Isabel Garfield

The Drawing Year 2021
BA Fine Art, Newcastle University 

Isabel Garfield in her studio

In my practice, drawing is central to the way that I gather information from places and experiences around me. I often reference drawings when painting or making installations in the studio. I also draw from paintings I’m working on at various stages, as I find that drawing has a kind of immediacy which helps generate ideas to take paintings in surprising directions. I wanted to do The Drawing Year to give this aspect of my work more attention and focus, and to find ways of working on paper that combined different elements of both observational drawing and working from imagination, of both interior and exterior spaces.   

Isabel Garfield drawing

The Drawing Year has differed from my BA in its focus on in-depth looking and reflecting on the world around me. The structured nature of the terms, with a wide variety of classes, has helped me in my personal work with a new focus and direction. The varied nature of the locations in which we’ve been drawing: galleries, out of house, as well as in the life room, has helped me generate a huge directory of drawings which are informing my studio work, or are independent pieces of work in themselves. I’ve been motivated by drawing in galleries, learning how compositions, colours, or clothes from paintings could find their way into my work in the studio. 

Isabel Garfield

The Transforming Observation course helped me find imaginative ways in which the combination of observation and imaginative drawing can create new narratives and meanings. It encouraged me to use drawings from the life room in my studio work as a starting point for more sustained pieces. More recently, having access to the printmaking workshop has allowed me to explore how drawings can be transformed and go through different stages in print. The tutor's experimental approach has really helped me feel I can work freely in print and allow the etching plate to go on a journey which is documented at each stage.   

Isabel Garfield

I have learnt that looking and taking time to draw from life has strengthened the imaginative aspect of my work. The opportunity to work closely alongside other artists, seeing the different approaches and outcomes both students and tutors can explore from the same subject, has shown me new ways of working.  

The School started our year online which meant we could get going from home whilst in lockdown. The online courses helped me utilise my makeshift working space and realise I could work anywhere. It was really exciting to be then gradually eased into classes in-person and to have a studio space. We’ve crossed over with the previous Drawing Year for two terms as opposed to just one, which has been a good opportunity to get to know them and their artwork too. Having to prepare for the exhibitions has motivated me to tie strands of my practice together and reflect on the work I’ve completed throughout the year.   

Isabel Garfield Studio space

I’ve recently started teaching on the Young Artists programme. It’s been a great way to meet other Drawing Year alumni and to have a chance to teach after having so many experiences of different teaching methods and approaches to drawing over the year. I am looking forward to continuing teaching in future, and I hope to find a studio with other Drawing Year students to continue my art practice.