Fork in the Road

I am approaching a moment of decision, yet I am deeply immersed in indecision. I need more data, or perhaps a crystal ball. It is necessary for me to drop a subject and to select another in which to major and one to be my minor.

I enrolled in this course, the Diploma of Visual Arts, to broaden my range of skills, strengthening the foundations of the Arts business I am building. Also to learn more about the art of illustration to enable me to successfully illustrate the picture storybook manuscripts that I have written and continue to write. To meet the needs of the latter, I also picked up a subject from the Diploma of Illustration, where I gained a strong introduction to Photoshop and Illustrator to produce illustrations from scratch.

picture book illustration - Jenni L Ivins

I have learnt more than how to apply the programs to achieve the results I envision; I have also acquired good work practices that will support my career in a professional manner, making me more employable as an artist. What we do in our public Arts work can feed future opportunities and success. For example, my commitment in meeting a deadline despite an unexpected handicap, demonstrated my reliability, which led to the exhibition and subsequent sale of the collage I created. This in turn, led to my first commission: to create a collage on canvas, using photos of Vincent van Gogh’s 36 self portraits and some of his other paintings, to be photographed and used as cover art for the verse novel, Knowing Vincent, by Marian Spires. The book was launched at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival in Federation Square and the cover with my artwork on it was displayed on a big screen, with my name in big letters along side the author’s. It was very exciting and rewarding for both of us.

In the first year of my Diploma of Visual Arts, I developed my drawing skills and learnt to let go of the idea that drawings need to be literal.

He Sits Alone - Jenni L Ivins
Jenni L Ivins - contemplation on a sunny afternoon

I have explored using few lines to depict a subject; and to loosen up and move away from my drafting work background. This is art, not a technical drawing; though I have also employed elements of my drafting career to my work. In contrast to my minimalistic work, I have also allowed my hand to wander over the page producing highly detailed pictures that invite the viewer to find more in the drawing and to look further.

What I learnt in drawing classes ultimately informed the marks I made in the print room. In Printmaking I have developed skills in intaglio and relief work using various methods. I’ve enjoyed experimenting, combining the various techniques I’ve been taught to produce proofs and a journal with many ideas I want to explore further. I have found success in selling my later prints, at the asking price and fetching a higher price at auction.

The first oil painting by Jenni L Ivins

I have learnt how to make a stretcher and to stretch and prepare canvas ready for painting. I’ve painted in acrylics for the first time in thirty years and painted in oils for the first time ever – and sold paintings in both mediums. I have also learnt new methods of applying mixed mediums with fascinating and inspiring results.

Jenni L Ivins - Beneath the cliff but above the sea wall
Jenni L Ivins - Twist me and turn me and show me the elf

I’ve exhibited my paintings in exhibitions, both locally and more than a hundred kilometres away in Port Fairy, after my work was shortlisted in Blarneys’ BiblioArt competition.

pouring the bronze

I have produced sculptures in bronze, wood, plaster, wax, wire, clay and more. Some sculptures have been ephemeral, but most have been more substantial. My understanding has broadened, especially through exploring ideas in a sculpture project that led to my discovery of nature’s artwork on the local floodplains. I photographed the flotsam and extrapolated upon the sculptural formations, developing diverging thoughts, one of which led to the writing of a manifesto of a whole new art movement (more of that in another blog entry).

Jenni L Ivins bronze sculpture
Looking for spectacles with a telescope JLI

I appreciate the support of my experienced teachers, who have given useful instruction in many areas, including teaching me how to use all of the tools I’ve needed. They’ve been generous in sharing their knowledge and have encouraged my pursuit of artistic ventures that have captured my interest. And this has not been limited to the staff who teach me directly. I have interacted with many staff from the Arts Department, through activities both on and off campus, and I have found that all I need to do is to ask questions and to listen carefully.

In all my art work I have welcomed the chance to experiment and push the boundaries to learn about the possibilities of each medium. I have been inspired by ideas incorporating the mixing of mediums, or different approaches to explore a theme.

Materials suggest what they may become and present a variety of challenges in achieving the results I visualise. I have learnt much in the execution of inspirations.

Through the visiting artists program, excursions and other Arts Culture subjects, I have also benefited by my exposure to other professional artists and their works. Their creative ideas and practices have informed some of my work this year as well as adding to my ideas for future work – as inspiration, not as something to copy. I would find no satisfaction in copying someone else’s work, nor for that matter, in repeating an artwork of my own; however, other artwork can influence or act as a brainstorming springboard from which my own ideas can develop.

I am excited by the lines, colours, tones and textures of the materials I use. I have felt joy when releasing the forms hidden inside a piece of timber, using a spoke shaver or the linisher. There is great satisfaction in stroking a finely sanded or burnished sculpture that shows the colours and grain of the wood from which it has been given life. I think I understand how Guippetto might have felt when he created Pinocchio.

And in a similar way, I’ve felt exhilaration when the clay I molded revealed the right contour as I smoothed a cheek bone or brow, and the face began to become real.

plaster casting

Art is exciting. How can I abandon one subject? How can I select just one in which to major? It all relates to the business I am developing. I have found success in all areas- in creation, academic results, in competition, exhibition and sales. I know now that I am in the right course, at the right time and right place and with the best teachers. Ah, the next step is clear to me now: I shall consult the staff before making my decision.


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