Advanced Practice - Assignment 1

Writing a Personal Statement

Today I have made a start on my Advanced Practice module.

Review your work

Beginning to think about my current work and what links things together.  My favourite pieces from my personal practice all have a strong link to nature and organic forms or to mental health awareness.  Whilst studying my Foundation Degree I definitely developed a 'style',  however my work is now often referred to as 'simplistic' and 'cute'.  I completed my degree 6 years ago, so most of my reflection is on the personal practice that I have continued with since then.

The thing I enjoyed the most about my degree work was having such random starting points or briefs.  I get so hung up on what the final outcome/product will be now that I don't stretch myself as much as I did then.  I am looking forward to pushing myself out of my comfort zone and of finding that more scientific aspect of my art again.  I seem to  have quite a strong science/specimen/antique feel to my degree work yet my recent personal work has been much more 'cutesy'. 

My favourite outcomes from my Illustration & Print FD

My favourite examples of personal work so far

The reason I have disregarded other pieces of my work is because I am not as proud of them or, to be honest, they just don't interest me as much anymore.  They are works that I have left behind and had fun with at the time, but don't feel the need to re-visit or develop any further.

Identify Key Words

The tools I use most often are - 
  • Ceramic clay
  • Watercolour and Acrylic Paints
  • Pencils
  • Paper
  • Sculpting tools
  • Modroc
  • Polymer clay
  • Textiles/mixed media/up-cycled/found objects
  • Photoshop

The vehicles of work that I find most interesting are
  • Books (handmade and digitally produced)
  • Sculpture (Ceramics as well as other forms of clay and plaster)
  • Mixed Media
  • Functional (I like to try and give my work a purpose)

The visual quality of my work could be described as - 
  • Organic
  • Narrative
  • Simplistic
  • Quirky
  • Handmade

The type of content that I am interested in -
  • Work that addresses and raises awareness of well-being issues
  • Illustration and storytelling (for adults or children)
  • Anything fantasy or folklore based
  • Raising awareness for the planet/nature
  • Combining mixed media art and literacy/narratives
  • Therapeutic Art

The 7 key words that seem most important - 
  • Organic
  • Narrative
  • Therapeutic
  • Mixed Media
  • Quirky
  • Simplistic
  • Raising Awareness

This list of 7 words relates quite well to my current practice and represents my style and preferred ways of working.  Whilst describing work I have already done, this could also describe work that I want to develop further and areas that I want to focus on.  I have just completed a qualification in Trauma Informed Art Therapy and I really want to try and link this to my artwork.


I am an illustrator with a focus on raising mental health awareness and promoting well-being.  I create character based narrative work in a mixed media approach; leaning towards a combination of watercolour and pencil for 2D work and a range of materials for 3D work.  

Research Possibilties


I am due to visit the Tate Modern next month with my Sixth Form class so will take advantage of this and collect my own first hand sources while I am there.
I am also visiting the London Sea Life Centre and Natural History Museum during the Easter holidays and will take this opportunity to take plenty of photographs.


Art Memberships

I am a member of Plain Arts Salisbury, The Craft Potters Association and Access Art.  Each of these has a slightly different purpose for its memberships, but all have their own communities of artists and provide opportunity to collaborate.  I shall keep an eye on the opportunities that arise and if any of them fit this course then I will link them in.

Books (that I own or will buy to use)

Making Handmade Books by Alisa Golden
Good Faeries/Bad Faeries by Brian Froud
Faerie Tales by Brian Froud
Drawing Projects for Children by Paula Briggs

Skills Audit

What software do you currently use?

I use Adobe Photoshop to edit product photos and to create and add font (my own) to my packaging designs.  I use Adobe Illustrator to live trace my hand drawn illustrations but only if I am going to digitally colour them.

How would you measure your proficiency?

I'd say I am somewhere between 'advanced beginner' and 'competent' as I learnt the basics on my Foundation Degree and have taught myself a few things since.  I know enough for the tasks I currently need to carry out.

What short-term improvements would you like to see in your software use?

I would like to be able to digitally draw.  It's not a priority for me as I do prefer traditional ways of drawing, but it is something I'd like to be able to do eventually.

What other skills do you use?

Drawing, book making, painting, sculpting and photography.

How would you like to develop these?

I want to develop my sculpting to become more organically textured.  I'd like to learn more control and skill with watercolours.  I have a photo-booth set up (just a small one) but I don't use my DSLR camera for this, I lean toward my iPhone, so I'd like to develop my photography skills and set up a better photo backdrop with better lights for a more natural look.  Lastly I want to develop some more defined narratives linking my artwork together.

What skills might you need to achieve this?

With my sculptural work, it's already slightly organic, but it tends to have a 'cutesy' style.  I want to build on the natural forms aspect and make my work more realistically nature inspired; whilst still linking it to a narrative.  I intend to do plenty of story writing to try and deepen the narrative behind my work and I will take my DSLR camera out and about to test out the different settings on it and see what effects I can come up with - help with this would be good.  I will follow some online water-colouring tutorials too.

What skills do you need to develop?

I need to work on collecting more first hand sources and growing my designs from these.  I also want to develop a 'wellness' activity book which is something I have started but have never finished it or collated the ideas together.  I need to suss out how to use Adobe InDesign to lay this book out and be able to send it to a professional printers once it is complete.

My Creative Process is......

Pretty much always starts with sketches and doodles in one of many small sketch books I have in my bags or at home.  I have so many ideas that I have to sketch them all down at quite a fast pace otherwise my brain feels too busy and overloaded.
From there they are re-produced as illustrations/paintings or in 3D form.  If I am aiming for a 3D outcome, I will also visually think about how I will approach the process - turn arounds, materials etc.

Research Point

Brian Eno (1979)

Oblique Strategies

This is an interesting set of cards.  I haven't heard of this specific creator before, but I have seen 'prompt' cards to help students who are struggling to think outside of the box or to question their own work.

These could be really good fun to try with some of my work.  I like the idea of putting them all face down and randomly selecting one to challenge yourself.

Stefan Sagmeister (2008)

Things I have seen in my life so far

Another interesting research point.  The TED talk explains what his book is about and how he has turned the 'thing he has learnt' in to installation art, which in turn is featured in many publications and newspapers.  It is the kind of art that will make you stop and stare and is fun to walk past, but I don't think I am a natural installation artist.  Maybe in the future it is something I might consider, to raise awareness for mental health, but for now I will focus on smaller artworks.

Creatively exploring your process

I chose this lovely old Russian postcard as my starting point for this activity.

I had a play around with adding 'Time, Movement and Sound'.  I tried to show the movement of the water in the pond as the bear tries to catch a fish and the buzzing of the mosquito.  I also changed the sun to a moon to alter the time of day that this would be taking place; using pastels to shine some moonlight on to the water.  This was my favourite outcome of this part of the activity...

If I am honest though, I did not enjoy this activity as I like to be more original with my work rather than choosing someone else's work as a starting point.  That is why I altered the other inhabitants of the pond to make them feel a little more mine.

The other outcome I quite liked was this one.

I decided to try a 'Role Reversal' effect.  So in this scenario, we are in the bears natural habitat (the previous pond is where you would find the fish) and the bear is now the victim of attack.  I had to give the fish some 'walking' fins otherwise it would not work in a forest.  I chose to have the rising sun to show a different time of day to the previous illustration.

I didn't really enjoy this task and I would say it's some of my weaker work as I don't enjoy using someone else's work to begin with and I find that when I am not enjoying a task it never ends up being my best work.

I liked the aspect of this activity that challenged me to approach the illustration in a different way.  I didn't like all of the suggestions as I found them a little unimaginative, but the ones I selected and then choosing my own, helped me to re-create the image in a creative way and a way that I might not have looked at without prompts.
I think in future I would make my own and maybe have a set of prompt cards with words or concepts on them that I could randomly select from.  I do like the idea of a challenge to mix it up and push me out of my comfort zone.  I just wasn't overly keen on the prompts provided.

I would use things like these:

Change the time of day
Altered reality
Surreal it
Reverse the roles
Add musical movements
Assembled parts

To summarise what I have learnt about myself so far; I think that I am quite creative and already a little 'out of the box' but that I do enjoy an extra challenge and something that pushes me further.  So the prompts idea is something I will try and adopt.  I do visual research naturally as I am inspired by things around me, external influences and other artwork that I see (Instagram is my favourite at the moment as it is a really visual place to browse and gather idea sources) and I integrate this within my sketchbook processes and on in to my final outcomes.  However I am predominately inspired by nature and organic textures and therefore prefer to work from original starting points or from verbal ideas/prompts rather than from existing artwork.

What's Next?

After taking the time to reflect on both my previous degree work and my personal practice, I have explored my current ways of working and the skills I want to develop and improve.  I would like to have some clear goals for this course that will enhance my personal work and take me to the next level of my career.  I also want to loosen up again.  I am always thinking about the end product when I work now due to the nature of my art and I get nostalgic when I teach my students (I teach years 7 through to A-level) at how free they are.  I even encourage them to loosen up and experiment more, and provide them with workshops and activities to achieve this.  Yet it is something I rarely do in my own practice.  I need to gain some of this back.

2D illustration wise I would like to work on the concept of a 'Well-being' book.  An activity book.  I have started this over the past few years and have a mixed bag of designs/ideas/activities to work with.  It is far from finished and it needs to be collated in to a thoughtful order.  This is something I really want to focus on completing.  This would be my 'big' outcome as it will take some time to put it all together.

This will also encourage me to learn a new software as I want to understand how to use Adobe InDesign to lay the book out ready to get it professionally printed.  I currently make my small books and zines by hand, but for this bigger book I would like to have it printed.

Where my 3D work is concerned I want to focus on collecting and exploring natural forms (working on Photography skills and observational drawings) and create more realistic textures and designs with my ceramic and sculptural work.  I still want to link a narrative to this, so I will develop my story writing and poetry skills along the way.

I also want to explore the idea of making my branding more generic.  I take so much time over each different product/line I create and each ends up with it's own, very tailored branding and packaging, but this means a LOT of time and money goes in to each one and I have a tendency for getting bored quite quickly of a design and moving on.  I have a long line of designs that I have discontinued and therefore all the branding is now obsolete.  Therefore I want to take this time to create a generic brand/packaging design that can be used across all of my products no matter what they might be.  It would only be for the packaging labels and stickers but would link to business cards etc to tie it all in nicely together.  I want a clear, identifiable identity.

Finally, I would like to create a Professional Portfolio using InDesign to lay out photos and scans of my artwork and then add descriptions/dates/material information on the opposite page.  This could then be printed in a 'coffee table book' style and is something I could display at shows and as my portfolio at the end of this course.