Project reviews have been a useful aspect of the observation journal. These aren’t productivity/time-management types of reviews. They are about going back over the patterns in my own work, picking up threads I want to follow in the future, recording the epiphanies I always have and quickly forget. (See also previous project review posts for how they’ve evolved.)
I had by now done enough of these reviews that I knew the questions which worked best for me. Yours may vary, but here is the tidied-up version of mine. I’ve printed them out and keep them at the back of my notebook.
Questions for project review:
- The common questions:
- Things that worked / things I was happy with
- Things I disliked / could do better
- Things to try in future / ideas I had while doing the project
- Why did I choose this? What alternatives didn’t I pursue?
- What did I leave out / evade / avoid?
- Tendencies I noticed / things I resisted
- [Added 21/8/22] Ideals
- The occasional questions:
- How did I get it started/finished
- What was the process I followed
- Specific lessons I learned
- How did people respond?
- If I did this exact project again, what would I do differently?
- If I never do a project like this again, which aspects would I try to find/use in other projects?
- Could I have streamlined a difficult/unlikeable part, or found someone else to do it?
Here are three examples:
The first is a review of the August 2020 Wildflower calendar art.
It was useful to record the process because I do these calendar pages so often, and yet I’m always startled by how long certain aspects (getting started, colour flats) take me. It also let me identify a couple of techniques that I wanted to learn.
The next was for a tiny story I had written for a few patrons, “Shadowmill”.
It was good, here, to work out why this story caught my interest (promise, episodic, aesthetic), and what appealed and didn’t about a less-usual way of working: the unpredictability of it, and the potential of the elongated shape.
The next page was a review of the drawings I did in the window at Avid Reader to promote Flyaway.
Drawing on a window was a new technique for me. Much of this, therefore, was to record some very practical (and often, in retrospect, obvious) lessons about cleaning glass first, etc.
A couple of the big ones:
- Keeping plans flexible and drawing freehand was a very good idea when I’m familiar with the style/subject matter but not the exact space I could use or the materials— I was less stressed and able to change things on the fly.
- Drawing is physical and large drawings more so.
- Make sure someone else is getting photos.
- When drawing (especially drawing large) in public:
- have someone delegated to update social media as you go, because people got really into it; and
- have a sign telling people who is drawing and why.
You can see previous project-review posts under the category project review.
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