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Tuesday, 24 November 2015

R&D - Being Reflective - Seminar 3 (A Seminar with Dr Alison Rowley).

In our third seminar, with Dr Alison Rowley we explored the ideas around "being reflective"...

We started with three basic questions;

  1. How can we be reflective?
  2. How can we measure our reflections and what we do?
  3. How can we see the results of what we learn through reflection?

1) Reflection, is about putting things in context with the development of our own art and most importantly, to log the results.
We do this through a variety of means;

  • through online blogging for instance, which should be a dialogue with our drawing upon our reflections each day
  • through musing, which is kind of the same by describing, reflecting and reviewing:
  • we are developing research and importantly The Process. This is about setting up experiments at the beginning of the week in our mind, going through with those experiments and executing them, in order to test their validity;
  • by using notes through photographs as well as text to catch this development; and finally by using our sketchbook and physical notebooks.

We should not overlook the importance of having conversations with other people within the studio during the day-to-day working practice. There is nothing wrong, so long as the other people are happy, to make tape recordings of these conversations and then to use the blog perhaps to record the details of them.
And finally with regards to reflection, it's important to reflect on the previous week in order to summarise successes and failures in order to set up the experiments for the next week before carrying them out and executing them to test.

2) how do we measure our work?
This is a very subjective area of reflection.

  • We need to ask ourselves why something is successful. I.e., what is it that we measuring success against? It is the measure against your research in context and historically which shows where your own work sits within the genre of contemporary art. We have to compare our own work with that of others. We can only do this through research and show who may have influenced or inspired us to make what we make. 
  • Pieces of work from other artists must capture our attention in order for us to be influenced by it to make something, however it is often the case that we may not actually recognise a subliminal influence. These subliminal influences are much harder to categorise and write about, but we must be mindful that they exist.
  • We also measure our work through an assessment of our own moods and emotions. But also through all the other components of construction such as selection and choice of materials, the narrative that goes with the work, our original intents and ideas and what is influenced them should all be considered. 
It is these that we measure ourselves against.

3) how do we show what we have learned?

  • This reflection of learning, i.e. by placing a particular painting or image onto our blog sites, should demonstrate how our research and development has had an effect on our learning.
  • However we should always consider the theory that "to love your own work, stops you from making it better".


  • We all have a fear of failure, we are prone to procrastination, rumination and obsessive overthinking. These are the enemy to creativity, especially if you allow them to be your master.
  •  I have quoted Rudyard Kipling and the poem "if" before;  in the 2nd paragraph of his poem he says;
"if you can dream and not make dreams your master;
if you can think, -and not make thoughts your aim;
if you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same;
  .....these are very pertinent words written over 100 years ago,
  • the answer is to just keep going, keep making which leads to more exploration. 
  • Going down dead ends are actually a good thing! 
  • Without doing anything you will never know. Without exploring dead ends you'll not exploring.

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