The feather series and reflection

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Dana Hatfield (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
Erin Tapley

Abstract: Over the past two semesters I have explored the medium of drawing through a series of large-scale charcoal and graphite drawings of feathers. What started as small, delicate pencil drawings of feathers have evolved into large drawings adapted from photographs that I have taken. My artwork has become an exploration in a number of drawing elements. The feather serves as a vehicle to explore charcoal and pencil interacting with the paper, the paper interacting with the image, and the image interacting with its shadow. I was drawn to the feather because the more I observed the object, the more complex and interesting it became. I am interested in creating an appearance of layers and complexity with a simple medium, format, and object. The direction I am continuing my exploration in is the play between the paper being the background in some parts of the image, and the foreground in others. The relationship between these elements is subtle and delicate. It has captured my attention and I am working to deeply explore these elements and their interactions to create a viewing experience that reflects my own curiosity. I want to create art that is interesting and captivating to experience viewing. This is an exploration in visual elements for me, and I want it to be a unique visual experience for my audience as well. I want the viewer to feel an interaction with the feather and its complex visual nature, like I have. The size of the work is important, as it takes the viewer out of their normal frame of reference and allows them to notice more about the objects and the elements of drawing. Charcoal and graphite is a medium that is easily changed, smudged, or erased. This characteristic of the medium reflects a temporary feel of the image and adds an element of delicacy, which reflects the delicate nature of the feather itself. Through my artistic practice I have learned that making art requires discipline and structure along with creativity and intuitive decision-making. I most often allow my intuitive nature to discover and explore a new image, process, or idea aristically. I cannot rely completely on my intuitive nature and must incorporate reflective writing, conversation, review of artists, and most importantly, a decision for the direction the work needs to go. I personally have to battle my indecisive nature and consider the strongest direction for the work. During the process of these drawings I have decided that focusing on the visual nature and elements of these drawings was most important to my growth as an artist and the strongest part of the drawings. Much like my drawings are an exploration in the creative process and an exploration in the relationship of a number of elements, there is a similar connection to my teaching practice. I have heard teaching described as “an art,” or a career that only certain people are born to do. I have to disagree with that attitude as I now understand teaching to contain creative developments along with structured techniques to be the most successful. During my undergraduate practice and student teaching experiences I was told that I was a “natural in front of a classroom.” Though I did not decide to go into education until it was time to choose a major, and I never thought of myself as a typical teacher, I did immediately love being in front of a classroom and working with individual students. I knew very quickly that teaching art was enjoyable, fulfilling, creative, challenging, and a career in which I would be successful. This intuitive connection and success in teaching is similar to my intuitive attraction towards art and towards visual elements and images. Though I was initially comfortable with teaching, I always viewed it as a practice that should be open for continuous learning, understanding, and improvement. In order to have a successful classroom, a teacher cannot rely entirely on a strong classroom presence. Over my four years of teaching practice and my current graduate study in art education, I have worked to gain knowledge and understanding of many elements of education, teaching, and art education. I now understand that my role in the school community, my understanding of the outside community, my relationship with students, my relationship with fellow teachers and staff, my curriculum, my classroom management, my personal content knowledge, my assessment practices, my understanding of child development, my presence and leadership in the class and in the school, my expectations of students, and my personal reflection are all integral parts of a successful classroom and that there is always room to grow in each of the elements. For my thesis I will continue to develop my current drawings and create new ones to complete the series. These new drawings will stem from the same process and interest as the current ones, but will be completed with more direction and a place in the body of work. I will also continue to develop my relationship between my teaching practice and artistic practice. I hope to gain understanding of the areas in both practices so that I can continue to learn and develop as I move from beginner teacher and artist to a more experienced and successful art educator.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2011
Feathers in art
Drawing, American

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