My tutor provided a very helpful report on Part 3, suggesting that the work presented demonstrated ‘good development in your drawing’ and that I should be pleased with progress so far, which made me pleased indeed.
Feedback on assignment
With respect to the criteria for the course – Demonstration of technical and visual skills, quality of outcome and demonstration of creativity – the comments were as follows (“in italics”) followed by my response:
“Overall, you have shown good understanding of composition and perspective throughout this part of the course. You have framed and positioning your subjects well within the page, an indication of good visual awareness, and the inclusion of borders shows good planning, organisation, and care for your work.”
I was very pleased with this comment, particularly as one of the comments from last time were that the objects I drew were ‘floating in air’ and appeared unattached to the surroundings or context, so I had tried hard not to do that this time.
“There is an interesting relationship between your precise sketching, particularly of architecture, and the contrast with more fluid media and gestural mark making, within your drawing of trees and nature. As you move forward, consider how you can synthesise to greater effect the relationship between these different approaches, mixing and contrasting the different methods to build marks and layers of texture into your drawing.”
I found this an interesting observation, and one I had not thought about. Although in the drawing of New York and also my final assignment I had deliberate used different media and/or colours for the natural and man-made objects, I had not thought about the fact that the way I drew these two categories was different – and I can see it would be a good idea to develop this in further work.
“Your ‘Expanse’ work captures the perspective of the scene well, drawing my attention through the landscape downstream. The reflection of the trees in the water creates a very calm and still atmosphere. This is slightly jarred by the contrasting materials and colours of the tree, which appear proportionally accurate but out of balances in terms of texture and colour. The combination of pencil, pastel and elements of watercolour is working well, but I encourage you to use these materials with more conviction and confidence to generate a wider range of tonal qualities. You have created an effective sense of perspective in your final assignment work and balanced your materials in very slight and careful ways. Your preparatory work has supported the development of your ideas with composition, with the final outcome being well considered and thought out.”
These comments point to a couple of things that I had observed, but had been unsure how to remedy. I realised that I was somewhat nervous and cautious doing the assignment (in comparison to the preparatory work, particularly after having thought about it so much, and was too timid with the ideas I had about materials and colours. I seem to have used pencil and soluble graphite for the tree so as not to create a discordant element – but I see now that I have done just that by using a neutral medium. I hope I can correct it before sending for final assessment, as well as perhaps emphasizing further some of the colours and tones that I have used in the rest of the drawing.
“Much of your preparatory work has strong tonal contrast and a wider spectrum of colours. The final outcome appears more reserved in contrast. Consider spending a little more time on this work, adding definition around the architectural elements, and creating a greater sense of depth through the tonal contrast of fore, mid and back-ground.”
Again, the difference between the final piece and the preparatory work – hastily done to test out one aspect – has come from an excess of timidity and caution in approaching the final assignment. I will try to spend some more time on it and emphasize the contrasts for the final assessment.
“Both your larger works for this assignment have created some interesting relationships between elements of nature and the man-made environment. Both elements appear to be competing for space in your Image, creating a powerful juxtaposition between natural form and architectural shapes. Such subject matter could be a fruitful area for you to explore further in future parts, developing on from the successes you have shown here.”
I agree that this is something I could emphasize, perhaps by looking for more images like Central Park, where the contrast between nature and the built environment is so stark (Park Lane/Hyde Park is an obvious example, but I wonder if I might find something in Oxford, although the colleges of the University are all so manicured the natural parts in many seem almost manmade.
“Your drawing for exercise 3.2 captures the scale of the scene really well. The sense of depth and the height of the buildings in the background creates a dramatic perspective. The soft tone of the buildings in the background contrast really well with the sharp jagged black form of the trees in the foreground. The addition of the collaged figure is playful, and scales the image, but I wonder why this was not drawn. Experiment with more collage in future work, but try to unite with your other methods, blending it in with your drawing and mark making in more integrated ways.”
I used the photograph for the figure, rather than drawing it because I knew that being in the foreground it should be detailed and that this would take me a long time and would frustrate me, and distract from the main work. But if I had integrated it more into the drawing, for example through colouring or shading it in the same medium as that part of the drawing, that might have worked as suggested. I will try in the future, although obviously not with the human figure for Part 4 as this is the topic of study.
“You have shown an excellent command and understanding of perspective throughout your assignment work and within your sketchbook studies.”
I am so happy to read these comments about perspective, because this is something I used to struggle with hugely – and have tried really hard to overcome in this Part, reading about it and watching videos. I do feel that at last I understand some if not all of the principles, but I still need to study more, for example, I am still unsure how to get railings right in terms of the distance between the vertical elements.
“As mentioned, much of your preparatory work appears more confident and creative than your larger outcomes. There is a conviction and energy with your mark making here which I encourage you to try to hold onto when working on larger pieces.”
I need to do more large pieces, to overcome the fear of them. I have already started to do this in Part 4, using large paper for the life drawing classes.
For ‘demonstration of technical and visual skills’ and demonstration of creativity’:
“Your sketchbook work demonstrates a good range of technical and visual skills. You have explored drawing and mark making with various materials and subject matter. I encourage you to seize on the successes of your sketchbook work and focus on developing ideas through more repetition and experimentation.”
I will try to do this – I have bought the book Experimental Drawing, by Robert Kaupels, and intend to try to do some of the exercises, although time is always a challenge for me.
“As you move forward, use your sketchbook for more exploratory methods to drawing, testing your abilities and confidence with materials through experimentation and to develop more complex layered and textured surfaces. Using collage and mixed media for example, may open up some interesting directions for you.”
I will try to use mixed media more, although I am not in general a fan of collage, have always been resistant to the use of 3 dimensional objects on the surface in pictures (to look at I mean, I have never tried to do it), but I will look for opportunities.
“Throughout your sketchbook I encourage you to reflect a little more on your progress, adding additional annotation that narrates your journey through the exercises, including notes and titles relating to the course material. Comment on your successes and areas you want to develop further in note form, with more detailed analysis and evaluation in your learning log.”
Up until now I have put nearly all the comment and areas for development in the learning log, rather than the sketch book. I will try to make more notes there, particularly with regard to any techniques that I use.
For criteria ‘Reflective thinking, critical thinking and analysis’
“You continue to write well about the research points and offer good insight into a variety of practices. Your analysis balances factual information alongside your own observations. You demonstrate good visual awareness and reflective thinking and it’s great to see the contextual element of your studies influencing your practical work.”
I am glad that this is more or less the right balance between factual information and my own observations, because I wasn’t’ sure how to approach this. As an academic, I research and write all the time, so I am very practiced at expressing myself in this way, but I am not at all familiar with writing in the context of fine art or even the humanities more broadly, so I am on a learning curve.
“It would be good to hear more of your thoughts on this relationship between context and practice in your learning. For example, you mention ‘ I†added†some†reeds†in†the foreground¨†drawing†on†Peter†Doig†’, but could you explain further how you are influenced by Doig more directly?, is it a formal similarity or something more conceptual?”
I spent a lot of time thinking about this assignment piece, and clearly became so immersed that I did not realise I had not explained what I mean here. In the blog post on Doig, I referenced the painting where he covers the whole painting with a stylised version of the undergrowth, as if you were seeing the painting through the undergrowth.
I was not brave enough to do this with my assignment, but I thought one way of doing this drawing would be to draw the reeds all over the front of the page. In fact in one of the canoe pictures he has reeds like this, although here they are at the back – so I was taking ideas from two Doig paintings here. In general though, Doig quite often seems to take a natural element of the painting and let it run wild, and this is what I was thinking about doing – but clearly did not implement. In the end, as I discussed in the Learning Log – the final image was more Ravilious than Doig.
Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays
Context, reflective†thinking, critical thinking, analysis
For ‘Reflective thinking, critical thinking and analysis’
“You have included citation within your written reflection, using the Harvard referencing system, although I couldn’t find some links to websites and image references. This isn’t a big issue, as in the most part you’re referencing is fine, but please refer to the link below for exact guidance on how UCA/OCA expect referencing to be formatted. You don’t need to go back over your work but I do recommend adhering to this format as you progress on your next course unit.”
(example from the UCA on harvard referencing a website)
petrifiedprozac [reply] (2009) Jonathan Jones on Art [online blog] In: guardian.co.uk
in-drawings-white-cube?commentpage=3 (Accessed on 16.05.09).
Thank you, I will do this – in the social sciences we reference newspaper articles rather differently, but I will try to do it this way.
Below is a list of artists based on my observations of your work so far and the context of the forthcoming part. If you discover points of interest write reflection accordingly in your learning log,
Thank you, I will look at these.
Pointers for the next assignment
- Continue as you are and experiment more with the boundaries of drawing, testing new combinations of materials and trying new techniques.
- Consider the relationship between representation and abstraction within your work, and explore the potential these contrasts have to generate inventive compositions.
- Collate a list of artists/artworks/contextual influence, which you find most exciting, summarising your reasons and drawing connections to your own practice.
- Start to think about key subject matter that you are interested in and begin developing your ideas with sketchbook work during part 4, towards the independent part 5.
- Write a reflection on this report in your learning log with a short piece of writing summarising the main points.
- Please inform me of how you would like your next report, written or video/audio.
- As a side note, your work was extremely well boxed for delivery, but arguably over packaged and the OCA size recommendations. If sending work in the future let me know beforehand, so we can discuss this.
Sorry about that, I will use a smaller box next time – it was the recommendation of MailBoxes, but I can see that brown paper – rather than a box – would probably have been better.