iPads for Illustration
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The aim of this pedagogic research project is to aid student’s reflective practice in an environment that is not suited to written critical reflection. To this end we have used technology to capture the students working practice in order for them to re-visit the work at a later date, enhancing their ability to develop their practice as well as critically evaluating the work of others. The projects main aims can be broken down in to:
Innovatively use and assess pedagogic value of “Brushes” app and new iPad technology in an arts context. Aid student learning, understanding and reflection of methods and processes involved in drawing, both for themselves and others, through the use of Apple iPad and the “Brushes” app. Capture student attitudes towards the use of such technology in illustration both before and after the use of iPad on their module. Facilitate a student exhibition of works created using “Brushes” app on the iPad. Through the use of technology encourage positive attitudes towards contemporary mediums within the field of illustration leading to improved employability and student experience.
The module ILLUS241 Extending your Drawing is the second 10 credit drawing module of the 2nd year of the BA illustration course. The intention of this module is to look at the process of drawing. Drawing practice in illustration and other art-based subjects has for many years relied on the final image as a demonstration of learning, the processes behind the work are only unlocked by the artist as a storyteller, explaining their methods as best they understand them. Since the invention of the iPad the ability to construct and “playback” the creation of the work opens up a whole new area for viewing, learning and reflecting on ones own drawing practice in real time.
The BA Illustration programme aims to support creative development within a creative studio atmosphere to explore traditional approaches and introducing more experimental avenues. It has embedded a strong ethos of ‘drawing practice’ as a basis for the development of a healthy illustrative practice. It is proud of its ability to change and develop along side this dynamic industry and intends to keep up with technological advancements in the area.
Reflection can be defined as ‘...a generic term for those intellectual and affective activities in which individuals engage to explore their experiences in order to lead to a new understanding and appreciation.’ (Boud, D. et al 1985) This study is concerned with the use of iPads and the app ‘Brushes’ as a tool for understanding one’s drawing processes and drawing practice through the use of critical and reflective practice. Reflection can lead to a greater understanding of the subject in hand. It is a way of thinking, a way of working, which can be applied within various aspects of education and can alter the way in which students learn.
When drawing, you are constantly reflecting, constantly adjusting and adapting to changes and reacting to your actions. Normally it is impossible to think back and reflect on your actions, as you cannot see your process after the event. The importance of the iPad in this study is that it gives the user the ability to watch and replay the creative process, and reflect upon it, hopefully leading to a greater level of understanding and learning, and improving the student’s own practice. ‘We define reflective learning as an intentional social process where context and experience are acknowledged, in which learners are active individuals, wholly present, engaging with others, open to challenge. And the outcome involves transformation as well as improvement for both individuals and their environment.’ (Brockbank, A. 1995: 36) The module leader integrated the use of the iPads into the life drawing space, with half the students using the iPads and half using traditional techniques, with the aim of making the iPads just another drawing tool, and not something which would entirely alter how the students worked. All learners have a preconceived idea of what their actions will be in a given situation, in this case a preconceived idea about how they draw. The observation in this instance comes from the use of iPads giving the opportunity to play back the drawing process, enabling reflection-on-action and therefore a re-evaluation of personal espoused theory. So, just as the educators justify the way they teach using existing theory, students believe they are drawing and therefore learning in a certain way, when in fact after reflection takes place the reality may be entirely different, leading to a deeper level of understanding.
The philosopher Donald Schön, emphasised the importance of reflection when trying to bridge the gap between theory and practice. If you can reflect upon your own practice and apply theory to this, then learning is enhanced. Schön used the terminology ‘reflection-in-action’ and ‘reflection-on-action’ to describe the two stages into which reflection can be broken down. Within the creative world, and more specifically when drawing, reflection-in-action is a constant, natural process. However, the decisions made during the drawing process, these moments of reflection-in-action have been almost impossible to later reflect on, as up until recently, there has been no way of watching the drawing process back. Students were making judgements on their work using a finished drawing, which does not lead to an improvement in their process, only a desire to make a better ‘final piece’.
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