Questionnaire: Reflecting on theory and practice

Unit M1:1 Visual Enquiry and Research Methods

Questionnaire: Reflecting on theory and practice

Generating and selecting ideas
How do you go about selecting and developing your initial images/ideas? I collect lots of things from the streets, or bits and pieces that I find and use them to create a “project” to work on. If I am working on the Abstract Heads series, I choose people based on my interest in them as people, or their proximity (eg. students in a class)

What criteria do you use to select or reject them? for AH, I tend to only be able to create a sketch that works if I have some real interest in the person. Where I have just tried to draw someone, I am never happy with the result. For other projects, I just try an idea and see where it goes.

Are your ideas usually substantial enough to sustain a piece of work? If not how do you modify them? to sustain a project, yes. some projects could work, but I loose interest in them and don´t take them to any logical conclusion. Those projects where I explore an idea, even as cursorily as looking at some images on the internet, tend to work as a project, though they may not be what I consider “works”.

What do you do when you get stuck? I stop. This is often true where I have tried to “intellectualise” my art but doing some “clever” project or going down some “exploratory” avenue that I am not necessarily comfortable with. In the AH series, I tried using some colour theory to develop a few works, but they did not succeed for me.

Are there ideas you would like to explore but don’t know how to start? I am stuck on the “language of shapes” for my Mies works.

Contextual research
What are your influences? The materials might be; or an intellectual art problem that I perceive to be interesting. I like architecture, and feel that there will always be an architectural basis to my work, either literally or metaphorically.

How does your work draw on these? I collected all the tissue paper decorations from my wedding in the States, and brought it all back to use in my art, though at the time I had no idea where this would lead. I wanted to play with concrete, so I started looking for what to do with that as a sculptor. Whiteread showed me the way. My AHs are linear. My Mies series had both the wall from the Mies Pavilion, and another building in the background.

How do you choose the resources to research and to support your work, where do you find them? I love looking at gallery catalogues of other artists´ work. Beyond that I tend to use the internet.

How do you position your practice in a contemporary context? I want to make familiar, timeless art. Art that everyone recognises, but which is unique. Stealing without taking.
What difficulties do you having in accessing resources? Erm... none?

What is your framework for making judgments about the work of others? Love and Hate. Perhaps a story that the artist has to tell. Maybe the socio-economic story that places an object in an historical period.

How can you tell if images or objects, yours and others are successful or not? I love them. Or they make me have some other reaction besides “really?” I'm definitely a "room-full of..." kind of guy. I love to see a whole series of an artist's work at the same time. Then I can get a fell for the whole thing, and start to unpick the details. I always worries me seeing individual works, particularly when they are thrown together with other artists where the curating is poor. Obviously a work will hang in a home as an individual piece ( I would worry about the psychotic state of someone who hung a whole gallery of one artist's works) but that sense of wholeness, of belonging to a group, a club, a sect, is important to me.

I've realised this is far away from looking at an individual work, and deciding if it is successful. But maybe it is the truth that one image cannot let the whole world in. But that essence of the image, being part of the group, is important to me.

How do you compare your work in relation to the work of others? I´m not sure that I do. I prefer other people to judge my work.

What is successful and not successful about your current work? Nothing and everything. Lack of focus; lack of the X factor.

Materials and techniques etc.
How do you decide whether a material or technique is appropriate or not? I play with it and see what happens.
What limits your choice of materials and or techniques? Money, knowledge and skill.
Are there any materials or techniques you would like to explore? Gouache and charcoal. Large scale acrylic sheeting. Printing / wood block.

Communication and intention
What messages do you intend your work to convey? How do you do that? That the whole world is here, in this work. By finishing it.
What is the intention of your work? How is that manifest in the work? To let the whole world in. To make my audience move, physically. By creating triptychs and sculptures. By creating pairs of paintings to be hung in different rooms.
Who is the audience for your work? Often, the sitter for the work. Or people who go to the type of galleries I can hang my work in. Me.
Who will critique your work? Me. My wife. My public.
What might their criticism be? "I hate it." "I love it." "How much is it?"

Critical thinking
What have been the most and least valuable resources so far? Sitters, canvas and acrylic paint. The answer to a question like: “What does an Abstract Head look like?
What changes has your research made to your work? I am aware that I need to do more research to make more changes.
Have there been any been any negative effects of your contextual research? I haven´t done enough contextual research to have any real effect.
What specific influences and ideas have made the most positive impact on your work? Doing my life drawing and portraiture course... making me think about my art in terms of answering a question.