Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Wildlife Art Society weekend

This event is held every year at Nature In Art, Glos.
It’s a chance for some members to meet up, take part in organised workshops, listen to talks/presentations by professional artists or organisations connected with art or conservation and to generally have a good time.

This year it was held on the last weekend of the Annual exhibition. Originally, unfortunately, both events were due to take place in the week after the floods happened, so of course they had no choice but to postpone and re-arrange. Had the event not been postponed I would have been unable to submit anything for the Annual exhibition, but with the change in dates I could then put in two of the pieces that came back from NEWA (National Exhibition of Wildlife Art).

I was to tutor a batik workshop for the members and give a talk. The workshop was scheduled on the Saturday, which meant it was a bit rushed for them as they had to see how the technique worked, practise it and then do a finished piece in one day. This is a lot to ask people new to batik to do on a two-day workshop let alone a one-day! But we had fun and they all produced remarkable pieces of work for the time they had to do it in.

On Sunday, I was to give my talk, for which I had done a PowerPoint presentation on my job at the zoo. This was my first foray into the realms of PowerPoint, and though it’s very easy to pick up, I had a lot of work to do because it was extremely image heavy, as would be expected of an artist. It therefore took me a few weeks to ‘build’, refine and readjust and when finished it was a whopping 475mb big!! That had to be reduced and whilst this is extremely easy and straightforward on a PC – for some reason which I can’t quite fathom, the Mac OSX system won’t allow for easy compression of the whole document. So I started redoing each image – resizing – recropping etc, one at a time. This was a mega time consuming job and I was getting to the stage where I could see I would only get this finished if I did no other preparations for the workshop etc, which was completely impractical. So I took it into work (zoo) and had it compressed on a PC in the Education dept… reducing it from its grand 475mb stature to a skinny 26mb in one easy step. Something to remember for next time!

Prior to my talk there was to be a Critique given by Bas, who is a well-respected wildlife artist worldwide, he was Artist in Residence for that week. The idea of the Critique is for members to bring along a piece of work, which is hung in a ‘mini-exhibition’ with the members sat in audience as the chosen artist goes along and talks about each piece of work to the artist and group. He/she ideally picks up on what has worked well in each piece and suggests constructively what might be done to improve it, if anything at all.
I have sat through many of these in the past and had my work critiqued in this way… and whilst it may at first seem daunting it is actually quite invaluable to see you work through another’s eyes (especially a professional artist) and hear what is said… particularly the not so good comments. If you take the comments as they are meant – you can learn an awful lot. Of course, sometimes it’s hard to hear the comments, but if you want to improve and show your work on an increasingly professional level, then you must accept criticism be it the good or bad type, take what you need from it and go from there.

Before it took place Bas managed to persuade me to join him in doing the critique. I felt very honoured that he felt I was qualified enough to join him and I hope my input was as helpful as he said it was. It was another character building step and one that I am very glad to have done.

The weekend ended with the award/prize giving ceremony of both TWASI’s Annual Exhibition and the ‘Wildscape’ (UK’s only wildlife art magazine) Wildlife Artist of the Year Competition. I picked up Highly Commended in the TWASI Annual for my zebra foal pastel, which can be seen in my 'NEWA submissions' post in July.

For more information on Bas or The Wildlife Art Society see Links down the right handside of this page.

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