Part One: Tutor Feedback and Own Comments

Overall Comments

Thank you for your submission Rachael. You have a variety of work going on which is good because this is a diagnostic first part and you need to see where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Don’t assume you have a style otherwise you will be too narrow minded with alternative ways to work. Your learning log is in depth and I can see that you are studying hard and understanding the fundamentals of what drawing can be and how it can be depicted. You work better with looser applications, charcoal and expressive media and the 3 vases has been the most successful to show this. There are technical aspects to work with, especially with perspective, measurements of objects next to each other and tonal qualities to give depth to your still-lifes.

I agree with the comments regarding ‘having a style’ and being ‘too narrow minded’ as I think I have thought myself too set in my ways so far, so I will definitely work on being open to trying new methods and exploring ways I would generally not use.

Feedback on assignment

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of

Creativity

Project 1it’s good to see you delving into the expressive mark making but they are a little tamed. With these initial exercises, it’s about getting to know the characteristics of each media so be cathartic and see what they do. In terms of the temporary drawing- this means drawing, which is not created but exists already in the world, such as cracks, marks left, traces, residue. The fact you have found this through cleaning is good. However, do not make them stylised and finished otherwise everything becomes a picture.

I think I will take from this the need to experiment with my media more before I use them for my actual piece.  I will use my sketchbook to carry out these experiments and apply more effort to this than I have so far.  As for the temporary drawings, I will try to ‘see’ this type of ‘drawing’ more and make reference to it to potentially use it further down the line.

Project 2 experimenting with texture- I’m glad you are looking around your house to observe and depict textures. It is not always about making a picture but rather emulating surfaces through different media. I hope you remember these marks to apply to more of the still-lifes and other subjects.

I do very much struggle with the idea of leaving something ‘unfinished’.  I think I need to work harder on stepping back from my work and being ok with it not looking too pretty or obvious.  I will definitely be carrying this knowledge further and will experiment further as I go along.

Project 2 ex 1 group of objectsyes, it is about reading in between the lines. You have to go through the exercises to learn the fundamentals of drawing. This exercise is about measuring accurately and this should help you break down objects in front of you and observe better. You start by being simple, which is good because you need to train your eye to see shapes and scale of objects next to each other. Then you can be more expressive with your lines and mark making. The milk bottle in particular shows good understanding of shape and ellipse. Try not to lose this accuracy.

I definitely have trouble with measuring things accurately, as well as the breaking down of objects.  I have bought a small sketchbook to keep with me always to do brief drawings to practise these skills.

Project 2 ex 2 observing shadow using block of toneyou are being too concerned with what the subject looks like rather than looking at the simplicity of the blocks of tone. Work with different pressures, highlights, reductive drawing and variations of tone to depict the correct depth of shadows. Your planes are quite similar so be careful to observe.

Again, I think this leads back to me thinking I have to create a pretty, finished picture.  I think some of this comes from perhaps feeling embarrassed that some may see the work and think my skills weak, but I know I have to work through this and ‘get over myself’, so to speak!

I was slightly unsure what was meant by my ‘planes’ being quite similar, so I will look into this and how I can improve this area.

Project 2 ex 3- creating shadow through line and marks- it’s good to see you exploring marks and line with different media but try not to create the same qualities each time. The group of plants could be magnified so you are concentrating on the textures and tones rather than making realistic representations. This first part is about exploring. Treat each leaf and part of the plant differently.

I agree I have created the same qualities each time.  Perhaps this is because it is my comfort zone?  I will work to break out of this and work in ways which may not come so naturally to me so that, in time, they will.  I will definitely create more pieces which are of close observations.  I think this may also help me to break out of my ‘pretty picture’ comfort zone, so I am rather eager to do this.

Project 2- ex 4 shadows and reflected light- the piece of the three vases done in charcoal has very explorative mark making; it is raw, expressive and holds substantial gestural qualities. This is best left alone otherwise it becomes too polished and what you see what you get. The pencil piece is not as in-depth, as it has been done with timid marks. The charcoal piece does need work in terms of balance and measurements of shadows but the main factor is you are being expressive with the marks and the shapes of reflection is coming through.

Again, it is leaving pieces as they are which I struggle most with – I feel as though my tutor would give me a negative mark for not finishing work or not being able to see what I am trying to portray, so I need to work on this and not overthink things so much, but trust my intuition more.  I am surprised to see the comment regarding my pencil lines being ‘timid’ and the piece not being as ‘in-depth’ as I felt I put more effort into this piece and recreating the shadows than I did the three vases, so I will consider this more as I move forward.

Assignment- you have tried to use your skills of shadow; light and dark tone representation and composition into a piece, which shows progression. Overall, the whole piece is cumbersome with the amount of objects that are included because you have treated them all in the same way. Break down what is in front of you. Do this by building up your layers from the lightest to the darkest (close-up, foreground, mid, background and distance). This will allow you to differentiate the different tonal variations from light to dark. The perspective and viewpoint is awkward because the ellipse of the plant pot is different to the frontal view of the fabric. So really observe the measurements of your objects next to each other and break down the relationship between the lines. Overall, a very complex image that needs work technically.

I am a little surprised at the comment here regarding the group of objects being cumbersome as I thought I had chosen rather well, but I see it is because I have treated them all the same way – this is something I don’t quite understand either as I thought I was to work in the same media for the whole piece and I tried to change my methods to suit, but clearly I need to work harder on this; perhaps choosing mixed media to represent different objects, as well something such as collage perhaps?

I agree with the comment regarding my perspective and viewpoint, so I will take this into account and look into ways of increasing my skills in this area.

Sketchbooks

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

I assume that some of your images on the blog are from your sketchbook? If so, it’s good to see you trying exercises a few times because you will only improve. However, use your sketchbook as a space to play, investigate what media can do but for you and more importantly practice the fundamentals of the technicalities. Keep these practices simple, by doing outlines, observing the simple shapes and forms and working out perspectives from different angles.

Some of the images are from my sketchbook, yes, but as I stated in my blog, I do not think I have used this well enough during this part of the course.  As I said earlier, I have now invested in a hardback sketchbook of A5 size and shall carry it with me everywhere, drawing anything and everything which catches my eye – whether relevant to the current part of my course or not – and work on improving my measuring and perspectives.  I am also going to go back and have a play with the various mediums, but with no apparent piece in mind – this way I cannot be tempted to ‘prettify’ and finalise the experiments beyond being just that – an experiment.

Research

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

You clearly enjoy reading about artists and your analysis of Redon’s work and the comparative study is analysed well. Do look at the artists I have suggested to help your current work to improve. Also, go to exhibitions, watch documentaries, read behind other artists work independently. The more you look and read, the more you can allow yourself to move on and build up your contextual understanding. Keep referring to the assessment criteria to self-assess. This is good practice.

I really have enjoyed reading about the artists and am actually wondering now whether I would prefer to change my path to History of Art!  I find it hard to find time to go to museums, but will try to work this in to my schedule.  Most notably, I would really like to go to the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition and will take my sketchbook and scribble away!

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

Your learning log is self-reflective and in-depth. You have given insight into your intentions; understanding of the fundamentals of drawing and seen where you need to improve. Make sure you listen to your own improvements and apply them to your work. Your commentary is substantial for this level and you have documented your progress well.

I’m really pleased with this feedback, though the word ‘substantial’ rather threw me as to whether it was a positive or a negative, but decided to settle on a positive and not spend too much time overthinking!

Suggested Reading / Viewing

Context

  • Giorgio Morandi drawings of still-lifes- keeping it simple and looking at measurements of objects.
  • Henry Moore- sheep drawings- look at the lighter cross-hatching technique to depict tone and form.
  • Giacometti- look at how he observes accurately but also depicting a more expressive style.
  • Paul Cezanne (still-lifes)- look at his work for depth and composition.

The artists recommended are so exciting and interesting and seem to suit me completely!  I will do some in-depth research into them all.

Strengths / Areas for Development

You work well with expressive media and with blocks of tone (3 vases). Don’t feel like you have to finish work and make them over polished. Keep this way of working but use reductive drawing to show lighter tones so you are not so heavy handed.

You have exciting and meaningful objects when it comes to your compositions. Break these down so you are concentrating on the fundamentals of drawing, especially tone, measurements and scale. You have different approaches to creating

shadow to depict tone so keep investigating this.  Angles, viewpoints and perspective need work so the work has more accuracy. Your learning log is in depth and you have been self-reflective. Research the artists I have suggested so you can see what I refer to with depth in your still-lifes.

From this, I have taken on board all of the comments, but most notably the ones relating to being less heavy-handed, concentrating on improving my skills in tone, measurement, scale, angles, viewpoints and perspective.

Part Two: Project Three: Exercise One: Still Life Using Line

For this part of the course, I decided to begin by looking, at my tutor’s recommendation, at Henry Moore’s sketches of sheep and trying to recreate them in my sketchbook.

Sketchbook Experimentation

As soon as I saw these sketches, I was mesmerised.  I absolutely love Moore’s use of line in such an expressive, loose and uncontrolled manner.  Up close, the lines appear to have no control or order, yet at a distance, they appear to merge together to form an image of the sheep in question.

I decided to try recreating a few of the pieces in several mediums; pencil, biro, oil pastel and ink and Chinese brush pen.

I found the oil pastel the least controllable, yet was rather pleased with the biro and pencil, both of which appeared to show the lines with a better clarity, however, my favourite had to be the ink and Chinese brush pen as this was by far the most expressive.

Final Piece

For my final part of this exercise, I decided to work with Chinese brush pens in the form of a pen as opposed to the paint brush type.  Whilst I am aware I should have focussed on a natural object, I was fascinated with a carving of a robin in my mother and father-in-law’s home and the surrounding surface.  I tried to stay true to the use of just line and think I have recreated this well.  I think my scaling and perspective are much better now as I used a grid to help me plot the basic image before carrying out the main bulk of the work. 

Line drawing of a robin and surrounding surfaces

Reflection

I really enjoyed the experiments with Henry Moore’s sheep and will try and remember the difference in intensity to represent the different parts of the pieces. 

Whilst I know my tutor told me to try to avoid making everything look like a picture, I have tried to allow this side of myself in my sketchbook for this part of the course and allow a ‘picture’ to form in my final pieces.  Whilst I think I have been rather successful with showing the depth and tone of the piece purely with line, whether close together or spaced apart, I think I may have messed up slightly by trying to represent shadow somewhat by using a thicker line for the outline of that area, such as the underneath of the robin’s breast and the right-hand side of the rugby ball.

Questions

Below are the questions in my course textbook, which I have decided to answer at the bottom of both exercises, as opposed to both together:

What aspects of each drawing were successful, and what did you have problems with?
The parts of this exercise I thought successful were the line-markings and the ability to distinguish between the different sections (e.g. the edge where the bird finishes and the table surface meet), as well as the change in their direction and thus the sense of depth within the piece. The problems I found in creating this piece is the inability to prevent the image from becoming too cartoon-like – perhaps this was due to the media used? Perhaps if I had used pencil the effect would have taken on completely different qualities? Perhaps the line created with the media used mirrors the outline of cartoons too closely?

Did you manage to get a sense of depth in your drawings?
What elements of the drawings and still life groupings helped to create that sense?

As above, the depth within this piece seems to come through at points where the lines change directions due to the change in shapes and forms in the piece, so I do think line is a good way of showing this. I also think that the accurate scaling of this piece has really helped with the dept formation.

What difficulties were created by being restricted to line or tone?

Whilst I feel I was able to include some sense of it, I think there is only so much depth you can include in a piece without the addition of colour to assist, which also rings true for shadow and texture. Certain parts of the piece seemed to have no texture visible by line, however, a slight hint of colour would have helped improve them, such as the wall and ball as these are left as blank, negative space, leaving the mind to have to fill the details in for itself.

How did using colour affect your working method?

No colour was used in this piece, so it was all purely down to the sheer contrast between the black and the white, the positive and the negative space. Due to this, other options had to be considered, such as the grain in the wood, direction of line and also the thickness and strength of the lines to portray different messages.

NB: All citation for images in my sketchbook can be found at the back of my sketchbook or by clicking here.

Part One: Form and Gesture – Assignment Criteria Reflection

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills (35%)

  • Materials: I have tried to use a wide variety of media and materials for my work but, having never studied at degree level before and there being a large gap between my college days and now, I have used this part of the course as a learning curve as to what is expected of me throughout the rest of the course.  I have found I have had to buy and find materials and media as I have gone along, so I have not had much time to use such things as the ink.  I think I need better control with such things as charcoal, soft pastels, ink and oil pastels and intend of working on this as I go forward.
  • Techniques: I have really enjoyed certain aspects of this part of the course – most notably the expressive mark making and crosshatching.  I definitely need to work on my ability to control the media to create finer, more delicate detail in my work, but I don’t intend it to be a massive part of my work as a whole as I much prefer the mess and lack of control.
  • Observational Skills: Whilst I think I am rather capable of drawing what I see, I think I need to work more on my ability to scale things properly as I have found in several of my pieces that lining objects or sections of the piece up can sometimes go slightly awry.  I think I need to do more quick continuous line sketches to really strengthen my skill in this area.
  • Visual Awareness: I thinkmy skill in this area is still developing, but I have found myself questioning almost every aspect of the world around me as to what media would best represent such things as the texture, tone and perspectives.
  • Design: Throughout this part of the course, I have found myself looking for natural ‘frames’ of things I feel would work well in a piece of work.  I think my skill in this area will only improve the further I delve into the course.  Again, I think I need to work more on jotting things down or taking photographs as and when they crop up so I don’t forget them. 
  • Compositional Skills: For this assignment, I feel I really took control of the choice of objects chosen instead of just grabbing anything I could find, as I had in the earlier exercise and set them up in a way which would provide me with the best layout for being able to translate such things as the negative space, tonal ranges, perhaps including something such as a the net bath toy bag with its loose objects inside.

Quality of Outcome (20%)

  • Content: Again, whilst I think I have put a lot of effort in throughout this part of the course, I feel I have given a lot of time to the more administerial aspects instead of the actual content.  My thought process for this was purely because I knew this part would not be assessed, so I wanted to ensure that when I did come to the parts which were assessed, I had created ways to be able to deal with the administrative side in a much smaller timeframe and leave more time to focus on creating more visual content.  Regardless, I feel my content in my final piece holds very strong emotion and is very meaningful to me.  However, I do feel I could have chosen more interesting objects which would make the viewer as what the relevance was, why it was significant and want to know more about their stories. 
  • Application of Knowledge:  Having gone back through all of the exercises for this part of the course, I feel I have done well in applying my knowledge gained so far.  I think this will also only improve as I move through the course when I learn new things.  I did find, however, that I seemed to have misinterpreted part of Project One: Exercise Two as drawing see-through objects, instead of drawing the shapes I could see within them.  I tried to rectify this by creating a version of this for my final piece, as shown above.  I think I need to work on ensuring I fully understand each exercise and project before I attempt to begin them, perhaps by making my own assumptions about it and then checking them against other students’ interpretations for that part.
  • Presentation of Work in a Coherent Manner: I think my learning log is rather accessible (I hope!) and easy to move through.  I struggled at first with how to use WordPress properly – again, eating a lot of time unnecessarily – but think I have managed to get my head around it now.  I think I may ask several members of my family to try and navigate their way to certain points on my site and then get their feedback and update it where needed.  Due to not reading the projects and exercises properly sometimes, as well as not having all the necessary media and materials at first, my sketchbook is rather scatty I think, as well as it being only A4 in size.  I had begun the projects before speaking with my tutor and her advising me to work on A3 or bigger, so I have invested in some larger sketchbooks and will try to make my work going forward more chronological in its order.
  • Discernment: I think my ability to judge my work well and critically is rather good, but I think there is always room for improvement.  Again, I have tried to find methods of speeding things up and have created a questionnaire relating to reflecting on my own work, which I will be using on every exercise going forward.  I also think my progression through the course will increase this skill naturally.
  • Conceptualisation of Thoughts: I have used several mind maps throughout this part of the course, but think I could have used more.  Again, I think this is purely down to time available to me.  I found that I tend to jump from one idea to another rather quickly without putting much thought into how they could be linked, when and how they could be used etc, so I intend on carrying a small sketchbook or notepad and pen around with me constantly to be able to jot down any thoughts, feelings or ideas I have for later use.
  • Communication of Ideas: My learning log is rather accessible and user-friendly, though I think I may need to make it more visually appealing going forward.  I think I need to reduce my word count and increase my visuals so viewers don’t bore easily. 

Demonstration of Creativity (25%)

  • Imagination: I have used imagination in my final piece in choosing the objects to create my group and also to represent my ‘secret’ meanings within them.  On the surface, they are just everyday objects, but once you read the explanation surrounding each object, I think it does become much clearer that each was chosen for a specific purpose and to represent different textures as well as personal meanings.  There is an evident lack in the variety of tools, media and material used in my work so far, but I hope to improve on this now I have discovered what is required of me and actually having access to such items now and even more as time progresses.  As already stated above, I need to jot down ideas more in my sketchbook so I don’t forget them and collect more and more samples of things to attempt to experiment with.
  • Experimentation:  I believe I have done this well in the build up to my final piece with my breakdown of each object, though I could have experimented more with the surfaces I chose to work on.  I was running rather close on time for the final piece, but decided that I would have more time going forward, so would focus on this more in my future pieces.  I also want to experiment by recreating artists’ pieces in my sketchbook when researching them to try to understand them and their work better.
  • Invention: I have created several sheets to help me speed up my processes moving forward – a task I believe has drained me of precious time, but one which I hope will speed my processing up in the future, leaving me with more time for experimentations, research and development of my skills.  Besides these sheets, I feel I have not done much in the way of inventing much else so far. 
  • Development of a Personal Voice: I believe I have a good sense of my personal voice – I know I like dark, moody, expressive marks and am not too keen on fine, patient detail (not to mention the effort this takes with my tremor), but I am not too stubborn or set in my ways to overlook these things and want to try to learn to embrace them as opposed to sticking to my strengths and avoiding my weaknesses.  I have been surprised on a number of occasions at to how much I have enjoyed things I thought I wouldn’t like; the temporary drawing was actually rather soothing as opposed to my initial thoughts that it would be frustrating and the same again in the fine detail of the polyester bag.
  • Research: I put a lot of effort into my research of Odilon Redon but, again, think I put too much effort into the wording as opposed to experimenting with replicating his work myself.  This is definitely something I will work on improving in future parts of this course.
  • Critical Thinking (Learning Logs): My learning log is well laid out and structured and the sheets I have made have helped somewhat and will only help more in the future.  I think I definitely need to work on my clarity of thought processes and also the types of questions I should be asking myself about my work and how best to improve it.  This is something I am trying to work on and will use what I have written here as well as any feedback from my tutor to develop this skill sufficiently.

Assignment One

To begin this assignment, I decided to work through my previous exercises in coming up with my main piece.  I began by working out what I wanted to draw and why by creating a mind map:

Assignment One Mind Map

Preliminary Work for Final Piece

I had settled on several objects which were of significant importance to me, draw each one with eight different media (pencil, biro pen, drawing pen, ink and wash, soft pastels, oil pastels, watercolour pencils and charcoal).  I decided on the most suitable as follows:

Assignment One Group of Objects
  • Pearl bracelet: This item represents myself.  I was given this as a gift from my best friend for my wedding, so my emotional attachment to this object is very strong.  I also like how this object allows me to attempt to recreate spheres and a pearlized surface.  I decided after the mixed-media experiment that I really liked both the ink and wash and the charcoal to best represent this object.  The charcoal is much more flexible in recreating the pearlized surface and can also be lifted with a putty rubber if needed for the lighter areas.  
  • Metal tool: This item belongs to my husband, who is a mechanic and whose (almost!) whole life revolves around his phenomenal capabilities with objects such as this.  This object also allows me to recreate a reflective surface, but also offers a textured surface in the middle section, where I intend to use or recreate a piece of frottage.  My favourite resulting media for this object was the charcoal and soft pastels due to their ability to blend and be lifted with a putty rubber as and when needed.
  • Cactus plant and pot: This object belongs to my eldest daughter, who has a love of cactuses (possibly because it doesn’t matter so much if she forgets to water them every now and again! Haha!).  For the cactus, I preferred the charcoal and soft pastel as I felt they gave the object the rough and furry appearance it holds in real life.  I also really like the drawing pen as this really recreates the spikiness of the plant’s spines well.  For the plant pot, I really liked the charcoal as it was the best result in creating a smooth, flat (but curved) surface, but also the messy texture of the soil.
  • Toy sheep: This object belongs to my youngest daughter and was her bedtime buddy for a rather long time.  I found this object rather difficult to master with the majority of the media as they all seemed to add texture that would be present in actual wool, but not in a plastic toy.  I decided my favourite media for this was the pencil and watercolour pencils due to their smoothness.  I think, with more time and patience, the charcoal and soft pastel would also work better as they could be lifted with a putty rubber to show a reflection of light.
  • Pot towel: This represents our family home and life together.  Whilst a pot towel holds no actual significance, I liked that it is a good representation of fabric for texture and it was just the right size to put alongside my other items.  I found that my favourite media for this object was charcoal as it was the most accurate result.  My second favourite media was the oil pastel due to the white of the background showing through, similar to the actual object.

As a few quick exercises to familiarise myself with the group of objects before I got to work on my actual final piece, I decided to attempt some basic exercises I remembered from my school days:

  • A continuous line drawing: I wanted to practice my skill of looking without removing my pencil from the page or looking down and relying solely on my hand / eye co-ordination to reach a final piece.  Whilst I think the piece looks like something my three-year-old could do, I can see my skill of looking is actually improving somewhat and it is something I will work on more going forward, especially if I am going to create quick, rough sketches of things which may move position quickly (such as people in a café etc).
Assignment One continuous line drawing
  • A drawing with my left (non-dominant) hand:  I am rather ambidextrous anyway, but I thought by attempting to use my non-dominant hand, I may be able to remove my inhibitions and potentially see something with the other side of my brain which I hadn’t previously seen.  What resulted was actually that I could not really apply any pressure to the piece with the pencil.  I also found that my scaling ability was rather
Assignment One left-hand drawing

I also drew a ‘normal’ quick sketch of the group of objects, using very quick, rough marks to highlight points of note in the objects – the spines on the cactus, the folds in the material and so on.

Assignment One expressive lines and marks quick sketch

I then created another quick sketch of the basic shapes I could see in the group of objects as a point of reference when completing my final piece.

Assignment One basic shapes seen in group of objects

The End Result

I decided to begin my final piece in charcoal as that had had the best results in my experiments.  I created a sketch of the basic shapes and outline of the piece, then moved on to creating a base layer of shadows and tone with willow charcoal.  Once I had finished that, I worked into the tone to deepen certain areas with a charcoal conté stick, lift areas with the lightest tonal value with a putty rubber and also used a white soft pastel conté stick for such areas as the cactus’s spines due to the ease of control provided.

Overall, I think this piece has been quite successful, however, I think I have misjudged the proportions and scale of the plant pot.  I really like how my pot towel worked out and have found a real passion for fabrics.  I found the metal tool rather hard to recreate due to still not having the best grasp on working with reflected light, but I think my pearl bracelet and plastic toy sheep has turned out rather well.  I really enjoyed creating the cactus, but think changing the spines to white instead of using the charcoal, as I did in my experimental sketch, has lost some of its structure and realism, although it does create a ‘fuzziness’ which is apparent in cacti, so maybe it is actually somewhat better than I think? 

Assignment One: Finished Piece

Looking at the piece from afar, I think I may have overworked the darkest tones and, in doing so, have created a cartoon-like response, which I was determined to try to avoid.  Maybe I should accept that that is just my style of working, but I am determined to improve in this area.  I have definitely learned some skills to take with me into the next part of my course.