This project has taken a long time. It's covered both terms of my third and final year, which means I've been doing the same project for nearly 40 weeks. It's gotten slow now towards the end (I can't lie) but I think that this final push (BA7 and BA8) has been the most productive project I've ever done in my three years at NUA. It's been a bumpy ride of self-discovery, and for years before the third year I always wondered what that used to mean. I know now, and I am more aware of what I can do, what I can accomplish, and I always get pleasantly surprised at what I can produce when I set my mind to it.
When I started 'Inferno' last year, it was kind of like a revelation as I stumbled across the poem, it's story and awesome characters on Wikipedia. I knew this was a project that I could sink my teeth in to, because it had all the themes I was really interested in (religion, the occult, plenty of room for symbology, a vast array of sources for inspiration and many ways I could re-tell this epic poem) and unfortunately that also meant that I set unreasonably high targets for myself at the start. I was really pleased with the 81% grade I got for BA7, so I assumed that I could go all out and produce tonnes of characters and loads of environmental pieces. I really don't know what happened, but after starting back after Christmas (with the intention of going all out for BA8) I got scared of my project and it began to look very daunting. I got 'Ostrich Syndrome' and buried my head in the sand, began looking for excuses to almost 'productively procrastinate', so I was drawing (but it wasn't related to what I should be doing). Baby steps were in order, and slowly but surely it took me pretty much until Easter to sort out what I was doing and actually make things for my document.
Because of the extreme guilt and anxiety I put myself through (for not doing work, when actually what I was producing was okay) I ended up enrolling in counselling sessions at the Norwich Centre for 8 weeks, which should tide me over until hand-in. Unfortunately the sessions only aided as a catalyst in that rapid journey of self-discovery, and at the beginning they only made me more depressed. About four weeks ago I decided to start a course of medications to ease my depression and anxiety, and oh boy - I wish I'd started these a long time ago. Where I was having panic attacks and leaving the room when my peer's work was 'better' than mine, adrenaline rushes and no appetite if I'd forgotten to do something as menial as the washing up or ironing, complete black and white emotions - I only now have various shades of grey, there is no bipolarity any more, and I feel a lot more in control than I ever was before.
These last few weeks have been fantastic in regards to work, I've been really productive, not beaten myself up if I've had a night off, and the hate I had for the artwork I produced when it got to that stage of 'meticulously detailing and over-rendering' things over Easter has completely subsided. Most of the insecurity about my project and my artwork has gone, and I refuse to let this evaluation be a negative self-criticism and list of things I'm disappointed in.
Sure there are going to be things I would have done better - such as recording my thoughts, ideas, successes and failures a bit better (reflective journal), and I wish I'd drawn more in my sketchbook because it was such an effective outlet during BA6 and BA7. I do wish I'd 'let myself go' in my paintings, and expressed myself a bit more, and stayed true to my more painterly style. I do wish I'd done more work on my environments, even though it was an alien subject to me. All of these things felt like a very hard thing to do (possibly due to my mood, fear of the end, self-punishment, I'm not sure) but I know now that the work I did produce is pretty good and very consistent with the theme that I set out to achieve in BA7. The informed decisions I decided to make (such as cutting out the environments portion of my art book) have only benefitted my project, and I only feel slightly guilty that I have not managed to follow through with them.
It's taken my three years to find out about myself, to know that what I can do is special, to know that I can draw well, and that it is okay to not have the same skill set as someone else, (even though what they have is desirable to me) - because someone else will see that about my own work. If there's one thing that's remained over these three years, and even more so in these last few months - I still know that I need to do something creative. I have developed a style, I have developed taste, I have developed as much as an artist as I have a person. I now can present my work in a way that looks professional, I have a great understanding of design software and I have experimented and worked out methods that allow me to produce a great image with speed and creativity. I am now a lot more confident in marketing myself as an employable person, I have a great portfolio and a piece of work that I can show to any prospective employers or higher education establishments.
BA8 has been the biggest push for me as a person and an artist. But I think that the biggest achievement BA8 has given me the tools to now take myself forward with my head held high, full of confidence, and the ability to speak with pride and confidence about my art work, which is something I really struggled to do until now. I am so proud to have been part of NUA for three years, and it been the biggest step in my journey. I will miss this.