Mirror test of self awareness

Studying research and practice became easier as I did it; I became more comfortable with the language and terminology of research, and connecting research to learning, through practice and back to research again. The more I enjoyed it, the easier it became easier to focus on a particular part of research.

The reflective cycle

I have struggled with focus. I go through highs and lows with it, unable to focus or sit still followed by periods of deep hyperfocus.
It is helpful to recognise this and the triggers for getting me out of periods of procrastination. Because of this, I crave peer group interaction and I struggle when there is little activity on the forums. I have felt isolated at times; I want to talk about ideas over coffee, hear about other people’s research and ideas and talk with people who relate directly to my (and the group’s) experience. We’re embracing some big topics and pushing ourselves and I would like that sharing, especially with the diversity of disciplines and experiences within the group. I enjoy the process of learning together.

I’ve had that opportunity with my classmate Cathy, via Whatsapp, and I want to encourage others to join a class Whatsapp group.
I’ve had great tutor dialogue but it doesn’t replace the group because we are learning together; it’s a different relationship.

Distance learning is amazing and is the only way for me to study, so I will continue to look for opportunities and people locally for that extra sharing.

I got overwhelmed by research at the start, vital feedback helped me focus my research boundaries but also encouraged me/reminded me to be cautious against reliance on research into cultural issues of representation; I needed to look illustration as a discipline too.

My best moments and possibly one of my strengths was uniting research with practice, either reflectively or looking forward. I enjoyed this but also had problems with momentum when I switched forum one module to another. Despite many plans and planning exercises, I could not anticipate the different levels of progress I made with each activity. Reflection tells me I must find ways to accommodate this.

Moving forward, I see how I am developing the academic language of visual communication and, making and meaning. I am translating that across to my practice-based research and so to my practice. My significant progress has been seeing myself as someone with a voice that is relevant. Without an extensive (any) body of published work, I sometimes feel that my voice doesn’t count but this has taught me what matters is having something to say and earning how to say it – in written and visual ways. I have been seeking validation from being widely published rather from studying a subject indepth.

Also, I have new confidence in my artwork, I have confidence that if I keep drawing and reading and evaluating and drawing and so on, in that reflective cycle, I always do draw something I like, something I can develop. I think anyone reading this will understand how significant that is.

Partly that has come from case studies, partly from broader research and feeling inpsired but also from uninhibited drawing whilst reading about topics that matter to and inpsire me. This drawing stems from reading (and doing) wild swimming, reading about the human-animal binary and a case study research in to the work of author and illustrator Henrik Drescher.

I have found that mixed media is the answer to my indecisions about media and my sometimes-chaotic ways of thinking and working. It feels quite like my thoughts in pictures! I’m going to experiment with collage and explore pencil and charcoal as part of that mixed approach. I’m also excited by research that resulted in using photographs of found objects and what that means to my goals of an environmental message.

Uninhibited drawing, doodling, gave me enjoyment and confidence. For example, I was determined to illustrate as much as I could, including creating Chester Draws for my blog. Sometimes I think I draw better, I’m happier and more relaxed when I don’t try.

I am enthused by my re-ignited love of reading non-fiction and not just in art theory and history. Moving forward this can only inspire more illustration. Ultimately I want to make a book, or two, and say something that will help raise awareness of the intersectionality of rights, how that applies to animals and help end animal suffering. It’s a bold statement but everything that everyone does, if it is done with thought, kindness and warmth will contribute the overall global vegan, and rights, movement.