I am a visual artist working mainly with acrylic paint. During my art A-Level, I had begun to use acrylic paint to adapt and modify sculptures made by others. I wanted to create a multimedia installation piece that utilised my acrylic painting skills and I wanted to develop as a 3D artist. A focus in my painting work had been drag culture, and I wanted to develop this idea further with a multimedia approach. I worked with a 3D artist from Dream Decor, a set and prop designer, a sculptor, and a photographer in order to create my drag dolls installation. I suppose it would be odd to say that my art form is “drag” but I feel like that is what I am developing, I want to move from being a 2d artist in drag to being a 3d artist in drag.
Strengths and Weaknesses at the end of Art A-Level
Research and knowledge of art history – I carried out extensive research for art A-Level. I am an English Literature student and I understand the importance of cultural context
Painting with expression and emotion – I have a good sense of colour and I have a very free painting style
Prolific – I produce a lot of art work and am always working on something
Creativity – I am full of ideas for new projects
Precision and detail – I tend to work on large canvasses and am quite messy, I would like to be more precise and detailed
3D art – So far ,I have not really worked as a 3D artist and I want to develop this in my work
Working to a brief – I struggle when there are constraints placed on me but I know that some people find that the constraints of a brief can make them more creative and I would like to be one of these people
Working to a time constraint – This was a big problem for me in art A-Level and in my English Lit and Philosophy A-Levels. I find a time constraint quite stressful
Multimedia – I have always just been an acrylic painter but I want to develop skills as a multi-media artist.
Anxiety about criticism – I want to get better but sometimes anxiety about criticism holds me back.
My art form and why I chose it: Acrylic Painting and Mixed Media Sculpture.
Before Gold Arts Award, my main art form was acrylic painting. I am also very interested in drag culture. I took major artworks like Scream and American Gothic and recreated them in drag, as you can see above in the painted fingernails of the Scream by Edvard Munch.
Here is some of my acrylic work from before Gold Arts Award
I started to use acrylic paints to create 3d artworks by painting over some busts that I ordered online:
I also tried out some clay sculpting:
My project plan
I wanted to develop my drag project into sculpture. I am really interested in drag culture and I wanted to expand on the ideas I had developed in previous art projects and create something that could be used as an installation. I wanted to create a mixed media project that would challenge ideas of toxic masculinity and make something beautiful with universal appeal.
I decided to create drag versions of a set of WWE wrestling dolls. As they are, these dolls represent a masculinity that is marketed to young boys. I wanted to challenge this by dressing these strong muscular men in drag.
I want to use the skills I have learnt in my acrylic work and research into drag culture. I want to create a full installation and exhibit it. I to find out more about historical drag and implement my research in my artwork.
To collect research I will:
- Investigate drag throughout history
- Visit exhibitions and installations
- Work with sculptors and installation designers
- Research mixed media artwork and artists.
To plan, practise, and prepare for my project I will:
- Purchase a set of WWE Dolls
- Find materials to make outfits and experiment with paints and processes to decorate the dolls
- Plan outfits for each doll
- Plan a photoshoot that places each doll in a cultural setting
To create my project I will:
- Create clothes for the dolls
- Paint, melt, and sculpt elements that will be added physically to the dolls
- Photograph the dolls and photo edit them into a range of locations
To evaluate the success of my project I will:
- Ask an arts practitioner for their professional opinion
- Send a survey round to find out what people think of the project
- Write an evaluation based on my experience and my feedback
How my strengths will help me in this project
- Research and knowledge of art history – I know a lot about drag and its history and I will use this skill to find out more and hopefully I can apply this skill to finding out about art career pathways and events.
- Painting with expression and emotion – I hope that I can bring expression and emotion into the creation of the dolls
- Prolific – This will help me produce a lot of work
- Creativity – I think this one speaks for itself but hopefully, it will help me to create variety in the dolls.
How I can develop my weaknesses in this project
Precision and detail – The dolls and their clothes will be small so I will need to be more detailed and precise in order for them to look good.
3D art – By completing this 3D project I hope to be better at 3D and installation art.
Working to a brief – Although I created it myself, the project plan is a very specific brief that I will need to follow.
Working to a time constraint – Because of my A-Levels, I only have 2 hours a week timetabled for arts award which means I will need to make good use of time. I also missed the start of the year. This is my last year at Treasure House as I turn 20 this year so I will need to finish by a deadline.
Anxiety about criticism – I will get lots of feedback during the project, not just from my teachers, but from students at school, and from outside practitioners. This is a bit scary but I think it is good to get the experience of criticism.
Evidence of Progress
Finding out more about drag culture
I completed a lot of research to inform this project. You can find it in Unit 1 Part C along with my reflections of how it informed the work
Making the dolls
– Face mask painted with acrylics
– clothes rhinestones attached with glue gun (rhinestones feature heavily in drag)
– jewellery – rhinestones
– fabric and fabric paint skirt
– Glue gun for wig and acrylic for powder effect in face
– feathers attached with glue gun
– acrylic paint for hair
– old T-shirt fabric for dress
– hobbycraft rose
– acrylic paint
How working with other practitioners helped with this project
HElen Webb – Sculptor and 3D artist
Helen is the head teacher at my school but she is also a sculptor and 3D artist. I approached her, told her about my project and asked for her help in developing a 3D project.
She thought it would be a good idea for me to build a prototype drag doll out of clay, you can see the prototype here:
Doing this project helped me to visualise the 3D shape of the drag dolls and think about how I wanted the shape of the dress to look. I’d wanted to work on the sculpture more but when the schools closed, it was not stored properly and the clay all dried out which was a shame.
Melanie Jones – Photographer – Working on the weakness “mixed media”
Melanie is a photographer and creative writer, she also happens to be my art teacher. I wanted to develop as a mixed media artist so I asked her to help me with a project that would do that.
Melanie introduced me to the collage work of Rosanna Jones , Man Ray, and David Hockney.
Inspired by these collage photographers, and with Melanie’s help, I made these pictures of my drag dolls in different scenarios:
Transcript of the above – “I started putting WWE dolls into drag to be a real challenge, instead of using ken dolls or something similar. I mimicked my drag through the ages project (research project unit 1C) choosing different eras trying to imitate fashion styles. I used hot glue, fabric paint, and coke cans, feathers and rhinestones, sticks and a small bouquet of flowers from hobbycraft.”
The images above show mixed media photographs where I placed my completed drag dolls in a range of settings. I had wanted to create sets for each doll and display these in an installation at school but unfortunately, due to school closures this was impossible. Instead, each doll was photographed in nature for a final online exhibition.
Izzy Parker – Prop and Set designer- Working on the weakness “working to a brief” and “mixed media” and “anxiety about feedback”
In unit 1B I describe my one-day virtual placement with Izzy Parker in detail. One thing I learnt from Izzy is about working to and adapting a creative brief. Izzy is a mixed media artist and getting to see her studio space was great. Even though she is not a photographer, she has to use photography to capture her art. Izzy set me a challenge to create a sculpture based on sensory emotion triggers. I had not worked like this before. I had to play music, at my favourite food, look at my favourite things, while making the sculpture. You can find out more about it in the next unit.
I knew that Izzy would be giving me feedback which was scary but actually she said lovely things about my work that I did for her. Because of this I wasn’t scared to show her my dolls for feedback.
Izzy taught me about the importance of photographing the art work. My plan had been to use my mixed Media photos as the final project but Izzy suggested that I take some photos that captured the details of the dolls so I ended up posing them in nature. I like the outcome as it suggests that as well as being part of a changing culture, drag can be inspired by the natural beauty in the world.
Neil from Dream Decor – Working on the weakness “3D Art” and “time constraints” and “precision and detail”
In unit 1B I describe my 2 week placement with Neil from Dream Decor in detail. This is just a summary to show how I used the skills I learnt in my art project.
I created a decorated shelf and you can see the result in the next section. This placement was the first large 3D project I had created and it was great to work on something that had a function and purpose as well as being beautiful. When you are working on home decor, you need to be precise and detailed especially if you are making something for a customer.
I took these skills into my drag dolls project, I took my time to paint small details and I worked with smaller tools like tweezers on Neil’s advice.
I learnt how to use hot glue whilst working with Neil and this is something that I used on my drag dolls. I also learnt a lot about installation art. If schools hadn’t closed, I would have liked to take some photos of the drag dolls on the shelf that I made.
Some screenshots of my questions, I asked about whether I had developed my weaknesss:
It is best to look at the link about to see my feedback because it moves and changes but here are a couple of screenshots of important questions results.
My Evaluation of this project
Within this project, I decided to distort WWE dolls trying to change perceptions and mess with masculinity. Trying to help people to look at the world differently. I have an odd fascination with how clothing hairstyles and makeup transform a person and change people’s perspectives of them. I wanted to explore this idea as thoroughly as possible. Universally, gender holds great importance to people although the perspective varies. I took great pleasure in distorting these ultra,masculine dolls into something more classically feminine. 50% of my feedback said that the dolls challenge their idea of masculinity which I think is a pretty good result considering that I sent this survey to a group of teenagers!
Working with paint, gems, material, and hot glue had its challenges because of it being on such a small scale the work was delicate and I burnt my fingers on a few occasions. People said that my project showed precision and detail which is one of the skills I wanted to develop, however, it was also noted that some of the dolls had paint drips where they shouldn’t. I worked with lots if practitioners to help me and I learnt from each of them, Melanie and Izzy taught me about the context of displaying the work, Neil taught me about precision and detail, and Helen helped me to design the dolls and think about how I would execute my ideas.
I looked at dolls clothing and also did lots of research into drag and to relevant styles which you can see in unit 1 section C. This project was multimedia meaning that I had to use many materials and seek help from several individuals. The project helped me to develop techniques that I could use in the future helping me to become detail orientated and its very useful to know how to work in 3D and on a smaller scale. I also enjoyed the opportunity to make artwork that had political undertones and I developed this further in unit 2.
I got feedback on this project through my online exhibition and a feedback survey. This survey was sent to students and teachers at Treasure House but I also sent it to Melanie, Neil, Helen and Izzy to get a professional opinion. I appreciated their feedback and I was pleased that people enjoyed the project and that it got an average rating of 8.4/10.
If I had more time to work on this project, I would have liked to make more dolls and perhaps do the opposite and adapt typically female dolls in a masculine way. I would also like to continue to work on my precision and detail.
How I developed my artistic weaknesses:
Precision and detail – Even though lots of people ticked this as the skill I had developed the most, I’m not sure. The comment about the paint drips makes me think I could have done better. However, working on a small scale definitely helped with this.
3D art – These dolls are definitely 3D art, and the clay sculpture I made with Helen is also 3D. There is a lot more to consider with a 3D piece. Ultimately, I think I did well making this move and would like to explore it more.
Working to a brief – I followed my own brief to the letter and managed not to go off on a tangent which I usually do. I also followed briefs set by the practitioners I worked with so I have a lot of experience with this now.
Working to a time constraint – Well, I got it finished on time! Just!
Multimedia – I enjoyed working in multi0media and have the confidence to do it more now.
Anxiety about criticism – I still feel nervous about getting criticism but I think I am better at using it constructively now.