At 10:45am on 20/10/16 I received confirmation that I could contribute “Monthly Musings” to the OCA Weekender E-Bulletin. I was excited and intimidated in equal measure. Excited because the offer made me feel validated. Intimidated because I had to write something and the pressure of the blank page took hold, exposing my apparently empty head and a correspondingly blank expression. There was paralysis by analysis because I was aware of an audience – consequently I was too self-conscious and my creativity ceased. I recognised this feeling, the newness and uncertainty of writing for the bulletin is analogous to my studies with the OCA. Paradoxically, the feeling of inability became the catalyst to this first musing and I found “a way in.”
I am at the start of Level 3 (assignment 2) and experiencing the same feelings I had with my first course, Drawing 1, in what feels like a life-time ago in 2012.
It is the same with any new beginning. My first course, my first assignment submission, my first contribution to a forum were all met with trepidation and no small anxiety. I am sure I am not alone. I feel raw and exposed and out of my depth. Every time that I find myself outside my comfort zone. But I believe that challenging yourself, being courageous enough to tackle the new, to make a beginning, extends your parameters and what was once seemingly impossible becomes attainable. This is growth. The challenges I am prepared to face now are greater and would have been staggeringly unfeasible and inappropriate if presented to my more novice student self.
Your studies are paced.
May I encourage you to get stuck in to your course work? Make your first piece evaluate it and make another because the more you make the more experienced you become. Progress is measured in pieces with each work bringing you closer to your personal goals.
My Major Project course literature included “Reviewing Your Work” activity in a section called Cosmology where you contemplate the range of influences that are “satellites” orbiting your creative practises. Like the stars in the sky, they may be taken for granted and constellations need to be studied for their “patterns” to become identifiable. Easier with practise and easier still with a synopsis of your oeuvre.
Through this process of self-analysis I became increasingly aware that I was interested in entropy- a tendency towards chaos. Once I had articulated it to myself I began to see multiple embodiments of it everywhere; from my personal health, to social and cultural issues and even communication breakdown. It has become the dark matter that holds my cosmos together.
This image, called “October News” is a study of social entropy. It is a random assemblage of bad news items collated from tabloid newspapers. The composition is chaotic and I deliberately selected the more salacious stories that bombard the reader daily. Upon reflection, I wish I had chosen the stories by drawing clippings out of a hat as this would have supported my message through an enacted pun. The aesthetics of chance is another aspect of entropy.
Reassessing my previous work also revealed a passion for portraiture and an attraction to the human face. At time of writing my tutors have been instrumental in focusing my attention, (which has a tendency to drift towards disparate interests,) towards self-portraiture. I do not wish merely to convey the topography of my own features but to get below the surface to something more significant. I am puzzling how I might achieve this. Fragmentation seems promising.
I am asking myself, “Is there a sense in which I can call this piece a self-portrait? Are the media and the message congruent? Mutually supportive?”
I suspect this getting below the surface is a metaphor for progress in our OCA studies. I find I am becoming more interested in metaphor and symbolism as I desire to leave representational art behind. I believe you will find that as you progress through the OCA, your interests will become more focused and the message you wish to convey more sophisticated, less superficial- somehow deeper and uniquely true to your own voice.
Find ways to challenge yourself and summon the courage to extend your comfort zone, slowly, incrementally, as I have done in writing this. My page isn’t blank anymore and, now I’ve started, I’m not so daunted and curiously looking forward to the next instalment.
Are you affected by any of the issues raised? Feel free to engage with this article, and my work, in the comments below.
Also published on Medium.