So, I left Thursday with my buddy Phil to drive ten medium-to-large scale paintings up to Savannah for my 15 hr. Review (this is one of a couple “checkpoint” reviews with a committee where you present a body of work). Everything went well. No problems. We had ample time to hang and light the works as well, even if we didn’t get done until 12:30 in the morning and hadn’t ever made it to the motel before hand. Sad thing is, too, the place we had a reservation didn’t show we had a reservation and so we drove back out to the highway for no real reason (that was probably the worst of it besides my nerves). While the bed was uncomfortable and my body couldn’t settle down before my 9am presentation I was convinced that I would make it a good review.
Friday morning came and I arrived at Alexander Hall (SCAD Painting Building), going through in my head all the points that I wanted to make about the work. I was also constantly reminding myself not to cross my arms and to speak with confidence. To help distract me from going into a freak out (which I’ve never really ever experienced) I became preoccupied with moving chairs and tables out of the exhibition space. Afterwards i just continued to mentally prepare for the “dance” that was about to unfold.
Professors arrived and small conversations erupted amongst us. There are always at least one professor you’ve never had at these review’s. It was nice to connect with him because I was considering taking one of his classes over the summer and he has great insight in much of the writings that I’ve read of his concerning various technical issues in painting. There were two other professors that I’ve been more acquainted with due to the classes I’ve had with them and the help they graciously delivered to me. In the end, the review went well. It started out pretty calm, asking questions and prodding for information. Analysis on technical issues in comparison to concept and subject matter was a major part of the discourse. By the time we got into the heat of the critique part it was already half way over (I didn’t realize that I was really getting hammered on certain issues, but by the time I realized it I just put on my battle armor and went through the trenches with them, instead of becoming defensive and avoiding my faults–this really is why I was here, right?). The professor that I didn’t know seemed to be more on the attack that others(at least that’s how it seemed to me), but I just went there with him whenever he made his critiques and criticisms. It got pretty intense at times. The critiques form other professors seemed to be buffered based on their foreknowledge of the progress I’ve made and the context they see me working in. At one point, too, one of my professors actually stood up for me and said that particular criticism was too harsh and redirected it towards a teachable moment, not just for me, but for the prof who through the blow. That was really cool. But, for me, the coolest part was when all three professors just went back and for, talking, critiquing, defending and analyzing the ten paintings on the wall in that critique space. I got so much out of that thirteen minute experience! After the formal aspect of the review was over, the committee deliberated to make a pass or fail decision. I passed.
The committee gave me a rundown on the various topics they were focusing on, letting me know how I did in various categories. They also gave me come good feedback right there and then as to where they thought I needed to hone some technical things. All in all, it was a great experience. A friend of mine later asked me how it went, and I told him all I’m telling you. And then I said, “it’s not getting any easier than this.”
All the paintings got home safe and sound. It was nice to have my buddy on the road with me, someone to bounce ideas off of and reflect on the day. My brain is still swimming with information and feedback. I will get a written document of the comments and concerns in a couple weeks so that I have a jumping off point for new work. Until then I have a couple commissions to work on and some work to finish up with SCAD this quarter. One of the best pieces of feedback that I received from a trusted professor after the critique, when they were letting me know I passed, was to do a small painting a day and use a lot of paint. Someone also interjected to also play with painting knives and when finished with the painting, to scrape/wipe it out and do it again. So, I will be making a bunch of small paintings as a daily practice. I’d like to do about thirty before I leave this summer to go to Savannah for classes.
This quarter, in Painting Studio III, I was really stretching myself concerning such aspects as scale and color. I haven’t arrived by any stretch of the imagination, but I see that I have the ability to create an ambitious body of work. I do not know what I will do over the summer but I’m in Painting Studio IV (I will focus on painting) and Directed Projects (I will focus on drawing). Until then I have ten small canvases to work on. After working so large, working small is challenging, but it is nice to hone those skills (going between large and small works). I’m definitely in a good place with my progress in graduate school. I have no idea where I’m going next.