even consider you in the exhibition – good idea to establish yourself beforehand and do a lot of networking.
Artist run exhibition venues are often attached to studio spaces and artists collectives such as Two Queens in Leicester. The work in these venues don’t usually have success commercially but it allows artists to exhibit on their own terms without being told to change their work to fit a particular space or theme. Artists have also found non gallery spaces to present their work since most galleries can be picky/closed off or difficult to get into.
Non gallery spaces include empty spaces which are commissioned. Gardens, outdoor areas, work made specifically to be presented in particular venues. In some places, shop owners allow artists to use their empty shops whilst away to prevent areas becoming derelict.
Billboard companies also allow artists to present their work for a cheap price or sometimes for free as this is advantageous for the billboard companies to create greater visibility and remind businesses that the companies still exist. Commercial companies often do things to benefit themselves.
Often using empty shops or other similar venues requires public liability insurance which is incredibly expensive as you are considered a commercial company. Artists are able to obtain cheaper public liability insurance through access which is an artist organisation that publicly buys public liability insurance.
A key area to research is art organisations. The A.N (previously known as the artists newsletter) is a good thing to subscribe to for the legality of being an artist and it has a lot of information making it a good service.
A.N has a section dedicated to art assistant jobs – both artist assistants and gallery assistants. It is important to think about your skill set and what skills may need to be developed to suit this job. These jobs are very variated, can be fun or difficult depending on how demanding the person/people you are working for are.
Artist assistant – gives you an insight into how the art world works which is important as it is a complex system. This also gives you the chance to build a network of connections which can come in handy in future endeavours. Can involve making cups of tea or sweeping the floor, even making the artists work.
Personal assistants – sometimes artist assistants can be promoted to becoming personal assistants which involves booking trains or materials for private viewings, sourcing things.
Gallery assistant jobs – often through internships, involve a lot of computer work via setting up websites, handling social media.
Artist residencies research:
There are a range of different residencies with some artists moving from one to another throughout their life, also known as alter modernity or nomads. The different types of artist residencies are aimed at different stages of artistic careers, some for established artists and others for emerging artists.
Types of residencies:
Non funded residencies – for a mix of affluent amateurs and people who have a lot of experience. Res artis website offers lots of opportunities.
Part funded – free accommodation/studio space but no travel (although the travel costs can be funded by art organisations so research is vital.)
Fully funded – very competitive. high standard and high application numbers.
During COVID there were online artists residencies but they were incredibly hard to control and translate, in person residencies give a sense of time and place.
Most artist residencies keep in touch after and follow your artistic career afterwards – very rewarding process. Some residencies even allow your family to come which is great for single parents or parents struggling with child care – even though children can be distracting. Some residencies are project based, some offer technical support, residencies responding to a theme. There are a lot of exhibition opportunities after you take part in an artist residency.
Artist collectives are a good idea as they offer conversation opportunities and discourse, artist talks, lectures, crits. It is much easier to get funding for collectives vs as individuals. Collective studio spaces give you support, both physical and psychological support, motivation. Collective exhibitions more likely than individual one.
Location is very important within the art world with different places offering different opportunities with different places suiting people for a range of reasons.
After university, a key problem is accessing facilities, so an artist studio is a good idea. Budget is also key as materials can be expensive.
At this moment in time, I am unsure of what I want to do after my University degree. I know that I want to go straight into a job and then consider doing a masters course in a year or two if I decide it is something I want to pursue but I am currently in no rush.
The job I get may be a normal retail job for me to get experience but I am hoping to discover an artistic job so my degree hasn’t been a waste of time. To assist me with finding jobs that are relevant, I started to do some assessments on the ‘National Career Service’ which uses your interests and skills to recommend relevant job opportunities.
The assessments are used to identify skills you already have, your interests, your work ethic and good things about you that make you suitable for certain jobs. Each assessment takes around 15 minutes to 30 minutes and there are 10 in total. I am working my way through them all so that a report can be generated for me which will give me jobs that would be suitable towards me individually as well as suggesting areas of improvement which could greatly benefit me.
I finished my assessments and downloaded my report:
Here is a copy of my Skills Health Check that you can download and view. I have also attached a range of screenshots in case any technical problems occur.
I am really glad that the report gives me thorough information about my strengths and areas for improvement with tips as I now know what I should work on to build my employability and make a good impression to employers.
I am going to speak to a careers advisor when I have the chance so that they could recommend some more detailed information and specific jobs rather than ‘job families’ as I feel this could be an eye opener and could allow me to find a career I feel gives me a purpose and allows me to make the most of my degree doing something I love.
To start off third year, we are going to be doing an ‘opening project’ to allow us to get into the process of creating work again and to create a body of work with a high focus on presentation skills. This project involves a critical review a few weeks into the project which does feel like a lot of pressure but we have been told to just enjoy the process, making sure to experiment, take risks and mostly have fun.
I have decided that I want to move away from architectural subjects for now and do an animal based project as I feel that I have grown bored of architectural based art (in first year I did a project on the Leicester train station, in second year I focused on Cornwall architecture in the first term and Leicester architecture in the second term.
Although I do enjoy architecture, COVID during most of second year really made me feel demotivated and I feel like I didn’t produce work to my usual standard and so I feel that doing something different could push me more and get me more into the process of creating. I may go back to architectural based subjects after this project.
Feedback from last year and how I am planning to move forward this year: Good points – “There is a stillness and quality of light captured within the work on paper ‘Wilberforce Road’ which imbues it with a real atmosphere and sense of what might be about to take place. This can, in part, be directly attributed to a more nuanced use of colour than is on display everywhere else across the practice. Taking some time to analyse this work, and keeping it in mind when developing your practice further will serve you well in the future. Elsewhere evidence of an effective grasp of relevant material, principles, key concepts and practices is on display with the statement providing some evidence of critical analysis and insight.”
Suggestions for improvement – “A more developed understanding of colour would hugely benefit the work as a whole as the cartoonish hues do nothing to enhance the mysterious qualities within the work – typified by their awkward viewpoints and deserted locations. Whilst some degree of creativity, conceptual ability and critical analysis is clearly present, an ability to synthesise material and contextual research is lacking. Looking to filmmakers shows creative initiative, but being more selective in terms of other contextual research, and analysing the qualities within their work you’d like for your own, will hugely enhance your practice going forward.”
What I hope to achieve/do differently using feedback from last year (write about areas of improvement/weaknesses, what I hope to carry forward this year/strengths)
I visited New Walk museum which has an animal section filled with a range of taxidermy animals which allowed me to capture a range of angles and views of the animals. The taxidermy process means that some of the animals look quite distorted (particularly in facial features) but I still felt going there to do sketches was a good idea, I may even go back in the next couple of weeks to get more.
I did the drawings on sheets of A3 paper pulled out of a sketchbook but divided and cut the pages into sheets of A4. I didn’t want to work in a sketchbook as I can find that rather limiting and then I can often struggle to break out of the sketchbook.