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In Conversation - Dan Robinson and Lara Eggleton - The Open College of the Arts
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In Conversation – Dan Robinson and Lara Eggleton

Drawing 1: Drawing Skills

In November, the Fine Art tutor team held an assessment event. Afterwards, program leader Caroline Wright invited Dan and Lara to discuss any common issues and offer some general pointers to current Fine Art level 4 students on Drawing 1: Drawing Skills. The conversation below may be helpful to any Fine Art students taking this unit.

The Fine Art team are also offering a series of online group critique forums and discussions to support students with research into practice. Details and how to get involved can be found here.

A moment in a sketchbook. Fine Art Student Lara Jobson. Fine Art: Drawing 1

Lara: What are you looking for in a Drawing 1 submission?

Dan: It’s good to see exploration of both ends of the spectrum— on the one hand really experimental and playful approaches to drawing that push and challenge materials, methods and ideas; and on the other hand careful observation of basic drawing, closely crafted attention to mark-making, tone and rendering of form and space.

Lara: How do these different approaches emerge out of the unit?

I think sometimes really playful ideas are triggered by the temporary drawing exercises; say massive drawings on a beach or using walks, video and sound or everyday domestic objects in drawing processes. Other times it’s a particular fascination with a material or subject matter that allows students to take the work beyond the brief and run with a personal enquiry. I like how this unit’s exercises supports students to make very closely crafted observations, to explore scrutiny, care and attention to detail. The exercises invite you to look really hard, to push and test materials and techniques and see where these can lead.

Lara: How important is it that students research other artists?

Dan: It’s essential. It’s great when you can see the impact that looking closely at relevant artists work has on a student’s own process. It’s also interesting to notice that sometimes these connections are made in a student’s written reflections on a log, but also they can be purely visual. A series of images in a sketchbook can tell a visual story of how a student’s own drawings are learning from or responding to another artist.

Lara: What do you like to see in sketchbooks and logs?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer, its great so see genuine engagement, and hard work and witnessing the different journeys student’s to take that always lead somewhere different. Seeing various attempts of things, sequences, rather than stopping after one go at an idea. One advantage of seeing sketchbooks over selected assignment pieces is tutors can clearly see the journey and connections. It’s quite common for a tutor to point to a moment in a sketchbook that offers something over and above what might be evidenced in a selected and mounted piece.  

Lara: Can you say more about that? What about assignment pieces?

Dan: Sometimes assignment pieces can get too rigid. There can be a danger to feel everything needs to resolved and ‘finished’ and to scale back the experimentation. This is a tricky balance – to show discernment and yet to still allow play and experiment. There is no easy answer other than practice. Learning to balance flowing and open drawing processes with editing, cutting and making touch decisions.

Lara: Are there any tips you give students?

I often advise students to work in series, to do lots of versions, and be open to exercises becoming assignment pieces, and assignment pieces becoming exercise. Once there is a good flow of experiments, and work can be left to sit between sessions, ideas emerge and ways to refine and resolve things can suggest themselves. I think this is something as artists we are always learning to do better— how to find a balance between listening to the work and following it, and how to make conscious critical decisions. Artist research is very important, and really helps to develop a critical eye. 

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Posted by author: Caroline Wright
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