Part Four: The Figure and the Head – Assignment Criteria Reflection

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills (35%)

  • Materials: I feel I have been rather restricted in my use of materials in this part of the course, having used mostly charcoal, acrylic paint pens and biro throughout, however, I tried to follow my tutor’s recommendations to exclude those things which do not appear to suit my style and to focus on those things which I am strongest in. I feel I have used each medium well for my final pieces and that they have suited each piece best, however, I feel I do need to work on my use of conte sticks and ink and shall use the next Part of the course to explore this further, when I am not as restricted and have the opportunity to revisit experimental methods much better. With regard to supports, I have stayed with cartridge paper for this part of the course also to avoid creating a cumbersome and cluttered piece. I will, however, revisit this area again in the next Part in the same way as the mediums.
  • Techniques: I have tried to incorporate some of the methods discovered in the research topics I have covered within my own pieces, most notably that of Henry Moore, whose work I have found a great respect and appreciation for. However, I do wish to revisit my techniques in the next Part to attempt to vary things up slightly. I do feel I have a tendency to stick to expressive markings in the majority of the pieces and sketches created, although I was very pleased with my technical application in my self-portrait in charcoal and feel I restrained myself rather well in this piece.
  • Observational Skills: I feel I have improved rather drastically in this respect and have a natural ability to be able to see the human form and to be able to recreate it rather accurately within my work. I think when I include other information within the piece (such as my settee), I then spoil the piece and create clutter and inaccurate perspectives. This is definitely something I will need to improve in and perhaps realise I do not need to include every single aspect of the surrounding furniture as it then has a battle with the object I actually do want as my main focus. I definitely still need to work on my proportioning skills, but feel I have worked rather well with producing some level of this in this part. To improve on this, I think I will try to do at least one sketch everyday of all kinds of objects, not just the human form, to enable my artistic eye’s skill to improve.
  • Visual Awareness: I feel the best representation for visual awareness I have done for this Part of the course is most definitely within the self-portrait in charcoal piece. I think I have been rather aware of such things as skin blemishes and imperfections whilst creating the piece. Perhaps this is because it is my own face and I am very well acquainted with it? I think really looking at others when creating pieces of them will help with this too; if I try to really understand why someone’s facial skin falls the way it does over the bones, where their imperfections lie etc, I will definitely be able to create a piece with as much of a story as my own. I feel I still need to work on my understanding of colour and different surfaces, both of which I feel will be good to try to look into within the next part of the course, however, will look into my understanding of colour within the future parts of my degree journey.
  • Design: I think I am rather good at zooming in on certain areas of objects to decide what would be the most interesting, although I do not feel I have done much of this within this Part of the course due to the requirements of the exercises. I feel there has not been much opportunity (besides the foreshortening) to create the more interesting types of pieces. Foreshortening is definitely something which I think would be another good avenue to explore further as I really enjoyed recreating the pieces by Hatt and Hankin in the research for this area. I also think the quick sketch I did of my own head which was slightly from a side angle also worked rather well and would have made quite a good subject for my final piece.
  • Compositional Skills: Again, I think my use of a grid to assist me with my final pieces have really helped me in laying the base work down and assisting with the proportions, allowing me to then work rather freely within these drawn boundaries without losing the majority of my basic proportions. However, whilst my grid method is useful in this way, it still has room for improvement as some areas do still lose their shape. The outline cannot help with building the depth and tone within the final image, so this is something I need to work on. Also, I think by making the squares in the grid smaller, I will be able to focus in on even smaller areas of the piece as a whole. Perhaps I do not need to do this throughout the whole of my chosen image, but just those areas with finer detail, such as the face and hands.

Quality of Outcome (20%)

  • Content: I feel I have still continued to keep my content relevant and appropriate and avoiding excessive wording. I do feel, however, that I could definitely improve by including more variety of subjects and to use the sheets I created with questions to answer regarding each exercise, research point or assignment. I feel I have let this slide a little in this part of the course, but think this is purely down to having spent much more time drawing due to really enjoying the topic in question. Going forward, I feel I must really improve on my use of the questionnaires and depth of my responses.
  • Application of Knowledge:  I have used my research findings much more frequently in this part of the course, having listened to my tutor’s comments regarding choosing artists whose work is much more relevant to my own, most notably that of Moore and Chaubhan. I do think, however, that I did not really apply my knowledge as well in the tonal assignment piece and am rather disappointed with that. I think I definitely need to learn to restrain my arm and really try to remember that less is more!
  • Presentation of Work in a Coherent Manner: I think I have continued to keep my website accessible and easy to follow. I do think the wording is not always 100% linked to my sketchbook work and the reasoning for why I have created something within my sketchbook not always very clearly explained, my translation of my ideas not always being easy to decipher. I think, again, using my questionnaires will help to connect the dots much easier and help others understand my reasoning.
  • Discernment: I believe I have construed the exercises, research points and assignment well throughout, however, I still have times where I stumble over one or two things because the meaning is not immediately apparent to me, which can then lead to a lack of time spent on other things. I generally tend to use my own initiative in this respect, however, there have been occasions where I have had to ask other students as to their interpretation or to view their learning logs to see whether I am generally on the same lines. Whilst I do not copy other students’ work, I do like to get a general feel as to which direction I should be moving in with regard to the exercise in question. To improve on this, I think I need to take a little more time working out the requirements of each exercise before beginning and to keep referring to my textbook throughout, ensuring I do not divert any.
  • Conceptualisation of Thoughts: As stated above, whilst I think I have been rather coherent in getting my ideas and methods across, I also think I have lacked in this somewhat in my final assignment pieces, having carried out experiments but then stayed with what I know etc. I believe I could improve in this by spending less time on the exercises and more time on the assignment itself, but also using my questionnaires to prompt me to comment on things I may have forgotten about which will help the reader / viewer understand easier.
  • Communication of Ideas: Again, I feel this is rather similar to several other areas above in that I need to use my questionnaires more to prompt me to remember to include something which could appear as a gap in the process story, specifically within the crossover between the learning log and the sketchbook. I also think the use of mind-maps may also assist the viewer in understanding my initial burst of ideas and how I developed from them.

Demonstration of Creativity (25%)

  • Imagination: I think I was rather creative in this section by using my time at my karate class to create some of the movement pieces, as well as in my final assignment self-portrait piece. I tried to create a story for the viewer to be drawn to question, causing interest and intrigue. Again, I think mind-maps will assist me with thinking up new ideas and methods. I was rather disappointed with my portrait from imagination as I do not feel it was original at all really and seemed to just hold parts of my own face within it. Imagination is definitely something I would like to work on as I feel I am much more capable of producing very basic ‘black and white’ pictures and do not really tend to stray from exactly what is seen. Again, this is something I feel I really need to work on, specifically in such areas as with not always having to include an outline and allowing myself to stray from the realm of reality some more.
  • Experimentation:  I really enjoyed experimenting with the artists’ work which I had found which suited my style more than previously had been considered as I felt an intrigue to work in a similar way to try and appreciate what the artist may have felt when creating their pieces. Doing the research has definitely influenced me to want to work expressively and also to look more at the foreshortening aspects available from different poses and the interest and excitement they can bring. I do feel I could have been more experimental within my final assignment pieces, however, I intentionally decided not to do so to be able to dedicate more time and energy to this new method within my next assignment and to just focus on working with what I had studied within this part of my course to be able to assess them independently and to not include everything garnered from this part.
  • Invention: Besides the idea to include changes to my grid system to assist me with creating better finer details, I do not think there has been much opportunity to be inventive within this part of the course. I thought it rather interesting to consider my tutor’s comments regarding my removal of the use of colour and to focus on monochrome work, but am intrigued to know her views as to simply including one colour or a mixture of colours as a background or working with only a limited palette. This is also something I would like to consider in my next part of the course. Again, I believe the use of more mind-maps throughout will also assist me in discovering new ways to be inventive within my work.
  • Development of a Personal Voice: I feel my personal voice has definitely begun to develop within my work; I have reduced to only monochrome and limited palette work and feel the strongest connection by far to the human form and other organic structures, specifically when created in large, energetic ways, showing movement and fluidity. As stated above, whilst I feel somewhat restricted by the removal of colour completely, I do feel the inclusion of this as a base to my pieces will help re-integrate the usage and not allow my skills (or lack thereof!) in this area to grow stale.
  • Research: I feel my research has improved tenfold since searching for more relevant artists to my own work and that the influences of which are beginning to show though. I am struggling with a few of my tutor’s recommendations of artists as I still struggle to see how they relate to me. For example, whilst I appreciate Charlotte Verity’s work, it does not excite me or draw me in as I feel it too light and delicate compared to what does draw me in. being darker, bolder, more atmospheric pieces. I actually really enjoy those pieces which are very heavily done and which have a lot of texture as a result as I feel much more emotionally connected to these pieces. With this being said, I have tried to consider the delicacy of Verity’s touch and the plain backgrounds in my own work (such as the consideration of using a calmer colour as a background for my pieces).
  • Critical Thinking (Learning Logs): I feel my website is rather clear and concise, however, I do feel I need to be much more critical regarding my own work. Again, I think I need to use my questionnaires to prompt me to remember the types of things I should be passing comment on. I have found, however, that when I create a piece, if I take a photograph of it and leave it for a day or so, I am then able to see it with fresh eyes and pick out the areas which need improvement. Somehow, the piece being seen as a photograph really does assist me in considering which areas need to be changed and where I am going wrong!

Assignment 4

For this exercise, I decided to break the three sections up and carry out some preparatory work for each from some of the earlier exercises within this Part of the course and from the Unit as a whole, including the following:

  • Fabric and form;
  • Proportions;
  • Foreshortening;
  • Lighting;
  • Positive and negative space;
  • Mediums and surfaces;
  • Quick Sketches.

Upright Seated Model in Line:

Preparatory work

I began this section by taking a photograph of my model, who I had sat to the right of a lamp, which draped him in light on his left side and shadow to his right. Remembering that this piece was to be created in line, I focussed first on the fabric of his T-shirt, the proportions of his arms and the foreshortening of the fingers and lower arms. I then moved on to playing with the light and dark areas of the model and then the positive and negative spaces in the piece, which I also found helped with establishing the proportions correctly. I tried to consider which of the previous artists’ works that I have researched would suit this piece most and how I could incorporate the ideas found through replicating their work previously. I then had a little play in my sketchbook with several different surfaces and mediums, as well as creating several quick (and very rough!) sketches before settling on one final decision as to what would work best.

Final Piece

Seated Model in Line – Final Piece

I decided from my preparatory work that my strongest options for this specific piece, including the size, were to use acrylic markers due to their flexibility and malleability. I also decided against using any form of preparation to my chosen surface (A1 cartridge paper) to allow me to focus solely on the task at hand, having never done this before, so as not to distract me or clutter the piece and to potentially revisit and explore this area more in the fifth part of the course when I have more flexibility.

I was able to move expressively and still create a good line drawing. The piece does not look truly like my model, but I think I have been rather successful in showing the lighter and darker areas of the piece purely in line, as well as also being able to stay very expressive. I enjoyed this piece very much, however, do think there are areas I could have done better on, such as the eyes being too close together and the face too elongated. I am pleased with the outcome of the black and silver pens together and feel they help to create a sense of depth within the piece.

Upon reflection, I do think the model’s left hand could be somewhat more detailed, but I found this difficult when there wasn’t hardly any detail to be seen due to the glare from the lamp’s light. There is not much of a likeness to my model at all in this piece, however, this was not my main focus; my focus was on trying to achieve an accuracy in proportions within the body as a whole, as well as the creases and folds and areas of darkness and lightness within the piece as a whole, which I think I have somewhat been able to replicate. I thoroughly enjoy working in line, however, I do not think it the best option solely for me due to the cartoon-like appearance which I do not really seem able to shake so far.

Once again, I believe I was able to try and keep all of the expressive markings within the outline of the figure, however, I do feel I need to be willing to allow myself to leave some of these areas free of line to trick the viewer’s mind’s eye into seeing what isn’t actually there.

Reclining Model in Tone

Preparatory Work

I then moved on to my reclining model and, again, being limited for inspiration, had to capture my husband (once again!) unawares whilst lounging on one of our sofas. As can be seen from the photographs, the light source was artificial and from above the bottom end of the sofa. There was also some artificial light falling on his hands and face from his mobile phone which was in his hands. Again, I worked through some experiments with foreshortening, positive and negative space and the fabric and form seen, as well as the mediums and surfaces to potentially use for my final piece, as well as reconsidering the methods used by some of the artists I had previously researched.

Final Piece

Reclining Model in Tone – Final Piece

Overall, I am rather torn with this piece. On one hand, I had so much fun creating the depth and pressures with the charcoal, whereas, on the other hand, I could hear my tutor’s comments relating to ‘overworking’ and ‘less is more’ reverberating around my mind! Considering it is a leather sofa, I think it appears that my husband is draped in fabric and that I have created the same issues I created in my first assignment piece, where I have treated everything the same – the cushions behind his head are not really distinguishable from the sofa and so on. I do not think the perspective is very accurate either with the foreshortening of the sofa needing some work. However, on a plus note, I actually rather like the definition of light and dark within the piece, as well as the folds in my husband’s clothes and the accuracy of the proportions of his body. I think I must definitely try and come up with some way of restricting the pressure applied by my hand!

Self-Portrait in Line and Tone

Preparatory Work

Once again, I carried out the preliminary experimentation within my sketchbook, having reconsidered some

Final Piece

This was by far my favourite piece to have completed so far throughout the whole of this course. Knowing I would have to work over two hours and how fast I am able to create pieces, I decided I really needed to slow this piece down. I had already worked in both acrylic markers and charcoal for this assignment and because I was free to choose the size of this piece, I settled on A2 and black biro. Again, I decided to work from a photograph and grid system for the base layer and proportions, but then worked from a mirror for the tone and depth aspects. Later, I decided to add a slight touch of charcoal in places to create a slightly more believable depth and darkness to the tonal areas, due to this piece focussing on both line and tone.

Once again, I think the nose has been somewhat unsuccessful to my actual right side as I have overworked the shading in this area. I was unable to draw this back in any way without ruining the piece, so I left it and decided there was nothing more I could do for this section.

I had positioned myself by a window so that natural light would fall across my right-hand side and also chose to pull a shocked face to lead the viewer to question why I am looking in that direction, what has surprised me and what could be in the light etc.

As stated above, this is by far my favourite piece to have made as I think I have been able to listen to my tutor’s advice of not overworking the piece, keeping an ‘outline’, but being expressive within and using different pressures to create different tonal ranges. The hair took the longest time by far, however, I think I have managed to do it justice in the majority and have been able to indicate a change in direction of the hairs, showing a ‘wind-swept’ positioning.

Part 4: Project 6: The Head

Exercise 1: Facial Features

Considering these features include a lot of detail, I actually rather enjoyed certain areas of this exercise. I thoroughly enjoyed recreating the eyes, for example. My favourite by far is the charcoal study in the bottom left-hand corner. With this, I tried to focus more on the different patches of tone as opposed to concentrating on the line.

I think the charcoal works best for me for a lot of areas, including the nose, ear and hair. I like the results in the conte sticks, however, I found this medium much harder to manipulate.

The black biro pieces have been effective as I think the medium allows me to use line to show depth and definition, giving weight to the sketches purely by bending the lines to suit my purpose. I think this has been very apparent in the ear, mouth and nose sketches. I think the biro also allows me to indicate the individual hairs in the eye brows.

I decided to create the study of the shapes of the face in black biro too as I find this medium the best for finer lines but whilst still being able to be expressive with the line markings. The head looks rather bulbous and unrealistic, but I think the general shapes will really help me when trying to remember them in my studies.

Research Point: Depictions of the Face throughout History

Please click here to view my findings for this piece of research.

Exercise 2: Your Own Head

Initial Studies of Own Features

Before I began making sketches of my face as a final piece for the exercise, I decided to recreate the previous exercise but this time looking at my own features before trying to create a piece as a whole. I decided to create quick studies of my eye, nose and lips as these are the key features which would be seen in my pieces. I also decided to create these studies in charcoal as I trusted myself much better with this media and knew the outcomes would probably be the best result of all media available to me as I could manipulate it at will; rubbing areas out simply or smudging to show slight shadows on the skin.

I was rather pleased with the outcomes of the studies and do think I was able to stay rather light-handed with the end results. I am most pleased with the study of the eye as I think I have managed to capture a rather true likeness and a good balance of contrast in the tonal range of the eyebrow, iris, pupil and then the lighter areas of skin and the nose. I think I may have been slightly too heavy-handed with the bridge of the nose and the tones of the lips, but I am generally pleased with the outcome.

Quick Biro Sketch of Own Head

Quick Biro Sketch of Own Head

For this exercise, I tried to barely look at the paper, but to stay focussed on my reflection in the mirror. Whilst I think there is no real resemblance to me, I am not too bothered about that really as I was more focussed on trying to draw what I saw as opposed to a true representation. I think overall I have elongated the face, the nose is too much of an oblong shape and the chin too small in comparison to the other features of the face. There was a bit of foreshortening through the mirror, with the top of my head being closer and the chin slightly further away, but I do not think I have conveyed this accurately enough.

Quick Charcoal Sketch of Own Head

Quick Charcoal Sketch of Own Head

Again, I looked through a mirror but changed the angle slightly so the foreshortening was more pronounced and clearer to see, as well as the medium used. I think this piece was much more successful than the biro and that I have been able to keep all of the features rather accurate this time, however, I think the mouth is slightly too ‘forward-facing’ to be fully accurate. The charcoal was great for creating a lot of hair very quickly and is most definitely my favourite medium for quicker studies.

Longer Charcoal Sketch of Own Head

LArger Sketch of Own Head in Charcoal

I then decided to slow things down and do a piece from a photograph of myself, using my grid system and using controlled pressures thoughout to try and achieve different tonal ranges.

I am extremely pleased with this piece and do not think I have overworked the piece at all – for a change! I think I have been rather successful in trying to make the nose believable, since this was the hardest part to do so in the features exercise. Whilst the other two sketches weren’t visually accurate, I think this piece is, although I do think there are some areas I could have improved; the nostrils appear somewhat crooked and the chin line should be more blended as opposed to so defined. I think I have managed to capture my eyes rather well. I think I could also have added a little more shadow to the neck to create depth as I think it looks somewhat flat.

Overall, this has by far been my favourite piece to create and as an end result, to date.

Research Point: Self-Portraits throughout History

Please click here to view my findings for this piece of research.

Exercise 3: Portrait from Memory or the Imagination

For this exercise, I tried to work with four different media; biro, charcoal, conte stick and acrylic markers and to create sketches from my imagination.

I didn’t really enjoy this exercise as much as others as I don’t really enjoy the imagination aspect and much prefer working in a realistic manner and from an actual subject, whether it be physical or via photographs.

Looking at the sketches, whilst I did try to mix it up a little, I think I somehow managed to create four very similar images. I think I was able to get the features in proportion rather well and, whilst they do not look like anyone in particular, I think the separate features do work rather well together, but appear somewhat caricature-like in places.

The features I found the hardest to recreate realistically were the lips and the flesh of the cheeks, as I think is apparent in all of the sketches. The lips appear too bulbous and the flesh not defined enough or evenly stretched.

I think the fourth sketch is by far my favourite and appears the most realistic of all. I enjoyed working with two colours (black and silver) to create the piece and feel they work well to create a sense of depth by just using line. I think I will consider this method for my assignment piece where I am to create an image in line.

I created the biro sketch in the style of Chalhoub, whose work I have recently looked at. I thoroughly enjoyed creating the sketch and liked the fact I was using several different coloured pens to create the depth in the piece, but also how there wasn’t much need for specific emphasis to the features within the piece, however, I did decide to add much more detail than the other artist as it just felt right to me to do so for my own piece.