Some years ago I decided that I wanted to be an artist. As it had been many years since I had actually done any serious “Art” I enrolled on a City and Guilds Life Drawing class. It took few sessions to become comfortable with actually drawing in “public” and my initial drawings were somewhat stilted, but the others in the group were friendly and there were many different levels of expertise, plus we were lucky enough to have a really relaxed and encouraging tutor.
Charcoal and pastel drawings from City and Guilds Life Drawing Class
This class fuelled my appetite for all things Art and I followed this on with an Evening Class in A Level Art at a local college. Again, the others in the class were of mixed ability but were very friendly and again the tutor was relaxed and encouraging. I am delighted to say that I finished my A level with an A grade, which boosted my confidence no end. As a result I gave up my job and enrolled at Art School to study full time for a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design.
Sketchbook pages from A Level Art class
A year at the Art School saw my interest and enthusiasm for my subject shift into overdrive! I couldn’t get enough of art. I saw countless exhibitions at galleries in London of work by major names in the Modern Art world, and still felt in awe of what I was seeing. The Foundation year was again a fantastic time, with 90 other students, the majority of whom were young enough to be my children and a small group of lecturers who encouraged personal exploration while offering practical advice and suggestions in the use of materials to obtain a professional result. This year was a turning point and when I finished the course I obtained a place at university to study for a BA (Hons) Fine Art.
Work from the Foundation Diploma:
Top: Singer, mixed media collage; Middle: Exploding Chrysanthemum, oil on board; Bottom: Behind Dave, chalk and charcoal on paper
Ah, the University Years! I opted to undertake the course part time which meant that instead of taking 3 years to complete it would take 5! I was definitely in it for the long haul! What a contrast to the Art School the University was. Despite only offering Art and Design courses (no geographers, mathematicians or scientists here!) there seemed to be something missing. the atmosphere was not as warm and friendly as at the Art School, and while the lecturing staff were for the most part knowledgeable in their subject area, it seemed that everything was just that bit too much of an effort, and that quite honestly students were really just an irritating part of being a lecturer. The upside of the course however was the other students. Being a part time course the others were all either a similar age to me or older, and again there was a wide range of abilities and interests evident. I can quite honestly say that if it hadn’t been for the solid support network provided by my peers that I would have given up after the first year! However, I survived the full 5 years and came out the other side with an even more expanded knowledge and understanding of Art as a subject. I can confidently say what I like and don’t like and more importantly why I feel that way about a particular artist or piece of work and my preferences are eclectic and wide raging from Early Renaissance art through to Post Modernist. The only thing I am set against is the pompous ramblings and hyperbole used by some contemporary artists to justify their work.
Work from the BA (Hons) Fine Art
Top: Air, Etching; Middle: Blue Remembered Hills, Linocut; Bottom: Yellow Ferns, Linocut with Chine Colle
So, some 3 years after graduation I can officially call myself an “Artist”, after all I have loads of pieces of paper that say I am qualified don’t I! Sadly I don’t think that is really enough. I am still not producing work of a standard with which I feel comfortable to share with the wider world, and even worse I am still not completely certain exactly what my particular area of art is. Yes I can make work of a reasonable standard in various mediums, but I am not a specialist and there in lies the rub… I so very much want to be, but lack the confidence. So this is the first of a series of blog posts following my attempt to get back to basics and create the first of many pieces of work of which I can be proud to show to the world, and if I am very lucky indeed, maybe the world might even want to buy them from me!
Two recent pieces of work from the post-graduation “wilderness years”