Linda Cassidy – from OCA foundations to UCA BA

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Congratulations to our Open College of the Arts (OCA), Foundations Drawing student Linda Cassidy, whom is about to embark on the University of the Creative Arts (UCA), at Farnham, BA (Hons) Fine Art undergraduate programme.  

Linda was interviewed, about her experience on the Foundations Drawing unit, by Cheryl Huntbach, Unit Leader, tutor and assessor.

What experience of drawing and studying did you have, prior to the OCA Foundations Drawing?  

I had previously, always dabbled with drawing, but never got further than trying to ‘copy’ objects and people around me.

What contributed to your decision to choose the OCA and the Foundations Drawing?

I wanted to see if I could take my drawing, to something more than just making a ‘realistic’ image. I think I just Googled distance learning art courses and it came up with these suggestions.

What aspirations did you have at the start of the course?

I did the taster that is available before you sign up; the warm up exercises – drawing on a big sheet of paper with charcoal.  It was wonderfully liberating! 

I knew I was going to enjoy the course, and I knew that it was going to be a creative journey.  I had a feeling that, I would end up somewhere, completely different to where I’d started, but I had know idea where.

How long did it take you to work on, and complete, each individual assignment and complete the course?

It took a year in total, which included five assignments.  I’d planned on doing one, about every two months, though some took a little longer, and others were quicker.  

I felt that it was important to thoroughly enjoy, and appreciate the process and engage with the journey.

Which elements of the course did you find especially engaging, interesting and / or challenging?  

Oh my goodness, they were all engaging and interesting!  

For me the most challenging was the man made form, and basic perspective. 

I had to think really hard, to try, explore, and work out how to get those cupboards and contents to look like they had some form.

What particularly helped you in your studies, you may have a few responses?

I think the research, reflection and the learning journal was really important for me. Really thinking about the work I’d done, what I’d enjoyed and why, what I had got ‘wrong’ and why – lots of why-s!  

Reading through and responding to my tutor feedback, and then following up on her comments, suggestions of artists to look at and books to read, was really helpful. 

Was there anything particularly that you found surprising, or you didn’t expect to learn or find out (about drawing, yourself or your potential)?

I was really surprised at how the course extracted my potential, and I managed to do far more than I ever imagined!

I was also surprised to learn, that there are so many different types of drawing methods, and equally, a variety of reasons for drawing.

If someone were about to sign up for the course, do you have any advice, recommendations or words of wisdom for them?

Enjoy it above all else!  

Allow yourself to explore, experiment and don’t ever think that a drawing has to be ‘right’. 

Was there any particular guidance, advice, or feedback that was especially helpful in developing your drawing skills, self-confidence,  risk taking and realising your potential?

You want to be producing something that’s interesting. Keep going back to the idea of experimental mark making, and keep drawing regularly. 

The exploration and experimentation with mark making qualities, I found built up my confidence.  Inevitably something got produced, that was a step on, from what I would have thought to do, if left to my own devices.  

The realisation that often, the most interesting drawings, images and ideas are the ones where creative risks have been taken. 

I think realising my potential thus far, is a combination of the things mentioned in this list.  Just to keep on experimenting, and asking questions of your self, what and how you are drawing, and reading.

Is there anything that you might have done differently, more of (or less of)?  What did you expect to learn (and did you?) and what did you not expect to learn, but did?

I think I would have tried to be less worried about making mistakes. I don’t know what I expected, as I had a fairly open mind, and I have learnt so much. I can’t think of anything I expected to learn but didn’t. 

I’m really glad, that it wasn’t the sort of course that is overly prescribed. It felt to me like you are encouraged to go in the direction, which you feel is right for you.

What are you taking from your experience on the course, into your undergraduate studies?  This might be skills, personal qualities or something else that you recognise you have developed whilst on the course.

Everything that I have written here! 

I will keep reminding myself to keep exploring, experimenting and continue having fun. This may at times be difficult, as I can have a tendency to want to do things ‘right’ – but then what is ‘right’?

How and in what ways did the course or OCA resources help you apply for, or prepare for your: i) UCAS application, portfolio and interview?

My tutor wrote a very wonderful reference for me, and we had a Google Hangout, where she advised me on my portfolio content, and some preparation for the interview process. 

There were a few videos on You Tube from the UCA resources, and these explained the interview process, though in the end, it wasn’t at all what I expected. The UCA were very good on the phone, in answering my queries about the presentation of my portfolio and anything else.

There was a session at the UCA Open Day which explained about sketchbook presentation. It was really, was very helpful to check with the requirements and information at the UCA. I highly recommend people go to any Open Days on offer, and speak to current students, as well course tutors and other staff, you do get a very good feel for a place, and their resources by visiting.

What aspirations do you have now you have successfully completed the course?  Where and how do you see yourself progressing?

Well for now, I just want to complete the degree course! 

I would love to think that it would lead on to something more… but I am just interested to see even where my art is in a year’s time. I saw the Year 1, End of Year Show, at UCA and they had all finished the year, doing very different things to what they had imagined. So it’s a bit like the beginning of the Foundations Drawing course all over again, embracing another journey, and yet another adventure!

View OCA’s suite of foundation courses here.

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