Reflection on formative feedback – Part 2
You have produced an interesting and varied range of project exercises that
demonstrate a confident handing of a range of media. Most of these studies work better than your final piece. Your sketchbook and learning log need to be developed further to support and enhance your progress…..
……I have had to be quite negative about your final piece but there is enough evidence elsewhere in this assignment, that you are developing good drawing skills and a more confident handling of media. Keep building on this and develop a greater awareness of tonal values.
The feedback I received on Part 2 was interesting, encouraging and the basis for more work ahead.
Positive comments and encouragements included:
“Still life using line….the charcoal study of the vase of flowers and the Raoul Dufy inspired piece….have an energy and sense of movement through variation of mark making and fluidity. For the charcoal piece you are exploring the qualities of the medium and combining direct, expressive marks with more delicate areas. Similar techniques are being employed for the ink study”
“Still life in tone. Your still life using pastel is vibrant and on the whole you have handled the media well, keeping the colour clean and intense…..It would be good to see you try and retain the vibrancy of colour but be more mindful of tonal contrasts”
“Mixed Media. Aspects of this study work very well – the eggs and lemons in the blue basket are well rendered with a convincing sense of surface texture and confident handling of mixed media. The two lemons in the foreground are also very sensitively executed, again with a subtle surface texture achieved through carefully combining media. There is no overworking here“
“Monochrome……There is potential here and I do like the area of repeated linear
detail behind the eggs …..I think your challenge might be to combine your interest in materials and mark making with more rigorous observational drawing skills – making more quick sketches and really looking at the subject”
“Material differences. Your study of the living room does work quite well in terms of composition and where you use colour it has an intensity that almost appears to glow. This is emphasised further by the contrasting black pen marks”
I thoroughly enjoyed this part of the course especially the still lifes and experimented with media that I had never previously used or used very little, so I was pleased with the above comments. I have highlighted (in bold) the strengths that I must enhance further by more experimentation/practice in the following exercises and in my sketchbooks. One very important point which was stated in the mixed media study was that I had not overworked the piece – whereas I personally thought I had gone too far! There is always a very fine line with overworking and sometimes it is personal taste, but a general theme throughout the feedback was a reliance on line and a general lack of tonal contrast (see negative feedback below) – for me it may also be a fear of overworking!
Negative feedback and improvements required:
“Still life using line…Instead of over emphasising the outline with black, try varying the tone more to include more darker shades of colour“
“Still life in tone…..The overall effect is rather decorative, especially as the effect of the flowers against the background becomes almost like a flat pattern, due to the tones being so close“
“Monochrome…… More careful observation would have helped you describe the form – the bowl doesn’t look quite accurate and again, there is a lack of shadow at it’s base”
“Material differences….outlines should not not be relied upon too much. There can be a tendency to get a little bit lazy with mark making when using pen because it gives such an immediately satisfying quality of line. For instance, the lines around the sofa or those used to describe the curtains – they are quite fluid and expressive but at the same time, they do sit on the surface a little. Like I say, overall this is quite a good drawing but I am mentioning outline again, not because I want you to stop using it but because I don’t want it to be used at the expense of tone where that would be more effective. This is an interesting area for you to work with as you continue – exploring tonal variation rather than containing/describing objects with outline”
“Final piece. I have to say this is probably the least successful drawing that you have produced for this assignment……Overall, this drawing lacks coherence and depth due to a very limited tonal range and a lot of slightly fussy detail that has not been rendered with the sensitivity you have demonstrated in previous studies. It is a very complicated arrangement and you have tried to describe the different aspects with a range of media – this has led to some overworking. Oil pastel can be quite crude and difficult to manipulate, particularly on this scale and with this amount of detail.
A lack of definition and contrast means that it is actually slightly confusing and difficult to read…..It is important to remember to keep looking at your subject and notice all the subtleties without taking anything for granted. If you want to make another study of this arrangement, I suggest you just look at a section of it and crop it, make a larger piece of work in pencil, ink or watercolour. Keep the colour vibrant and remember tonal contrast”
After finishing Assignment 2, I realised that working from a poorly lit photograph (no excuse as I have previously studied photography to NVQ4 level!!) and working directly from a computer screen to paper in the evening in my study was not a good method of working. In looking at the arrangement first hand with my own eyes it was clear that the lighting needed to be improved and direct sketches made to use on the final piece. I had also decided on a composition without fully exploring the potential of the subject/s being included – an element that had already been studied during the previous exercises! It is therefore important to note that a successful outcome relies on a considered combination of many elements – subject matter/context, feeling/mood, tonal contrast (well lit subject), expressive use of line, texture, composition, appropriate use of colour, among other considerations…..very much like conducting an orchestra but playing all the instruments at the same time solo! This requires more concentration, practice, experimentation and commitment.
Rework of Assignment 2
An important message from within the feedback was the importance of tonal contrast, so I referred to the section on tonal scales in Experimental Drawing and practiced a little before reworking the assignment:
I needed to think more on composition and tonal contrast, and also about the lighting of the subject and if using a photo to work from – to use a good quality print.
The following two pieces were completed from good quality photos taken with good directional lighting – the first in charcoal working from a dark tone and erasing to find the lighter tones, then finally recovering the very dark tones. The composition was a close crop of two of the bears in the original study.
Whilst this drawing included a full range of tones, the drawing is flat because I studied the tones and not form!
In this drawing I used colour and achieved a greater sense of depth and form using tone. I started by building up the tones first and then added the lines. I finished by achieving a greater range of tone using bold ink for the hats and shadows and then increased the tonal range of reds and yellows. This was a much more succesful drawing but my ink mark making was a little restrained due to my fear of making a mistake on top of my tonal background! I still have a lot of practicing ahead to gain more confidence in using a full range of tones together with expressive mark making.
Sketchbooks and learning log
These are major areas for me to improve particularly the use of sketchbooks in general exploration/experimentation of media and compositional studies. I need to use the sketchbook to develop an idea to a final piece – clearly showing my inspiration and thought processes.
Critical review of artists and art should include digging deeper into my own thoughts and reflections…..and to ensure that my written research also investigates different ideas and processes employed by a wide range of artists.
“Look at the drawings, etchings and watercolours of contemporary painter George
Shaw. He is more famous for his paintings in enamel but his monochrome works depict an eerie sense of alienation within the landscape.
Also look at the variety of mark making in the abstract drawings by Julie Mehretu and
the angular and expressive quality of line in the work of Egon Schiele. Claude Heath
makes drawings that have an active, energetic quality that might inspire you to explore a more animated approach.”