It started with a word! While talking with a friend on a weekly call, she suggested choosing a word to focus on for the next year. I had never really heard of this idea, but gather it is quite a thing to do! The word I chose is CREATIVITY. The reason is, that being creative is something I really enjoy, but it has been low on my list of priorities for several years; actually, since my business of designing and making animal hats ended several years ago!
So, where do I start? Some of my interests outside of work, are; photography, poetry and painting (art). I take a lot of photographs, and now and again I get a good shot. I have written rhyming poems at various times throughout my life. My question was; ‘Do I concentrate on one art form and focus my energies or try to merge these together?’. I decided that I would like to link all three; I like synergy. Would I use any aspects of my work as an academic writing coach? This is where the idea of a reflective journal came in (Southampton University, 2018). More on this later!
My thoughts quickly turned to how I would do this, rather than give the ideas time to grow! I wondered what would come first; the photo, the paining or the poem? Did it matter? I decided it didn’t; one could inform the other. I started to develop a mind-map (Buzan, 2006). In my mind was the development of some sort of book; I suppose as a repository for my work and something I could share with others. So, with little thought, I turned to what the structure might be. As I saw my project developing over the year, I thought I might use the alphabet; An Alphabet of Art. This seemed like a great idea, as I could do each ‘art page’ over a two-week period and I had the focus of a letter for each section. So, with my usual curiosity, I looked up ‘Alphabet of Art’ and found that this was very popular and had already been produced by many people.
Micklethwaite (1992) chose a collection of paintings for her book: “An alphabet book with a different fine-art painting for each letter. Each painting also depicts an object beginning with the appropriate letter, for the reader to identify”. The Lotte Inch Gallery (2018) in York even states “For centuries, artists have been using the simple alphabet and the familiar ABC book as inspiration for their work”. There are many lovely books and posters available using this format. I wanted my idea to be original, even though the art would be, I decided to navigate away from this.
So, what could the structure be? As it felt like a journey for the year, I decided on ‘A Year in Art’. This has been done as well, with a book by Prestel (2016); “Celebrating the extraordinary popularity of the Year in Art series, this book presents masterpieces of art from the ancient world to the modern day” . There are also activity books for creating your own work (Weidemann et al., 2015), alongside the world’s great masterpieces. However, these books are for 365 days of the year. There are of course, photography magazines which show-case work month by month, for example, Ang (2016).
Another reason I decided on this ‘monthly’, January to December structure, was the feasibility of producing one ‘page’ of art each month, which seemed more realistic than every two weeks. SMART goals came to mind! (Doran et al.,1981). This is something I have used with learners over the years. So, the ‘Specific’ still needed some work. This will be discussed in the next section. The ‘Measurable’ would be a page of art, combining a photo(s), a painting/mixed media and a poem to be produced each month So, over a year (Time-based), I would have 12 pages of ‘art work’. Would this be Achievable and Realistic? – a good question. This would depend on my motivation, skills and knowledge. At this moment in time, I feel that this is achievable, though it would take a lot of learning.
So, what else would I need to think about in order to move the idea forward? This felt like a big challenge, so I broke this down into smaller steps. I have always been keen on using Kipling’s (1900) ‘I Keep Six Honest Serving Men” from The Elephant’s Child; What, Where, When, How, Where and Who? The What? would be whatever comes to mind, based on the month in question. So, this would be where my imagination, inspiration and ‘research’ skills are used to develop the photo, painting and poem based on each month of the year. The Where? and When? would be about taking the opportunities wherever I am. Because I want to produce a ‘page of art’ a month, I will definitely need to set-aside some time and space for this. At the moment, I don’t know how long this will take; at least 2 days per month I think. The How? is going to be the most challenging. Taking the photos require knowledge and skill. The poem may be a challenge, but I intend to keep this short and simple. The ‘painting’ may be an actual painting or ‘artwork’ made by me – the Who?. I intend to put this together in an Art Journal/book, possibly for an audience.
The other aspect of this project is the commentary I want to write, which I had not thought doing about until now. In my work, I coach others in their writing and I proofread their work. Except for a couple of academic papers, it is a long time since I did any writing of my own (Wood, 2009). I know from experience, that structure is important. It seemed appropriate to use a particular approach to reflective writing (University of Southampton, 2018). This structure appealed to me as it requires a ‘response to experiences and to thoughts and feelings’. So, the ‘experience’ is described and related emotions discussed. It then includes a way of ‘thinking to explore learning’ and an ‘opportunity to gain self-knowledge and understanding’. This is the analysis or interpretation of the experience. Finally, the framework will be a way of making meaning out of this creative activity and thinking about future learning and development; which I hope you enjoy as much as me.
Ang, T. (2016). Digital Photography Month by Month: Capture Inspirational Images in Every Season. 15 Jan 2016.
Buzan, T. (2006). Mind mapping. London: Pearson Education.
George, D., Miller, A. and Cunningham, J. (1981). There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management goals and objectives” . Management Review. Nov.
Haughey, D. (2018).SMARTgoals.
Kipling, R. (1900). The Elephant’s Child and other Just so stories. Garden City, NY: The Junior Literary Guild and Garden City Pub. Co,
Lotte Inch Gallery (2018) http://www.lotteinch.co.uk/a-for-art. Accessed 21.12.2018.
Micklethwait, L. (1992). An Alphabet in Art (I Spy) (Selected by). London: Harper Collins.
Prestel Publishing (2015). A Year in Art: A painting a Day. London: Prestel Publishing.
University of Southampton. (2018). Reflective writing. https://www.brookes.ac.uk/students/upgrade/study-skills/reflective-writing/. Accessed: 20.12.18.
Weiderman, C., Funck, A-K. & Kutschbach. (2015). A Year in Art: The Activity Book. London: Prestel.
Wood, P. L. (2019). Continuing professional development of nurse lecturers: a case study. Milton Keynes: Open University.