I have received helpful and specific feedback from my tutor for Assignment 2 and the Exercises. I am grateful for these as I sent her all my exercises as I misread the guidance which said to send a selection.
To summarise I need to build on good progress by being bolder with textures, line and tonal contrast. Vary pressure when using dry materials. Continue experimenting, particularly with layering and use of fluid media. Balance cool colours with warmer shades when working in colour. Try and loosen up and be more expressive in final pieces (as with sketchbooks). Get a watercolour sketchbook. Artists to look at: Kathe Kollwitz; Henry Moore; Graham Sutherland; Paul Nash; William Kentridge. Recommended reading on Picasso: ‘Guernica, The Biography of a Twentieth Century Icon’ by Gijs Van Hensbergen.
I also asked for feedback on composition as this wasn’t mentioned in the report. Generally my pieces are balanced, but I can tend to put too much content in some drawings.
I have been away for three weeks and looked at my pieces with fresh eyes on my return. I can absolutely see every point my tutor makes having had that distance. I am still at the stage where I am a little tentative as I don’t want to “spoil” what I have achieved. Still, all good learning and I am looking forward to tackling Part 3 (except for the scary sections on perspective!)
For this drawing I returned to my quick sketches around the house (Project 3: exercise 1) for inspiration. It occurred to me that a number of them included pictures by other artists, and I decided to continue with that theme (see notes on Exercise 3 Material Differences). I particularly like the large David Hockney print I have in the kitchen. It has interesting shapes, marks and colours. My aim was to set up a still life that would harmonise with this print. I invested in a few lovely tulips that picked up some of the colours in the print, and a few other items that were in the kitchen where I could see I could tie in some of the colours.
I decided to use pastels again. I had used them for the first time for Still life in tone using colour (Project 2 Exercise 3) with some (limited) success. I looked again at the video I had noted and also obtained Pastels for Dummies from the library. I am afraid I am not one for diving in and experimenting, and time was tight so I wanted to get some tips. I did think about mixing in another medium but was nervous that I wouldn’t get it right, and I didn’t have enough time to experiment properly.
Drawing on my learning from Exercise 3 I did a few larger sketches (A5) to get ideas for composition (Fig. 1.).
Additionally, because I had problems before with tone/shadows because of changing light, I took a photo of the outline drawing – then did a tonal study on this which I could use for a reference (Fig. 3.). This was very useful.
I fixed the drawing half way through after 2 layers. Then fixed again after final marks. This dulled the picture a bit but I am sending this to my tutor so guidance advises to fix.
I am fairly happy with the outcome (Fig. 3). The composition is conventional, but I think the added interest of the Hockney print makes it more interesting. I have aimed to link the colours across the piece which I think works well. I have used different techniques to get a variety of marks – blending some areas; short marks and longer flowing marks. My tonal drawing helped me identify the tone more easily – though I probably could have pushed them further. My accuracy is good – the objects look the right shape. I could probably have worked more layers of pastel but as I am fairly new to this medium I didn’t want to push it too far and lose what I had achieved. There isn’t a great deal of creativity here but it’s given me confidence to use pastels again combined with other media.
Self-assessment against criteria: January 2017
Demonstration of technical and visual skills
Materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills.
I am starting to use a broader range of materials, though I don’t feel I am stretching myself on techniques. I think my observational skills are improving – more consistent sketching practise is helping. I still get phased by detail when looking at a complicated scene (e.g. a bookshelf full of books) – need to work out a way of delivering a “short-hand” version to keep drawings loose. I am still fairly conservative on design, and rely mostly on cropping for my compositions. I need to study the approaches of other artists more to open myself up to fresh ideas.
Quality of outcome
Content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, with discernment.
I am aiming to present more complete drawings in the exercises – with attention to composition; tone; use of media; and varied mark-making. I think I have been somewhat successful, if a little tentative. I can see now the benefits of preliminary work before I dive into a final piece. My better drawings (in my view) are those where I have explored more in my sketchbook beforehand – trying out techniques, ideas and compositions. And even if the final drawing has short-comings, I realise that the sketchbook work is a useful learning process – and can spark new ideas.
Demonstration of creativity
Imagination, experimentation, invention, personal voice.
I have started to experiment a little more, but know I could push myself further. This course is changing my perception of what drawing is – it’s much broader than I thought it was – and I know I need to embrace that more fully.
I very much enjoyed the mixed media exercise – just wish I had worked larger than A4. I enjoyed the spontaneity of making images from my imagination much more than I thought I would.
I am using new drawing materials but still feel the need to get to grips with technique before exploring multi-media, unusual perspectives etc. I also think I have collage phobia after Assignment 1. Every Exercise I do I say to myself “try collage” – then I draw a blank.
I don’t recognise that I have a very strong personal voice (I am sure it’s in there somewhere). I still feel as if I am a little un-focused, but I think that’s OK at this stage. I remind myself I am only 4 months into this new way of working (for me). I am enjoying exploring and learning.
Reflection, research (learning logs)
I have found time tight on this Section (holidays didn’t help) and I think my research and reflection has suffered as I was concentrating on getting the drawing exercises done. I do regularly attend exhibitions and make notes, but I am aware that I need to make more use of this in developing my own work. But I do think it does go in, even if subliminally. I am more conscious of how artists work and their use of mark-making, and have noted this at the Picasso portrait exhibition and the drawings and work of Henry Moore at Tate Britain.
I am enjoying reading a number of books as a background to my studies, particularly Gilda Williams’ How to Write about Contemporary Art and Theodore Gracyk’s The Philosophy of Art which have given me new insights into how art is conceptualised and written about.