10 of my best images from the modules Field and Constellation during my first year at university
10 of my best images from the modules Field and Constellation during my first year at university
My reflection on the subject module which is made up of many projects and workshops.
At the start of this module I took part in many different workshops. From these workshops I learnt about how words can have a massive impact on a piece of work, how colours can be interpreted differently, I learnt how to dry point etch, how colours can effect a composition and I have learnt that negative space is important within a piece. I learnt all of these things from workshops such as words to draw by and the colour workshop. I was then able to use these skills and knowledge throughout the year when completing my work.
For the project A Streetcar Named Desire, based on the play, we chose inanimate objects to represent the characters which we then had to personify using colour and other techniques. I learnt that colours are an important part of telling a story as they can be used to portray emotion or the relationship between two characters. I also learnt how colour can be used to personify inanimate objects and so can the framing of an image. I also learnt how motifs can be used to help bring inanimate objects to life and how the angle and framing of an image can be used to exaggerate emotions within that scene.
Through this module we also did life drawing. In these sessions we focused on different things, one session was about capturing movement in an image whilst another was about capturing the moment before something happens. I found these session helpful as I was able to learn new skills as well as improving my life drawing, I learnt how to use lines to portray tension in muscles. I also practised using verbs when drawing to make a line look like its pushing, or scratching in order to show movement.
In the project Metamorphosis, based on the book, I learnt many skills including how to draw with a scalpel in order to create looser forms and how to work in a group as we had to work together in order to put on a puppet show at the end of the project. I enjoyed working as a team for this project as we were able to bounce our ideas off each other and select the best ones to develop. Working in a group also enabled us to combine our skills as one person knew how to create and edit the sound we would need for our performance, whilst others were skilled with a scalpel and able to cut out intricate designs. This project also allowed me to develop my compositional skills as composition is very important when working with shadow puppets.
The 12 days of illustrated christmas news project allowed me to develop my skills with paper as I created an interactive pop up book. This project also enabled me to create satirical work which wasn’t something I had ever done before. This project challenged me as I found it difficult to find 12 interesting news stories that I could illustrate but doing this improved my research skills.
I also went on a trip to London where I visited the Whitechapel Gallery to see William Kentridges work. I found this very interesting, especially the way that in one of the instillation pieces sound and music was used as a way to immerse you in the piece. The strange machines and noises partly inspired some of my field work.
I took part in various technical workshops including dry point etching, block printing and lino cutting. The block printing and lino cutting workshops were very similar but I enjoyed them and these workshops allowed me to learn new techniques that I had very little experience with. I didn’t use these techniques in any of my projects but I would like to experiment with them further.
The final project in the subject module, the Children’s Book Brief, allowed me to bring together all of the skills and knowledge that I’d learnt in the first year which I could then demonstrate in my work. I was able to use what I had learnt about colour and composition when creating the pages for my book. I was also able to use the skills learnt in the words to draw by workshop as I needed to carefully consider what text to use and how I would incorporate it into my book. I also used the knowledge that negative space is important when designing the layout for my pages. I also incorporated new skills such as how to bind a book, and I have been experimenting with a watercolour and conte pencil technique that still needs development. I also enjoyed creating 3D sculptures of my characters that enabled me to improve my drawings of them as it helped them look more life like and it helped me to give them more character. During this project I was also able to develop my researching skills as this was a major part of the brief. It allowed me to critique work and explain why I chose to look at it. Some of the artists that have inspired me include Shaun Tan and Anastasia Izlesou. This research and analysis came in useful when a small brief for critiquing some work from the degree show was set .
My personal reflection of the Field part of my first year at university.
The Field module of my first year at university was about working with other people from the same or different disciplines so that we would be able to combine our different skills and knowledge in order to collaboratively create pieces of work.
We started the module by doing some short projects in groups based on the idea of manifestoes that we considered important. For these short projects the group that I was in made work based on the topic of animal rights. From doing this I learnt that some approaches to group tasks can be unsuccessful and that communication is key when trying to create a piece of work that coheres. In our group we thought it was best to split up into smaller groups to compete our work and bring everything together at he end. This did not work so well especially for the Guernica project where we had to create one large piece of work together. We found that we had not communicated our ideas well and because of this our work did not fit well together as one big piece. In future it would be best to talk more as a group to ensure that we all understand our individual tasks within the group.
The second project that we were given involved us being put into new groups, this project was also longer than the shorter previous ones. This project was centred around a soldier’s story from the Spanish Civil War. This group project was more successful than the other ones that I had taken part in because we communicated more, sharing our ideas in order to ensure it would work with the other members work. We decided to individually produce a response to the soldier’s story and then bring all our work together in the end so that it could be displayed as more of a collection of items that told the story. I also collaborated with an animation student in order to produce the main feature of our mini exhibition, a map that showed where the soldier travelled during his lifetime. I enjoyed this collaborative process as it allowed us to improve our original ideas by discussing them with each other and sharing each others knowledge in order to produce an animated map. Another major part of this project was research, as a group we looked at propaganda posters from the Spanish Civil War. Individually I also looked at old postcards to inspire my designs. This project also allowed me to develop some of my skills such as screen printing. I used paper stencils fixed to a screen in order to print my postcards. I had used this technique before but this project allowed me to experiment with it further as I was able to build up my images with multiple colours that had to be printed separately.
The final part of this module was to create an individual or collaborative piece that responded to the topic of animation, propaganda and satire. I really enjoyed this project as it allowed me to develop a piece of work from another project further and it also allowed me to learn lots of new skills that I had no previous experience with. These skills included using a new programme for stop motion, learning how to set up lighting, experimenting with the camera angle and then learning how to add different items in AfterEffects. I also learnt how to bring everything together in PremierPro and how to include existing sound effects in my animation. I also learnt briefly how to edit green screen footage. This project enabled me to learn a number of new skills, some independently and some with the help of others. This project also helped me to learn how to manage my time effectively in order to meet deadlines. I also learnt how to create a story board for an animation.
The development of my two final colour page spreads and the cover for my illustrated book based on the story The Singing Bone.
After I had finished my dummy book I started my finished, full colour page spreads. Part of the brief was to do 2 finished colour page spreads as well as the finished cover in colour. I started by choosing 2 pages that I thought would contrast with each other and that would look interesting in colour. I then used a number of materials to add colour including watercolour, gouache, acrylic paint and a conte pencil.
I then used photoshop and indesign to add text to the cover and to the pages. I also added page and bleed lines to the images. The text is hand written, I decided to do this as I felt it would fit with the simple, rustic theme more. This also allowed me to simply emphasise words which add to the drama of the story. I also made a change to one of the pages in photoshop, I decided to move the character up the page as he was too close to the edge, I think this has made him easier to see.
To improve these pages I would change some things. I need to re-doo the text to make it more even and regular as at the moment it looks too rough. I would also experiment more with line and develop the paint and charcoal/conte pencil technique. I would use different thicknesses of line in my images and use line for other parts of the pictures and not just the characters as i think this would help me to bring my composition together as a whole. I would also make the background lighter in the image with the boar in order to emphasise what is going on in the foreground.
The mock book that I made containing pencil sketches based on the story The Singing Bone.
As part of the brief we had to produce a dummy book which included rough sketches for all of the pages of our book, the title page, the endpapers and the cover. I started by drawing out all my roughs first, I then stitched them together to keep them in place. I then made the endpapers and covers and attached them to the pages of the book. Most of the pages in my dummy book are the same as the rough sketches in my flat page plan. One of the things that I have changed is the position of the text on some of the pages so that I could fit it in without interfering with the images. I also changed the format of the text on the text only pages, they now have individual backgrounds to fit with each opposite page. Another change is that not all of the text pages feature the text in a white box, this feature only appears on some pages where the backgrounds are dark or the text overlaps different features of the background.
A colour page plan for my illustrated book The Singing Bone based on The Grimm Brother’s story for the children’s book brief.
In order to demonstrate how my book would look in full colour I made a rougher, more vague version of my page plan. I used watercolours to roughly show what colours would be present on each page and where. I did this as it helps people to get a better feel for how the whole book would look, it also emphasises what is happening on each page and it helps the viewer to connect with the story more.
My reflection on what I have learnt from the constellation module at university.
What I Have Learnt
During this constellation module; Smells Like Teen Spirit, I have learnt many things about analysing work and making connections. I have learnt how to effectively analyse other work, and my own, and use theories from authors and academics to back up my analysis. This has helped me to explain creative decisions within my own work and the contexts behind these decisions. It has also enabled me to understand how messages and ideologies can be conveyed through people’s work and in turn it has enabled me to consider how I could convey messages through my own work. I have learnt how to unpick aspects of my work in order to effectively explain why I have chosen to include certain colours, figures or motifs within my work.
By using different subcultures as mini case studies I have learnt what each subculture can teach and inform me about my own practice. From looking at the gothic subculture I learnt that you can take inspiration from other styles and influences in order to inspire your own practice and that inspiration can come from a range of different mediums. For example many aspects of the gothic style is inspired by gothic literature.
From looking at the hip-hop subculture I have learnt that objects and possessions can be combined to create new meanings and political statements and this can then be applied to my practice. I also learnt that the context in which you use or include objects can create new meanings. I also learnt from this subculture that history and heritage can influence design. For example the inclusion of traditional African clothing within the hip-hop subculture not only brings two cultures together but it is also used as a political statement about African-American history.
From studying the punk subculture I have learnt that my practice can be a way to ask questions about the norm and it can be a way to challenge it. I also learnt about “re-signification” (Clarke, Hall, Jefferson), how objects can be modified or used in a different way to give them a new meaning or function. I also learnt that I shouldn’t be afraid to break the mould when it comes to my practice. For example punks changed the meanings of safety pins when they used them as facial jewellery, as well as changing the meaning of the union jack when they wore it on their clothing or when it was used on posters.
I have also learnt many things from attending the keynote lectures. For example the lecture ‘Teenage Kicks’ taught me that every object has a cultural CV and a cultural biography. It also taught me how meanings can be applied to objects and how connotations of objects can change over time. I also learnt that objects have social lives and that there are stories and culture embedded in them. This has been able to inform my practice as I can now consider this idea that all objects have a cultural biography when including them in my work. Using this information I can convey information just through the use of objects and I have learnt that the context that these objects are in can also change the way that they are interpreted.
I have been able to use what I have learnt from this study group in my own practice, Illustration, as I now consider what I want to convey in my work more carefully and how I an convey it. For example, in my work from last term, The Fake News Machine, I considered the materials I used more carefully as different materials carry different connotations. I also put more consideration into the font I chose for my animation because I wanted it to convey a particular meaning of boldness and prominence. This module has allowed me to become better at communicating ideas and stories through my work which is an important part of illustration. It also encouraged me to question why I was doing certain things which in turn allowed me to explain my creative decisions at the end of the project when I had to present my work.
How I Learn
During my first term constellation module; The Body, I found it difficult to use theory to back up my arguments and statements in my first essay. I didn’t know how arguments and statements from authors and academics could be used effectively in my writing to support what I was trying to say. During this second constellation module; Smells Like Teen Spirit, I was presented with an effective way to analyse my work or others and and a way to easily include theories in my analysis to support what I was saying. This technique called ‘Cath’s Columns’ given to us by our lecturer Cath Davies was a simple yet effective way to analyse a piece of work in detail also allowing you to easily include the theory needed to support our arguments. This technique is made up of three columns, in the first column the image you are analysing is described, for example, the colours used and other details of the image and the visual motifs are identified. In the second column the connotations of these motifs are explained. In the third column quotations from books and papers are included that support the connotations that you have linked to the different aspects of the image. This system helped me immensely when analysing my work.
The university experience has developed me as an individual as it has encouraged me to question more when looking at my own and other people’s work, it has also allowed me to expand my way of thinking when considering why I have made certain design decisions within my practice. Constellation has taught me to question things which has made me more inquisitive as an Illustrator. It has also taught me to be more analytical when looking at my own work and others. I have also learnt how important theory is when it comes to my practice and how it can help me to explain my work to others.