The Final BA Fine Art Degree Post

The last three years have been quite a journey. I have developed as an artist and as a person. I have experimented with so many different ideas and media which has built my portfolio and shaped my personality. Using so many different media including wood, metal, painting and ceramics but, I am so glad to have come back to the materials I have always loved, charcoal. My work has come back to the body in someway of another in most of my projects but, this last one has been the best. I have been able to express so much through it. Especially the last few months with such disruption in the world, I have focused so hard.

I couldn’t even suggest the most enjoyable part of my degree. It has been quite a rollercoaster with so many ups and a few downs. I cannot express the emotions and pride I am feeling for myself. Thank you to my tutors for your support and guidance.

I am so excited to start my next journey into Art Therapy and continue my practice as an artist.

ArtSteps & How my exhibition plan has changed since Covid-19

Hand Gestures, Nina Williams, BA Fine Art Degree Show, 2020

ArtStep is the platform I have used instead for a final show. If I was to have a final show I would have had the three charcoal drawings in a boxed area with white walls (shown below) which is want I chose in my exhibition proposal. I felt this layout meant the audience would stand inside the area and would be surrounded by the drawings. Each drawing imposes a different emotion, anger. irritation and calm. By being surrounded by these emotions would force more power from each drawing and allow the audience to ‘feel’ the work more. As I played around with the layout on ArtSteps, I realised having the drawings on a long wall would create a more imposing effect on the viewer.

The charcoal drawings are a key part of the exhibition and the original pieces of work I would have exhibited in the end of year show so I felt they should be a dominant part of this virtual exhibition. As I have had the opportunity to create a solo exhibition, I wanted to include more work which reflects the theme. In order, this create the idea of the different parts of the exhibition, I needed to think about the layout, so for the photographs I have create a bay where for them to be displayed. I came across a few other issues once using the platform. When I mounted the drawings onto the wall, they looked as though they were on a canvas. Even after using Photoshop to delete any background I still ended up with a back drop. The torn edges of the paper are part of the artwork and they the mounted effect it didn’t quite give the effect. By enlarging the images I was able to reduce the canvas effect. I played around with frames but it didn’t work for the art. I didn’t want the work to look contained because the torn paper is part of the idea behind the pieces.

The photographs run in an order from the front of the exhibition to the image facing the door which makes the work flow in an orderly manner and for the viewer to understand their reference.

ArtSteps allows me to increase the scale of the images so I can fill the wall from top to bottom. By increase the size of the photographs makes them more impactful. The power of the hands is so strong and relevant in life and so my photographs should reflect this.

The videos on the back wall are a grid of separate screen each with a 20s video of a hand. Originally, I wanted one large screen with a 5 minute film of the movements. However, I was restricted to 4MB per clip. This made me think side ways to breakdown the film however, this worked out for the best because I now have this moving wall of clips which has a bigger impact on the audience because the visual experience is more stimulating and impactful. This is a response I wanted to illicit from my audience. Also, having the videos on small screens, breaks up the work and differentiates it from the large scale drawings and photographs.



Changing the films into smaller films to work on ArtSteps

After changing the film from a time lapse of myself drawing to a film of hand gestures and researching into different ways artists and curators have exhibited film. I decided to have a sectioned part of the exhibition holding the film. This film would be displayed in a white area on a projector with some seating for the viewers. I attempted to add the film into the program but it was too big so, I have had to play around with the size to bring it down. Even after changing the resolution and quality of the film it still didn’t work. I felt quite disheartened by this job because the film may have been displayed but not to the best quality.

After thinking about this problem and discussing it with family, I decided to break the film down into 12 separate films. In a real exhibition, all of the films would be played on a loop at the same time creating a ‘moving’ wall effect. The image below (left) has had a shot from each short film photoshopped onto the grid to show how the exhibition would look if I was able to play all of the films at the same time. After discovering this curation technique, I found it worked better as it breaks up the exhibition with large and small scale pieces. I have also include an edited film created on Adobe Premiere Pro to visualise how the moving wall would look in the exhibition. (Link below). I found this to be a huge setback on my exhibition because the moving wall of hands is more impactful than just being able to play one film at a time on ArtSteps.



I did experience setbacks during this curation but I feel I have dealt with it well and produced a strong exhibition. This problem has allowed me to think outside the box and rethink how I could change and adapt my work to fit the space.


Artist Statement

In my current work, I am exploring gesture and body language, in particular I am interested in hands. I feel they are not always recognised as a powerful expression of emotion however, they have such a strong ability to do so. Hands can be a physical communicator of thoughts and emotions despite what the mouth might be saying. They are able to reflect conscious and subconscious thought through both intentionally expressed and automatic responses.

What is it about hands that make them so expressive? They move freely with the voice and the rest of the body; they are at the forefront in conversation. Hands can convey anger, can be pacifying, questioning, conciliatory and much, much more. The gestures illustrated in my drawings are powerful enough to convey emotion without verbal explanation. The monochrome effect of charcoal on white paper is dramatic and intense, and focuses the eye on the structure and pose of each hand.

My body work consists of charcoal drawing and video. These media combine contemporary technology with traditional materials to explore a genre that has been relevant in Western Art Canon and Cultural art practice throughout history. They are an ideal medium to explore the variety and versatility of gestures that reflect body language and emotion.


Adjusting drawings to work on ArtSteps

After taking photos of my work for ArtSteps, I realised I won’t be able to imply the art to the wall without it being the shape and size of the image including any background. Before Covid-19 the drawings would have been fixed straight onto the wall without a squared off background but attempting this virtually is a lot more difficult.

I have used photoshop to edit out the background however, I still ended up with it being white. When I tried adding it into ArtSteps it looked better than before but, it still made it look square and almost framed. I thought about using frames on ArtSteps to create a border around the drawings but, I felt this would take attention away from the ripped edges and would defeat the objective of them. I found by enlarging the drawings, it helped with this problem but still was not perfect. Unfortunately I am unable to resolve this problem as the only final show I have in virtual.


Charcoal Large scale Drawings

After beginning to develop some film and editing work and then hitting an obstacle of no motivation and being a little confused on where I was taking the work, I decided to produce a few large drawings. I started by thinking about what gestures I wanted to create which resulted in different simple movements. I decided to use minimal amounts of charcoal compared to the earlier drawings I had produced because I felt they movements were light and so the materials I used needed to use needed to be light with not too much tone and shading. I have produced five drawings in this series all focusing on the fingers with different angles to distort them. I found some of the movements more difficult to produce due to the angles and the distortion from these.

Not only was I using this exercise to refocus my mind on your idea, but also to expand my portfolio to strengthen my ideas. I found this exercise enjoyable because I was able to get myself away from my computer and focus on the drawings. In the back of my mind whilst producing these was how my own hand was being manipulated to produce these. Although I was working from an image of my own hand, I also use my real hand to reference the drawings and to create a more realistic piece. The photographs give a very flat 2D interpretation but they do provide a decent foundation. Working from life is more beneficial for me and has allowed me to create a better interpretation and record the movement and fluidity. Although my work has developed a lot further than just sketches and simple drawings, it is always beneficial to go back to simple drawing to refocus and clear the mind. With everything going on in the world today, things have become unsettled and unknown and so taking those times to refocus and calm are essential. Not only this but, an artist should continue with small or simple sketches to keep the creativity flowing.



Taking Photographic Stills From My Hand Film

After editing the Polyopia effect into my film to show the flow in the hands. As a stopped and started the film, I realised the still images were quite interesting. The effects it created is a trailing effect which looks ghostly in the image. I decided to keep the photographs in colour to keep the realism within them. The different movements created an interesting series of photographs for my exhibition. I decided to included this in my final exhibition on ArtSteps because the movements in the gestures are highlighted through the effect and this in a series creates stories of the different emotions within each piece. The movements in these artworks are real life movements which I have produced whilst in a distressed state. You can see through the irritation in the hands and the intense pressure as the hands collide. I wanted to express this emotion because it is one which is commonly shown through body language.

Stills from Photography

After completing the film which has both hands, I decided it didn’t work with the movements I used and the Echo effect as a film. As I was editing the film I was fascinated by the still images. The blurred effect worked so well as images and showed a story through the dominant movement and the trail. After editing them on Photoshop by cropping and altering the brightness and contrast I feel I have created some interesting pieces. I can really feel the emotion and power through these pieces  and have express a story or pattern of change in emotion through this series.

Using both hands in the Film

I decided to play around with the idea of using both hands in my film because I was able to create more gestures with both hands. Showing typical hand ticks people may experience when they are anxious, stressed or annoyed at a situation. Playing with your finger nails, rubbing your hands together and tapping your fingers on a surface are all signs of distress. I wanted to explore this idea through a film along with the Echo video effect on Premiere Pro. I felt with two hands in the film, it created more emotion within the gestures because they are more able to tell a story than just one hand. I decided to keep the colour in this film because I felt it made it more life-like. I also wanted to try the Echo effect on the two hands with colour so see how the colours would be distorted.

Hand Movements


Rewatching the completed video

After the video finally exported I was able to look back at it and see how to turned out after it had been rendered and formatted.

I am happy with how the video turned out considering it was my first attempt to this program. The Echo effect has created a very blurred abstract effect on the film. I feel the video gives a good sense to what I am trying to create but I think with my work and experimenting I will be able to produce something more exhibition ready.

How I would improve the film:

I have decided to refill the material but landscape so I am not left with black panels down the side of the work. The reason I did not do this in the first place is because I didn’t feel it would make much of a difference to the work however, it does. I feel by filling the whole screen with my work I am able to produce a better piece.

I feel the some of the movements in the work have a sense of worry and aren’t free flowing. I feel the hand (my hand) is worrying to much about the movements rather than following the flow. By this, some movements are staggered and you can see the hand stuttering in the film. I want to refill this to relax the hand and make the film more natural. I will begin to think about how the hand moves and how even the smallest of movements by the fingers can create change and a blurriness when I apply the Echo effect on Adobe Premiere Pro.

I have attached the experiment film below.

Hand Movement, 2020, Video, Black & White, Silent, 4 mins