Self Directed Practice

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Self directed practice is simply an academic project the focus of which the student defines themselves. Typically, it evolves from course work or sketchbook drawings. Typically also it is rooted in what the student is naturally interested in. The role of the teacher at the beginning of the project is important. For this reason, self directed practice should start with a personal consolation lasting around 10-30 minutes. During the consultation, the teacher should:

  • Examine the project for its feasibility. Can it be completed in time? Are there sufficient recourses available for its needs? etc.
  • Advise as to its technical requirements. For example, if it is a painting, what sort painting surface will be employed, what kind of primer does it require, and how big will it be? Such questions all help turn the fuzzy idea into a real plan.
  • Clarify the project. It might be that the student has only the most nebulous idea of what their project is. However, scattered through their sketchbook and their prior work are enough clues to give solid form to their ideas.

It is important that during consultation the teacher not enquire too deeply as to what the student means by their project. Meaning is something that is best left to evolve. The desire to make the thing should be primatised.

To start the ball rolling, the student should bring in a range of relevant materials: sketchbooks and course work, but also web links to things they are interested in, books, films etc. Anything at all. Their domain interest will be the germ that starts the ball rolling.

It is important that the student does not over-reach themselves. If they wish, for example, to do an animation, yet have no prior experience in animation the an alternative plan should be sought.

Very importantly, a self directed project scheduled to last six weeks should not be started on week five. The typical student last-minute cram WILL NOT WORK.

In a self directed practice project scheduled to last six weeks, there should be at least one scheduled group review, during which their work in its current state is to be displayed in a professional manner. This should take place some time during the fourth week.

Examples of self directed practice

The following are examples of self-directed practice. The project lasted around seven weeks.

Anh Pham Phuong

These drawings developed directly from her sketchbook drawings, being very much transcriptions of them. These photos do not give justice to the playfulness of the originals, which had a substantial material presence. Clearly ideas of optical illusion influence her work.

Anh Pham Phuong 01.jpg
Anh Pham Phuong 02.jpg
Anh Pham Phuong 03.jpg

Anh Pham Phuong

This drawing was quite small, but immensely detailed. Foolishly, he made the mistake of mounting the final work, which had a negative impact upon the final result.

Bach Pham Huu 01.jpg

Duy Le Khanh

This student was not brilliant at drawing, but he used photo reference effectively, and was very engaged by his topic. He learned a lot about perspective, but still has a lot to learn.

Duy Le Khanh 01.jpg
Duy Le Khanh 02.jpg
Duy Le Khanh 03.jpg

Bao Nguyen Hoang

This student was one of the many that made a book for their project. The final result can be downloaded here: Right click to download (9 MB) The result was not bad, though he could have spent longer getting the typographical details correct.

Bao Nguyen Hoang 01.png
Bao Nguyen Hoang 02.png

Duy Nguyen Anh

This student was not brilliant at drawing, but he used reference very well. Importantly, his preparation was very effective: he started with detailed sketches, then made a full-size preparatory drawing before he made the final digital file. It is the preparatory drawing which is shown here.

Duy Nguyen Anh 01.jpg

Huong Pham Thanh

This student had a passionate engagement with the human form. She sourced her images from photos she found on the internet. She quickly learned the fundaments of water-colour painting, and was very productive.

Huong Pham Thanh 01.jpg
Huong Pham Thanh 02.jpg
Huong Pham Thanh 03.jpg

Huong Pham Thanh

This final project was a digital painting. I have included also the preparatory drawing.

Khanh Lam Van 01a.jpg
Khanh Lam Van 02a.jpg

Quan Tran Le Bao

Another digital painting project.

Quan Tran Le Bao 01.jpg
Quan Tran Le Bao 02.jpg

Phuc Tran Nguyen Hong

This illustration project was derived from the book 'The Thorn Birds'.

Phuc Tran Nguyen Hong 01.jpg

Truc Lai Thien

A large print derived from photographs she had taken of faces.

Truc Lai Thien 01.jpg