Introduction To HE: Research Trail Assignment: Self-Evaluation Summary

Research Methodology

The OCA resources section was a good place to start my research and led to images on the Tate’s website. I used a meta search to find references to useful books and articles on the subject, along with a search at my nearest city library (Carlisle).  The BBC archive supplied a documentary on Bridget Riley, which had excerpts of the artist speaking about her own work. My primary research at an exhibition of her work in Edinburgh allowed me to contemplate Riley’s paintings in real life (somewhat more impactful than the reproductions found in books), and experience some of the effects and techniques she uses, that I had read about in the articles and books. I took numerous photographs of her work, and made two small sketches exploring the structure of her paintings, and spent some time feeling the sensations that resulted from viewing them.

The primary research was therefore invaluable, but it was useful to have a background of information from reading books by experts and critics beforehand, as I was then able to focus on specific aspects of the work (for example, their effect upon the viewer). The least useful items were from older publications (which could not take into account the whole body of Riley’s work); and commercial websites that were aimed at selling merchandise. Obtaining several perspectives on her work was also useful, as themes became apparent (such as her constant analysis of other artist’s work). I had trouble obtaining books from the library, only one of eight listed (on Bridget Riley) was available, although I managed to order a second book from another library. I may end up having to buy some key texts in future, rather than trying to borrow them. This was an unexpected pit fall that I overcame by studying some more general books on art, and searching for online versions of articles.

My Bibliography and list of websites are here.

Summary of Learning

I felt that I learned a lot from my research into Bridget Riley, her working methods, and by trying to understand her art. I feel that she evokes sensations of recognition in the viewer by producing simplified, distillations of reality, using repeated variations, lines, shapes, patterns and energy. The ‘interruptions’ of unexpected vertical and horizontal lines slow and direct the viewer’s gaze.

Her process illustrated a prime example of someone using the ‘Virtuous Learning Cycle’ that I had recently read about in the Introduction to HE course. She analyses the work of what she considers to be ‘the best’ artists; observes closely, (for example, deriving colour schemes from her travels); and experiments with this new knowledge in respect to her own art work.

What Can I Learn From This Artist?

This research has underlined for me, the importance of analysing the work of artists that I admire, of keeping a good sketchbook for recording my day to day observations; for experimentation based on new ideas; and for thinking reflectively about how new learning can improve and develop my own art work.

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