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.