Drawing 1: Part one: Formative feedback: Synopsis

A very quick turnaround on comments on Part one from my tutor, which is very welcome as I dive into Part two. 

Overall:  ‘worked hard to produce a good range of project exercises, some of which show more potential than your final piece.’ Specific points:

·         need to consider shadows, particularly at the base of objects to ground them

·         keep varying weight and length of line to keep pieces active

·         charcoal is more suited to larger studies in general

·         need to consider collage as part of composition, not an afterthought

·         (continue to) use sketchbook ‘fully as a place to explore, experiment and take risks using a good range of media.’

·         continue to build on learning log (insightful and reflective), keep artists’ biographical information to a minimum.

Suggestions for further research:

·         Jenny Saville (use of charcoal in her Mother and Child series)

·         Jerwood Drawing prize website for the online catalogue of past exhibitors, which will give a good insight into current concerns in drawing

·         Henry Moore drawings (exploration of tone)

·         Graham Southerland (range of media – ink, gouache and pastel)

·         Kiki Smith (range of techniques, including frottage)

·         William Kentridge (charcoal drawings – expressive mark making)

For next assignment: ‘resist the temptation to tighten up too much; use a wide range of materials and drawing techniques.  Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – important insights and discoveries come about through this process.’ 

My response:

This is a fair and balanced review and I look forward to taking on board the comments and exploring the work of the artists and information suggested.  I knew my final piece for Assignment one was weak and muddled, but I learned a lot from doing it which I reflected in my self-assessment.  Going forward I will aim to:

·         explore more with mark-making and use of media (particularly in sketchbook);

·         not get so stressed and tight with the final Assignments and remember to apply learning and plan well (including composition and choice of media);

·         enjoy myself.

Drawing 1: Part 1: Reflection on Progress

HE4 Assessment criteria:  Drawing 1, Assignment 1:  Janet Davies

Self-assessment against criteria:  19th November 2016

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

Materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills.

I have a theoretical awareness of a range of media, approaches, and techniques and am gaining confidence in using them, but need to continue practising with more consistency – particularly in my sketchbooks.  I am reasonably competent with observational and visual awareness – I can certainly see when things look wrong.  I don’t always take the time to adjust them though.  I must admit I mostly rely on instinct when it comes to composition, so I am looking forward to thinking and studying more about this in Part 2 of the course.

Quality of outcome

Content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, with discernment.

I am a little limited in the subject matter I draw.  I have only forayed outside once and haven’t attempted people with clothes on (!).  The subject matter I have presented I hope has shown some thought and that this has come across.  I can be a little lazy though – not a natural completer-finisher.  I know I need to work on that.

Demonstration of creativity

Imagination, experimentation, invention, personal voice.

My head has been buzzing with ideas doing the first part of Assignment 1.  But this has generally been fairly unfocussed, and hasn’t always translated into my work – particularly the Assignment.  I am more inclined to experiment when guided to do so, such as in the Morley Drawing class I attend, and I always come away from these energised.  I just need to try out things more when I get home.  I am not a natural experimenter just for the sake of it, but I do love solving problems so this helps with lateral thinking.


Reflection, research (learning logs).

Reflecting on what I have seen and produced in a formalised way is new for me.  I certainly spend more time in art galleries really looking at things than I have ever done before.  It is definitely adding a richness to my experiences and learning.  I am starting to make the link between the work of other artists and my own, which I am reflecting in my blog.  Research is where I am more comfortable and I use a range of media, aiming to not just rely on the internet.

My blog is well structured and I have aimed to cover a range of theoretical and practical activities.  I have an inclination to over-research and analyse (I haven’t put everything on my blog) and this can stop me from experimenting and taking time to apply the learning/ideas.    But I am genuinely excited about ideas and approaches of other artists, and I love process, I know I now just need to follow this through in my own work.

Drawing 1: Assignment one: Final drawing and reflection

For my still life I wanted to pick some objects that had connections to my mother.  I chose a sewing basket that she bought me when I was young, and added a plate which I had bought her, but is now with me, that reflects our love of gardening and in particular my mother’s fondness of lilacs.

Figure 1.  If at first you don’t succeed …  .  Pencil, oil pastel, ink, watercolour, and collage on watercolour paper.  A3.

[Sorry this is more than a paragraph:  things got complicated]

I struggled with the composition in a number of ways – shapes, relationships, colours, trying to find an interesting angle.  I did a number of photos (they skew the perspective) and thumbnails in my sketchbook but in the end this didn’t work that well as the shape of the thumbnails didn’t match the ratio of my drawing paper so things were all off.

Then when I started on the drawing it seemed too cramped (I was aiming for intimate) and there was a space in the middle with nothing happening in it – and I still didn’t know what to do about colour.  Also, while trying to get tone I went much too dark for the sentiment of the piece which was supposed to be reflective and calm – the drawing I had done looked a bit too sombre. And in trying to get some liveliness in the piece it just looked careless to me.   The basket effect, which I achieved by frottage, was the only thing I liked.

In short – poorly planned and therefore not the result I wanted.  So I decided to start again with a different approach – much more subtle lines and shading, and delicate colouring (perhaps watercolour?).  After much faffing, and even more thumbnail sketches, I started a very careful line drawing in a very fine pencil taking care to get everything exactly right.  After much looking and agonising I decided to take a break and start drafting my reflections for sending with the Assignment and blog to my tutor – I thought I would just put the headings down but I started filling bits in reflecting on what I had done so far.

When I had finished writing I realised that what I was doing with this Assignment was exactly what I said in my reflections:

  • I have an inclination to over-research and analyse … and this can stop me from experimenting and taking time to apply the learning/ideas.
  • I can be a little lazy though – not a natural completer-finisher. I know I need to work on that.
  • I am not a natural experimenter just for the sake of it, but I do love solving problems.

So I had a word with myself and picked up the first drawing and attempted to solve its problems and finish it.  So I:

  • lightened some of the tone a bit by rubbing back (not rubbing out);
  • added some collage (photo of actual packaging printed off and cut up) to fill a void in composition (wanted to get some text in – see Sketchbook and Juan Gris etc);
  • took a lead from the colour of the collage (a pinky-blue) and added some of these colours (watercolour indigo and rose) to other parts of the drawing to pull it together;
  • I was going to cut the right hand side of the paper off (because I got the measuring wrong) but I decided to make it a border (a la Vanessa Bell (Morley Drawing)) and I think it balances the piece anyway.

So in the end, this is not the drawing that I aimed to make, and I wouldn’t hang it on my wall, but I have learned a lot – planning properly being the main one.  My mother would be proud.