Following on from the questions that were raised about contextual study in my last blog, I’d like to take the opportunity to share the work of my new mixed media student, Jereme Crow, who is in the middle of his level 2 studies.
Jereme’s studentship is exemplary, in particular his attitude to contextual studies which he seems to positively revel in. The OCA courses ask for about 10 – 15 hours a week work. I know students work at different paces, so it can be hard to judge how much work students are actually doing and of course at this level it is up to the student themselves to manage their own workload. One look at Jereme’s blog for the first few weeks of this course and you cannot fail to see that Jereme has made a serious commitment to his studies and is working his socks off.
I also worked with Jereme for the last assignment of his previous course. In that, he explored abstract expressionism with the same exhaustive enthusiasm and rigour. He began the assignment submission with this drawing of a ball of elastic bands, thus proving that he had acquired the necessary core observational skills. He then went on to systematically explore and re-work an image of a seaside scene through the lens of abstract expressionism so thoroughly that I could clearly follow his development from wee sketch, to finished painting. On a kind of rollercoaster of the momentum of his own ideas he managed to pull in most of the major players of abstract expressionism with a few other odds and sods getting sucked into the vortex along the way, resulting in a very personal and creatively fertile process which you can see in his blog for that course.
One of the excellent things about working with adult learners is that they have all kinds of skills and experience which I can learn from as I am trying to help them learn. Students like Jereme, and Patricia Farrar and others have an effectiveness and level of self motivation I admire hugely, whilst my own working patterns are rather more haphazard. I consider myself a full time artist, which after two days teaching time deducted, leaves me three five hour days in the studio without childcare issues. That means that if I worked full time flat out from when my toe touched the studio floor I would be working at the same level expected of my students. This puts me in mind of something Cy Twombly once said: “When I work, I work very fast, but preparing to work can take any length of time.” Last time I spoke about this, Patricia replied to say that ideas are what motivates her, and I certainly find that work brings its own momentum and energy grows with a project. This can be the opposite for students who for whatever reason are putting less time in, they don’t neccesarily get to feel that push from the work which makes it harder to continue.
I hope that seeing Jereme’s fun filled, exuberant submissions will encourage others to have the confidence and the self belief to jump in and have a go – you will learn much more that way and hopefully enjoy the process along the way.