Reflections at the end of Diploma of Visual Arts and 2013
Today I handed in the last of my artworks for assessment and tidied up my work space in the second year studio. With about three months ahead before things get going next year, I like to take a while to collect my thoughts about this past year, and indeed the past two years of my Diploma of Visual Art course as well as where my art is going in the various societies and guilds of which I am a member and in general.
Being the fairly ambitious person that I am, I could only try to produce the best quality I could muster as well as trying to be a little more experimental and creative with both materials and subjects as the second half of this year wound up. The latter part of the course, I felt was a time to really decide on the style of paintings I want to produce commercially and what subjects I think will reflect my interests, my personality and be of interest to a potential client.
This has led to a series of much larger works than I had ever produced before as well as looking as some new subjects. The pure joy in researching and painting these is something I can’t put into words. I feel however, that it has all come out in the final look of the works which hopefully will tell what I can not.
As with many artists of the past, my research into masters of the past and present has led me on a journey of discovery of how each has been influenced by those that came before them. In a lot of cases one artist that I very much admire was greatly influenced by another artist that I admire. This chain of talent and evolving method and style has been a revelation in my own search for a style of my own. Everything is linked, there has emerged a clear path from one to another going back in time, or maybe rather, forward in time leading to me – trying to create my own place in art and the world.
I have read a lot this year, the art book collection has grown in my home studio as study into one artist has led to yet another book about their influences. Reading, again has become an important part of my life.
I have also sought out mentors outside of the TAFE system. I either look for someone who I trust to help me with a perceived weakness or someone to help me to develop the style I am developing and the in-depth technical knowledge of materials and methods to go to the next level. My main tutor for this during the year has been David Chen, who won the Camberwell Art Prize this year and who has very impressive qualifications in fine art. I also spent time with Glenn Hoyle for his great ability to get my head around the methods of painting water colours and Cathy Van Ee who paints beautiful portraits and has brought out in me some of the best I have ever done. Without these amazing people I would not be finishing off this year so much the better than last year.
At this point I also want to mention how important it has been to have a supportive partner/spouse. I know a lot of women in particular who do not have support from family, friends or colleagues. Their art is seen as a nice hobby but nothing to be taken seriously. In some cases they are belittled and put down which I find hugely offensive. I have been very lucky, my husband is totally supportive of what I am doing. He helps me when I have a project that requires power tools that I can not use well or safely, he advises on my work in a positive manner and wants me to continue my studies and my goal to build an arts practice. He attends openings with me, workshops on occasion and school events as well. He has set up my studio space and talks to me about how we can expand it to make sure I have all the facilities that I need as my practice grows. He even helps with accounts and financial support for materials and exhibition entries and courier fees. All whilst only having a part time job and a still developing IT business which he is building.
So, what now as I sit in the library on the last day? I will be here at TAFE when we come back after assessment to clean up and arrange our works for the end of year art exhibition and sale from the college, and meanwhile I am thinking of what plans I have for the coming weeks and months.
For example, I have a home studio to clean and tidy up, paintings to archive or recycle and paperwork to file – for a start. I am going for a private tour of the archives at McClelland Gallery tomorrow. As a volunteer at the gallery I asked and they said yes. Next week I am volunteering at the Gallery for a workshop for kids.
I have been given some “homework” by the Frankston Camera shop where I did two workshops recently, in the form of taking a photo a day for the entirety of the holidays with different settings on the camera. I hope to work this in with building my reference library of images for future artworks. I plan to get out and do some painting plein air while the weather is warm whilst doing the photography as well.
In January 2014 I have booked in for two all day workshops with Cathy Van Ee to draw and paint portraits.
No doubt there will be a holiday program at the McClelland Gallery so more workshops may be coming up before and after Christmas. Participating in kids’ workshops may sound a bit strange for an emerging artist, but there are benefits for not only the kids who learn from an artist. Fresh minds and the lack of fear when kids create can be very inspiring. As I have a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment it also helps me to learn how to teach kids of all ages. It is also fun. It is a chance to not be too serious about art and to “play” if you will, with materials and subject you don’t in your practise. So, I am looking forward to any of these that I can join in on.
Starting in February next year I will be doing five all day workshops with David Chen learning all the aspects I can about drawing and painting still life. I have also booked in with David for a further five workshops starting in June next year, drawing and painting life studies (nudes) from live models. Meanwhile there are the last demonstrations at two of the guilds of which I am a member where we present work to be judged for artist of the year. I have done fairly well at both places this year and hope to wind up with a place if not a win at both.
At the end of November we will be deciding what course to do next year. As TAFE is close to home so not too tiring as far as travel is concerned, I hope and plan to be back here next year. TAFE has been working towards offering a degree course so if that is available I want to do that and go on to do an honours year if I do well enough. If that doesn’t happen I will go to “Plan B” and do the Advanced Diploma course in preparation for the degree course wherever I can do it. I have always been sorry that I didn’t go on with studies years ago to obtain my BA in Art, so am determined to achieve it in the next few years.
Along with entering regular art exhibitions during coming months it is looking like another busy and productive year. To add to these I have also looked at doing a short course in accounting so that I can be of more use in our business and helping with the BAS, payroll, banking and business reporting in future so that if my husband is busy I can take over a bit of the burden. I also think it is important that I understand all of this for selling artworks and running an arts business. We will see if I can fit that one in!
On November 21st we have the opening of the End of Year Exhibition. Artworks will be on display and for sale and there will be some short speeches wrapping up the year and our courses. I am looking forward to seeing all the work that fellow students will have in the exhibition, an event that I have been on the committee for, helping with posters and other printed material.
Next week we stay away from TAFE whilst our work is assessed, we then return on the 18th to clean up our work areas, clear everything out and hang the exhibition.
I am hoping that I will be so busy with activities set up during the break that I don’t miss this haven from the world too much, but I think, every now and then I will. More than just the place – it is also the people, those that I have trained with and those that I have learnt from. Keen for the results and the break – I am also a bit sad because it is the finish of the year. Thank you to everyone for making it such a memorable part of my life… and have a great holiday!