During the Certificate in Drawing & Visual Investigation I discovered some of the below important aspects in how I should approach my work:


1. Observation

As a contemporary artist, it is important to learn how to view the world in a different way than to how most people view it.  It can take time to train your mind to observe objects and appreciate them in a different and more interesting manner than to how most people would perceive them.  This way of viewing the world took quite some time for me to adopt to, however, studying other contemporary artists and how they view the world helped me hugely with this process.  You need to be able to:


* Take the ordinary and realistic and turn it into something extraordinary and abstract

* Look at different angles and focus on certain points within a frame - eg. look at objects in isolation and exaggerate them in some aspect 

* Give emotion to your subject and make simple objects interesting and challenging 

2. Importance of Research Notebooks/Visual Diary



I started to keep both a Research Notebook (for my project work/ideas) and a Reflexive Diary (to keep a record of what we had studied in each class) during the Certificate course.  My Reflexive Diary consisted of a section ‘Class Details’ followed by a ‘Reflexive’ paragraph outlining anything new that I had I learnt in each class and areas that I felt I may need further development within.

We are very lucky in todays society as maintaining a record of our ideas has become so much easier to achieve due to the many accessible items that we tend to keep on us at all times (such as your laptop/phone/tablet); you therefore do not need to carry around an actual diary/workbook at all times.  A phone is a great way of keeping notes and photos whenever you are out and inspiration hits.  I usually keep notes and photographs on my phone during the day and then create a backup hard copy of these ideas in a notebook in order to keep track of my ideas.  This is very much a personal choice as to what suits you best so you should experiment in order to see what you prefer; I really do encourage you to work on achieving an ongoing diary though as I found it to be one of the most valuable things that I learnt to do as an artist.  Constant awareness and consciousness of your surroundings and emotions is of the utmost importance in order to form ideas.  Also, you do not want to let an idea pass you by which tends to happen sometimes if you don't maintain a record of all of your thoughts and ideas.  Again I highlight the importance of your theme and how you need to start viewing the world in relation to your theme and always be on the look out for ideas that may relate back to this subject.

3. Focusing on specific themes in your work




It is important for an artist to find their identity and establish what they want their work to stand for and what emotions they wish to portray through it.  You can choose a broad theme that covers many areas but you should always try to connect your work together to form an identity and underlying common meaning to it.  Themes may be implied rather than explicitly stated. 


Prior to this course I had never focused on just one idea or thoroughly thought about what it was that I wanted my art to represent so the Certificate year was a great time for me to try out different themes and discover my identity as an artist.  This allowed me to discover what inspired me, my preferred materials and to find a subject that meant something meaningful to me.  Themes I looked at during the Certificate year were 'My Environment' (project 1), 'Opulence' (project 2) and 'Rhythm/Connections' (project 3).  I believe that it was during project 3 when I started to discover my identity as an artist; containment featured strongly as a theme during this project and much of my later work would revolve around this subject.  I also found a great deal of inspiration while working on my exhibition review of Edvard Munch.  The themes that I found in Munchs work (such as anxiety) would influence me quite a lot in the future as I focused a great deal on this subject matter during the Diploma in Art & Design


Your theme should consume you and you should continuously observe your surroundings in an attempt to find inspiration in relation to your chosen subject.

4. Looking to other artists for inspiration




Though I have always loved art, I had never thoroughly studied particular artists (or genres) and followed a body of work throughout its lifespan and thus observed how artists constantly explore and yet still find their own unique identity throughout their career. 


During the Certificate course I learnt how important it is to look to other artists and how it really does help to motivate and inspire you by researching other work - the N.C.A.D. library is a great source of information and I spent a lot of time sourcing books here.  As mentioned above, during my exhibition review I found a connection in the work of Edvard Munch and, even though I may not have a similar painting style to that of Munch, I was still fascinated by his subject matters and how he reflected them in his work.  It excited me to take similar subjects, such as anxiety, and find my own way of reflecting these into my body of work.  It is very important to source artists who have followed the same theme, or, use the same materials as you (whether this be drawing, painting, sculpture, video, photography etc.) and compare how they studied and developed their ideas within these themes/materials.  


5. Imp0rtance of networking with others in the class


The comradery in the class is amazing - not only in the Certificate course but in all classes that I have taken with N.C.A.D. to date.  You are encouraged to share your ideas and provide project presentations on a continuous basis.  This therefore helps to build upon your presentation skills and, though it can be nerve-wrecking for some people at the beginning, there is such great encouragement felt throughout the class that this fear soon fades.



Students are encouraged to share even their most basic pieces of work and ideas because the class focuses on how (no matter how basic your piece/idea may appear to be at the start of your project) you can make every idea grow into something amazing if you work hard enough at it and experiment with numerous possibilities in relation to the piece/idea.  Through the presentations and sharing of work you can learn so many new techniques from others in the class - especially due to the fact that the course is for mature students and therefore people enter this course with many different backgrounds and life experiences.  This networking will also assist you in other ways, such as, the sharing of information on studio space, exhibitions, other class availability and even in setting up your own art groups and exhibitions. 


6. Experimentation


I feel that I did not take enough of an advantage in experimenting on the multitude of techniques used in contemporary art throughout the Certificate course.  It is largely up to you to discover materials and techniques for yourself while researching your projects - you may then use your classmates and lecturers to further source information on these techniques that interest you. 


Again I highlight the fact that no matter how simplistic you may feel an idea is, this idea may in fact be used as a stepping stone towards something else much greater.  You need to fully immerse yourself and all of your emotions into what may begin as the most basic idea but then (through hard work, believing and connecting with your subject and being open to constant trial and error in experimentation) this idea may grow and develop into something amazing. This is how you will find your identity and where you want to be within the art world.