Art is hard. It takes time, energy, materials, printer ink...and yet it is by far the most rewarding subject to take at school. To be able to create projects, develop concepts, and even (sort of) have your art displayed in an exhibition is one of the best paybacks you can get for everything that you put in. You can physically see all of your hard work and effort, and to me seeing finished pieces means much more than just grades written on a sheet of paper.
I have definitely not felt this way about art for the whole of the two years I have been studying it. My first project saw me too scared to attempt anything other than a few faint pencil drawings; my paints watered down so much they made my canvas wrinkle and sag. The second was not much better...I worked sporadically on random concepts, producing half-finished pieces that had the potential to make sense, but with so little preparation work, just didn't. I was lost in a world of refining and developing that I didn't understand, and felt I wasn't able to participate in as I wasn't as skilled as my peers. I began my third project tentatively, not wanting to make the same mistakes as before, and corner myself within a difficult theme or idea. It was a good idea to be careful, however I was so careful that I did next to nothing and cried to my art teacher the day before the exam as I had no idea what I was supposed to spend the five hours doing.
At that point I decided I was never, ever getting myself in that position again. Art does not have to be about technique or skill - at least, not other people's techniques or skills. A project should explore your interests, your skills, your ideas. You should be able to showcase the aspects of art you like best, and are most confident in - not what everyone else is doing, or what you think you should do because it seems 'arty'. With this in mind, I finished my third project with a sudden boost of optimism and creativity, and used my experiences and love of textiles to produce collage/tapestry patchwork wall-hangings based on works by Tracey Emin and Grayson Perry. For the first time, I was actually producing work, and at the pace I should have been the whole time.
This time, my fourth project, I have tried my utmost to maintain the pace of my third project, and I feel as though finally I have found the way I work best. I managed to twist the theme 'Order and Disorder' into a concept that appeals to me, and have spent the past weeks working on pieces that I actually like, and enjoyed making. My art exam (which began today - I have five more hours tomorrow) was the first real exam for me, and the first I have ever been so prepared for. For the first time, I found myself actually enjoying creating artwork again, and it was great. I may not be working on the next Mona Lisa (I'm making textile Moths, inspired by one of my favourite artists at the moment Mister Finch) I like what I'm doing, I know how to do it, and no one else is doing anything similar...so I don't have the need to worry about my work looking better or worse than anyone else's. Basically, art can be really great, you just need to find your own style (and not worry about not being that good - I'm planning to take it for A-Level and I'm definitely not the naturally arty type).
I wore this outfit on Saturday, to go grocery shopping (I never actually say groceries but 'stuff' or 'food' doesn't look as nice written down). The shirt is from Pop Boutique in Covent Garden, the skirt from a market in Oxford, coat from River Island, tights from H&M, socks from Topshop, and shoes from Rokit. I bought the bag for £3 from Clobber in Bournemouth, and the glasses for £5 in Camden (although I had my prescription put in at Hoxton Market).
I can't quite believe how quickly the year is going. My exams are starting, revision is becoming increasingly more important (and more desperate) and summer seems like the near future instead of a far-away dream. I am more excited than I ever have been - ten weeks of complete freedom; no work, no stress, nothing to do except hang out with friends, eat ice cream and fruit (I am obsessed with fruit and it tastes even better in summer) and explore all the places I won't have time to explore once college begins in the Autumn. I have booked tickets to go to Reading festival (school tradition) and can't wait to just have time to be spontaneous again, and not have to stick to plans and schedules all the time (side note - I have never grasped whether schedule is supposed to be pronounced sKedule, or SHEDule?).
On yet another topic, I recently moved into the little spare room in our house and made it into a workspace, as my art materials and notes are currently taking up the entire living room. It is at the top of the stairs and has two big windows looking out over our and our neighbour's gardens, giving it absolutely perfect natural light almost all day. It's quite un-decorated at the moment as I'm focusing on work, but I love the little yellow-y aesthetic it's taken on already.