Monday, 11 February 2013

Assignment 2 - Some Thoughts on Feedback

Assignment 2 took me forever. I found I had to re-read the instructions again and again.  Whenever I'd put away my work, (usually in a rush because I was on a roll but the kids where starving and we needed the kitchen table) I'd get it out again and wouldn't be able to find my drawing or sample.  Was I on Project 4, Stage 2, Exercise 3? Or was that Project 3, Stage 4, Exercise 2?  I'd grumble about why the whole course couldn't just be labelled Exercises 1-50.  Some days I would look at the confusing pile and just go away and read one of my beloved textile books, check the OCA forum discussions, strip some wallpaper for my studio-to-be or go to an exhibition instead. I felt justified because what I was doing was related to the course; I was constantly thinking textiles, producing plenty of work and learning a great deal.

However, I can't continue at this distracted rate simply because I will never complete the course, let alone achieve a degree.  My tutor has been extremely encouraging about my work and helpful with her advice.  In summary, the content of my work, my ideas, reviews and reflections are all developing well.  However, I need to organise, label and cross-reference between my sketchbooks, development work and blog to keep my work in context. 

Learning Blog

My tutor recommended looking at another student's well labelled blog. I saw straight away, just by keeping consistency in the titles of the posts, that this makes it much easier to navigate.  At the start of the course I had photographed all my work, consistently and carefully labelled all the exercises and posted them onto the 'folders' section of the OCA student website. Mistakenly, I believed that this was how tutors and assessors kept track of your work.  If I had posted them to my learning blog in this way instead with my thoughts, rather than generally reflecting on things every month or so, I'd have saved a lot of time.  Part of me thought that if my systems genuinely work for me, then that is fine.  However as the volume of my work increases, my systems are not working so well.  Not only does my tutor find it difficult to navigate (she hadn't even been able to find the research point post I'd done!), I've been struggling myself to find information when I wanted to link back to a previous thought.  I've found myself trying to remember what time of year it was when I went to a particular exhibition for example.  Then I'd have to scroll through the posts about that time to find what I wanted!

I've now added labels such as 'Assignment 3', 'OCA Study Visits', 'Galleries and Exhibitions' and 'Research Points' to my blog.  I will try to be consistent with my post titles and make shorter posts more often to correspond with each stage of a project rather than saving it all up for one long post. 


My tutor was pleased to see some more observational work which was in the Assignment 1 feedback and wants me to continue with this. Again, the main issue is labelling and organising my work.  I've been wrestling with my sketchbook formats for various reasons. I began the course with an A6 (too small) so then I chose a just-less-than-A4 sized book.  The size suited me very well as it was portable but not too small.  However, I soon discovered the recycled paper was really poor quality and the pages soon began to get damaged and fall out.  Perhaps because I'm left-handed, the ring binding annoyed me as my hand rested on it.  I wouldn't feel right working from back to front so I've abandoned that book.  

I moved onto loose sheets which work well for me as I've found I'm increasingly enjoying experimenting on and with different coloured and textured papers, depending on the subject, technique and medium.  However this has left me with a large pile of loose drawings. I bought a binding hole punch with the intention of adding these sheets into a good quality A3 sketchbook which I could also draw directly in. I wanted to make some pockets to add in for my stitched samples. Unfortunately the 'adjustable' punch with binding machine I bought wasn't adjustable enough and the holes not compatible with the sketchbook binding.  I resorted to sticking my drawings in and stitching my samples with invisible thread which seems to be working reasonably well. I like the large format to keep everything together and to see related drawings over a double spread. My problem now, as I haven't kept my loose drawings in order, is that they are out of context. I need to begin attaching and labelling everything as I go.  

(For future, I could consider compiling a book per project containing all my related research, ideas and stitched in samples. I can keep everything in order in a clear pocket display file until the end of the project then use my binding machine to make the project book.) 

Increasingly I like to experiment on and with different papers rather than directly in the book.
This leaves me free to try more techniques like folding (as in photo above top), stitching (as in the Angie Lewin inspired collage above) etc.  
Thankfully, having read through Assignment 3, it looks more straightforward.  Having kept up to date with the discussions on the textile student forums and Facebook page and meeting other students regularly, I realise the issues I've struggled with are not exclusive to me and we all have walls to break through.