2.0 Getting into the zones

The purpose of this research task was to encourage students to think about how they start to take more creative risks allowing their creative practice to develop through experimentation.

Key words from the brief:

  • Take an A1 (59 x 84cm) sheet of paper and draw a circle about 30cm
  • Write inside the circle a list of things you like
  • Draw two larger circles 40cm and 50cm diameter around the first circle
  • In the large circle write things you don’t like
  • Try to be as expansive as possible
  • Reflect on your current creative practice and begin to identify what new things you’d like to develop through this course


The critical review I produced as part of Responding to a brief was titled: What is the visual language of reportage and can it be learned and applied? The essay explored the visual language of reportage to identify best practice, and ended with an assessment of my own reportage practice. This was an extensive piece of work, through which I was able to identify areas for development.

One of the outcomes was the need for me to put more structure into my practice research. This resulted in a period of retrospectively reflecting on what I’d achieved in Responding to a brief and thoughts about what I wanted to get from Visual Exploration.

These reflections are written up here:

There is a lot of crossover between my critical review and refections with the questions in this exercise. When this happens I will add a cross reference rather than repeating the information here.


What do you feel comfortable doing?

  • Observational drawing
  • Mixed media experimentation
  • Reportage where there is no personal contact with the subject
  • Rapid drawing

What do you feel uncomfortable doing?

  • Reportage where there is a personal contact with the subject

What areas would you like to develop further?

  • Narrative illustration
  • Reportage
  • More effectively identifying a story before starting any work.
  • Explicitly embedding theoretical and practice research into my creative process and to gain a better understanding of how to use it effectively.
  • Gaining a better command over my figure drawing.

What thoughts do you have about your work and where it might develop?

I answered this question in some detail here: Respective – Responding to a brief. Reference the the STOP START CONTINUE information here.

Additionally I have started capturing a growing list of topics for further research/investigation. These are framed as questions.

The current unprioritsied list (or backlog of items) is:

  • How do I identify a story?
  • How do I identify and develop new themes and subjects?
  • How do I take more creative risks?
  • How do I turn this way-of-working into sustainable practice?
  • How do I draw figures more fluidly?
  • How do I incorporate research into my practice?
  • How do I become a professional illustrator?
  • How do I store and catalogue my sketchbooks?
  • How do I understand the OCA assessment criteria?
  • How do I practice figure drawing under lockdown?
  • How do I link narrative to Brookwood Cemetery?
  • How do I use oil pastels as per the Russian illustrator?
  • How do I pay attention to what I pay attention to?
  • How do I ensure that lessons learned or new areas of research identified through reflection are acted upon?
  • How do I balance the need to retain control over the desire to lose control?
  • How do I take more creative risks and build this into my practice?
  • How do I ensure that tutor feedback feeds back into my research/practice?
  • How do I use more automatic/play based processes in my work?
  • How is it possible to use this direct, rapid, automatic drawing approach in a more controlled way i.e. with predefined subjects?

Where would you like to begin?

  • Prioritise the backlog of research questions (based on value)
  • Starting with the highest value items, assess the work and effort required to do the research
  • Plan the work using the framework set out in Practice research approach

How can you develop ways of working that allows for the new to emerge?

  • Based on my understanding from 1.4 Flow and play, this requires thinking outside the box: practice research/experimentation. In fact, I would go so far as to say this is the core purpose of practice/research.
  • The way for me to develop ways of working that allows for new thinking is by following through on my approach to practice research, turning ideas into actions and recording the results.

How are you going to document and reflect on your progress?

  • This is touched on in Practice research approach and I’m still working through exactly what this will look like.
  • What I already know is that practice research is becoming a core part of my creative process.
  • This activity will be a logically structured iterative process running alongside my OCA coursework.
  • The research activity will be structured so that there is traceability between research backlog items and doing the practice research.
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