NSCAD Univer­sity

When dream­ing about the arts turned into John Aspin be­com­ing an artist

The Coast - Career Minded - - PAID CONTENT -

John Aspin had al­ways been in­ter­ested in the arts. But be­cause he was pas­sion­ate about a ca­reer in medicine, his in­ter­est in art be­came more of an ex­ter­nal af­fair: buy­ing art, vis­it­ing gal­leries and ex­hi­bi­tions. He en­joyed his ex­pe­ri­ence in ju­nior high in the UK, sculpt­ing and paint­ing in the school’s art de­part­ment, but still he ended up choos­ing the safer op­tion and be­came a physi­cian.

But then, 10 years ago, Aspin started do­ing paint ther­apy on him­self. He would paint dreams and sym­bolic forms that would ex­press his dream ex­pe­ri­ences. By the end, he had a col­lec­tion of about 100 dreams in wa­ter­colour. Cre­at­ing this body of work mo­ti­vated him to go on­line to look at NSCAD Univer­sity, to see if any cour­ses could fit within his sched­ule.

Af­ter look­ing at the wide range of of­fer­ings, Aspin saw that two, of­fered through NSCAD’s School of Ex­tended Stud­ies, took his in­ter­est. The first was In­tro­duc­tory Dig­i­tal Pho­tog­ra­phy, and the sec­ond was the Port­fo­lio Prepa­ra­tion (ON­LINE) course. Aspin com­pleted them last win­ter. “I do work as a physi­cian three days a week, so I could fit both into my time. Al­though there was a bit of con­fer­enc­ing in port­fo­lio, a lot of the work was be­ing done by email and ob­vi­ously in-between time. But there were pe­ri­ods that were quite busy, where you have to go out­side and take pho­tos in the city,” he says.

The In­tro­duc­tory Dig­i­tal Pho­tog­ra­phy course, run by Kris­tine Richer, proved to be the more chal­leng­ing for Aspin. Us­ing Pho­to­shop and a com­puter to process pho­tos was dif­fi­cult to nav­i­gate. How­ever, he learned a lot about how to use the cam­era man­u­ally and ended up with a col­lec­tion of im­ages that could be re­viewed later in Port­fo­lio Prep.

That Port­fo­lio Prepa­ra­tion course came nat­u­rally, as Aspin had al­ready been do­ing wa­ter­colour paint­ing, and had lots of spare time. The cour­ses kept him busy, and helped him to work out­side the box.

“It was ex­cep­tion­ally use­ful, and it helped me to be a lot more selec­tive with my im­ages and cut them down. I de­vel­oped a sketch­book, which I’d never done be­fore, and put to­gether var­ied forms. The nice thing about it was it broke me out of the use of reg­u­lar ma­te­ri­als and forms,” says Aspin.

The Port­fo­lio Prepa­ra­tion class is a 10week on­line course de­signed for stu­dents who have a pas­sion for art, but need as­sis­tance in cre­at­ing a port­fo­lio for univer­sity or col­lege ac­cep­tance. The on­line pro­gram pro­vides guide­lines for stu­dents to de­velop a wide va­ri­ety of art­work that helps show their di­verse skills, and ul­ti­mately helps them to get ac­cepted into the art school of their choice.

“The pro­gram re­ally gave me a great

deal of con­fi­dence. I just think of the un­fold­ing cre­ativ­ity and the ex­cite­ment of just break­ing free of lin­ear—a lot of my work is struc­tured. Now I’m us­ing my right brain, look­ing around, and us­ing ev­ery­day ma­te­ri­als in a new way,” says Aspin about the af­fir­ma­tion he re­ceived from Port­fo­lio Prepa­ra­tion.

He had con­stant feed­back on his art­work from his pro­fes­sors, Charley Young and Anna Sprague, who could give him use­ful guide­lines. By the time he was fin­ished, he had a nice va­ri­ety of im­ages for sub­mis­sion when he ap­plied for his BFA at NSCAD.

“It re­ally nailed it in, in terms of be­ing ac­cepted,” he says of his mixed-me­dia port­fo­lio. He had com­pleted unique piec­work es us­ing spices for colour­ing, as well as cre­at­ing var­i­ous 3D forms and ob­jects. At one point he even took an elec­tric hand drill and tied twigs to it, then used the drill’s spi­ral mo­tions to make a paint­ing.

Along with keep­ing Aspin cre­ative, the pro­gram kept him or­ga­nized and on track with his art­work. “It took a great deal of self-con­trol, but I’m used to that. Even now, I know I have a draw­ing to do tonight for my class, and it will take me the rest of the day. Since I’ve been at NSCAD, it has kept me busy.”

Aspin is now reg­is­tered as a part-time BFA stu­dent at NSCAD and tak­ing the gen­eral foun­da­tion course. It’s early days into his cur­rent pro­gram, and even­tu­ally Aspin sees him­self stop­ping med­i­cal com­pletely to pur­sue art.

“I’m at that stage in my life, I’m not a young stu­dent and I have a pen­sion. I’m not do­ing it for mone­tary gain but for recog­ni­tion. If I de­velop well enough, I would like to have an ex­hi­bi­tion. But I’m think­ing of it much more as a con­tin­ued self-ex­pres­sion and self-en­joy­ment, and not about mak­ing money,” he says.

Aspin is look­ing for­ward to ex­plor­ing con­structed forms as he is in­ter­ested in sculpt­ing with big met­als. He has al­ways been fas­ci­nated by 3D forms and the space within the solid form—lin­ger­ing ef­fects of be­ing brought up in the UK on Bar­bara Hep­worth and Henry Moore.

Aspin says the pro­gram at NSCAD is in­cred­i­bly en­cour­ag­ing, and the teacher/ stu­dent re­la­tion­ship is warm and has done noth­ing but in­crease his self-es­teem and con­fi­dence in his own art ca­pa­bil­ity. In fact, he says his whole con­nec­tion with NSCAD has been like this.

“I would rec­om­mend any­one who wants to be ac­cepted at NSCAD to do the port­fo­lio prepa­ra­tion course. If you haven’t had ex­pe­ri­ence in main­tain­ing a port­fo­lio, it’s a great way to boost con­fi­dence and feed un­der­stand­ing.”

Aspin says Port­fo­lio Prep is a lot of in­for­ma­tion, but he wouldn’t have been ready for his BFA with­out it.

The next on­line Port­fo­lio Prepa­ra­tion class runs Oc­to­ber 21 to Jan­uary 13. For more in­for­ma­tion or to reg­is­ter for it, call 902-494-8224 or visit nscad.ca.

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