'The place where inspiration hits the page running... A sketchbook to fail and reflect on my work and my process'

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Looking back and realisations...

It's been a weird old month or two...and I won't be at all offended if you can only read the first line before falling asleep as this may only be interesting to one or none!.... I've come out the other end of the MA and gone through a host of emotions from complete excitement and over enthusiastic antics, to slighting depressed and hopeless feelings of doubt. I've been looking back over what I've achieved in 2 years and feel proud but unsure if I can actually make it in the real world with the practice I have nurtured. The real world almost feels too fast and harsh for the work I want to continue with (the bears in erased landscapes etc). I have been trying to put the small amount I have, out there on blogs and in competitions and exhibitions etc and although it is getting some response it's not earning me any pennies and I'm not sure I want it to be out there yet or earning for the sake of paying my rent or bills etc?? I don't want this work to become a work horse like my mainstream work. I want it to mean more to me, and to an audience. I want people to really love it enough to save up for it. Not buy it because it has 20% off or fits their budget or colour scheme. If I love something enough I will find a budget. Having done over a decade of working hard, for work that isn't mine, I feel it is time to really take care of the work I create, for my sake.

For the final few months of the course and leading up the the show I was so driven to get everything right and working hard to achieve the best results, that I didn't realise that once the show was down and we were free to live in the real world again, that I would still have a huge amount of energy, and nowhere to aim it. So I made places like blogs, listings, exhibitions, competitions etc etc. I couldn't stop! Trying to connect to people and places that didn't want to be connected to. So I've stopped and taken some time off, taken a step back and I'm beginning to realise who I am again without the MA, and that need to make a living or to be connected or be successful. I have to have faith that in time it will happen, and give it the space it deserves. I have crafted my practice over the last year into something that can span a lifetime so I have to relax and enjoy watching it grow. To admit to myself that the commercial work is a must and in time it will be less about the client and more about me, but only with patience.

I have learnt a lot about patience this year and although it is so frustrating to wait for things you desire and want so badly, sometimes the journey is the most important and enjoyable part of the process. Desire is a powerful and debilitating energy that I am realising overpowers the natural spin of the world.

I have also learnt a lot about myself and the way I learn and take in the world around me and how I react to it. Finding out I had Dyslexia after the first essay was huge. Not because I thought I now had a disability, but the fact that I had gone through 16 years of continual education thinking I was Miss Average at everything apart from drawing, especially as I loved writing and could spell. So it was with help from the Dyslexia team that I received information about the way that Dyslexia affects me, and different people and finally putting reasons to why I had failed this, or found this difficult, etc etc in the past, and why I thought I was never as good as everyone else in my group, class etc. Which is something that I still do today, constantly comparing myself to others, and harshly so.

 I have always been passionate about creating art but never thought of myself as an artist. I knew I had a higher level of artistic skill than some of my fellow pupils at school, and I guess this is why I'm an illustrator, but I could never place this in a context. The only context I knew was to sell it as pretty pictures to grace the walls of a lounge, a bedroom etc. I have never felt intelligent enough to be driven by theory or to be able to express the reason for the work I do, so it was always the easiest route to do work that looked nice but had no real meaning. On the MA I found my meaning and a certain level of theory that worked for me. I have learnt why I create, and that the work I do now is a reflection of who I am as a person more than ever. Enabling me to talk more honestly and directly about the development I have experienced in a more concise and hopefully poetic way.
The marks I received for the first projects on the course reflected the lack of knowledge I had about myself and the world I had stepped into. I had to learn a way of taking in information, holding it there, and then learning a way to relay that in written form in an academic, and previously alien, way to me. I feel like I have scraped my insides out and replaced them in a way that works for me, finally! So having received passes at first and slowly, as my knowledge and learning grew, I understood more and more about my own ways and only then, it began to make sense and I was making sense. 
My marks got better and better until my final essay and my final unit, gathering a 2:1 for the final essay, and a distinction for the final years work. I got the distinction I had so desired! I received a 2:1 overall which I am really proud of because of the ragged and misunderstood start I had. So finally I had a level of learning that equated the amount of work I had put in. It felt amazing and now I know that I can work around the ways that have confused and muddled me in the past. I can continue forward with insight and focus.

Without the Dyslexia test I'm not sure the picture would be the same? Even when I was diagnosed I thought I was still borderline and didn't quite understand the extent of how it had disabled me. Now I realise how much it has clouded my academic intelligence through school and college, and how much easier and enjoyable life will be knowing that I am intelligent enough to write essays that have a message or discourse, and with a little extra work I can achieve as much as the next illustrator.

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