Assignment 2 Feedback

Assignment 2 Feedback

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.

Suggested reading/viewing

“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.”



Part 2 Intimacy

Part 2 Intimacy

Assignment 2 – Still life

During the work making sketches around my home I noticed a particular subject that I wanted to explore – in our lounge dresser we have a collection of souvenirs/presents from around the world – China, Russia, England, Spain and Chile.

I was also interested in using the idea of a large group of objects as the subject – similar to some of the tables of objects painted by John Bratby – see featured image above (John Bratby. Still life with chip frier, 1954 – detail).

I also wanted to use bold colours – so I explored the use of oil pastel blended/worked with white spirit, and incorporate soft pencil (and line work) also blended with white spirit – to demonstrate use of colour in drawing, accurate and expressive depiction of form, and a range of mark making with contrasts in line, tone, texture and form.

I took many photos of the subject at different angles and because this drawing would be made over several days, I decided to work from photos displayed on my large computer screen – this also meant that I could work at any time of day. The initial exploration/experimentation worked well and I already had an idea of what I wanted in respect of composition…


I then laid out the initial drawing using a 6B pencil and whitespirit…

Then colour was added using oil pastel/6Bpencil…

When I reach what I felt was enough colour, I then reworked the lines and added deeper shadows.

My final drawing….

Souvenirs and presents. Oil pastel and pencil on A2 250g mixed media paper.


Assignment 2

The use of colour in drawing: During the course of Part 2 and in particular in this final drawing, I have used colour to render form, to improve depth and to represent accurately the objects drawn.

The most appropriate medium for the subject: In this assignment I have experimented with pencil and oil pastel blended with white spirit – something very new to me. I wanted bold colours in this drawing and I believe that I have achieved this aim. The paper chosen worked well and helped produce textural effects as in the background.

Composition and context: The objects are all housed in a dining room dresser which has large double doors. I wanted to represent both sides of the cupboard using views 90 deg apart. My daughter was a little puzzled by the white space in the middle – which could be seen as strange – however it was intentional. The use of repeated colours and more door showing on the left helped to balance the composition.  The objects were not moved at all and were drawn as seen.

The objects are a mixture of sentimental personal items, presents from relatives and souvenirs from my travels abroad.

Mark making and contrasts in line and tone: I have used various mark making techniques in this drawing – including sgrafitti, brushwork in the background, textural marks with oil pastel and line/cross-hatching with pencil, also a combination of brush and line to manipulate the pencil marks in the guardsman’s busby.

Accurate and expressive depiction of form: Within the constraints of the still life subject chosen, I beleive I have achieved an accurate and expressive depiction of form.

Experimentation with idea, material and method: This was certainly a departure from the norm for me and as a method it reminds me of a childrens book illustration (with the teddies) – the material and method was an experimentation which I believe worked except for the fact that the use of a pencil drawing overlaid with bright oil pastel in places became a little muddied.

Part 2 – Intimacy

Part 2 of this course has been an exciting journey exploring many different types of media both wet and dry, and has given me many ideas to use in future work.  I have tried to incorporate influences from contemporary artists as well as find my own application of their styles/working methods.

Demonstration of technical and visual skills:  My technical and visual skills are improving, but this is held back by the lack of time to practice daily. I work on the course most evenings and more intensely at weekends – family commitments allowing. Part 2 gave me the opportunities to explore subjects that I enjoy – in particular flowers – and use a range of potentially very expressive media that I have previously not used.

Quality of outcome:  I was particularly pleased with my still life using pastel, the monochrome study of eggs laid on newspaper, and interior sketches/final interior drawing. They have I believe shown a huge improvement in the quality of my work and demonstrate that I have the ability to achieve a positive/creative outcome to the exercises through creative experimentation/thought processes.

Demonstration of creativity: Whilst I have during this part of the course been creative in use of materials and line work – I have much to learn and still a huge amount to explore further. I will continue to explore and experiment – in particular with some of the methods used by John Piper, Frank Auerbach, William Kentridge, Raoul Dufy and Joan Mitchell.

Context reflection: I need to work on this issue more in the following parts of the course. I have read several books during Part 1 & 2 (this is something I need to reflect on), visited many art galleries and carried out a limited amount of research.  I need to include these activities more in the thought processes, methods and preparation of my future work.


Part 1 Form and gesture

Tutor Feedback

Feedback from my tutor was fast, constructive and very helpful:

Tutor comment:

Observing shadow using blocks of tone
You have completed this exercise well, demonstrating an ability to understand and
suggest tonal variation. The quality of the line and the mark making you use has
energy – particularly evident in your second attempt. Here you manipulate the charcoal
with great sensitivity, combining the linear with uneven blocks of tone. It is good to see
you are not overemphasising the darker tones or being too heavy with the mark
making – resulting in a subtle sense of texture.
Charcoal is essentially an expressive medium that is bold and direct. That’s not to say
it can’t be used with sensitivity – in fact the fragile, almost elusive quality can be
exploited and used to contrast dense and dark areas of a drawing. It doesn’t work well
for small detailed studies but can be used on a reasonably small scale if there is a
limited amount of mark making or descriptive detail.
You might also like to try compressed charcoal which is much denser and harder but
can be used to add darker tones to a willow charcoal drawing. The problem with it is it’s
difficult to erase so needs to be used with care.
Have a look at Jenny Saville’s use of charcoal in her large studies for her mother and
Child series of paintings. Here you can see a powerful and expressive use of line. The
evidence of smudged underdrawing adds to the layered and slightly animated quality
to these pieces. It is a good example of combining the soft, powdery fragility of the
medium with decisive mark making to add structure. It is very easy to overwork
charcoal and difficult to bring it back to life once the surface has become quite dull.

Since these comments were made I have looked at the work of Jenny Saville and her use of charcoal in the Mother and Child series. I liked the idea of combining the soft powdery smudged underdrawing with the more powerful expressive marks on top. I will find a way during Part 2 to practice this technique.

I did in fact use mostly compressed charcoal in the studies I made in Part 1 and only during the last part of this exercise did I switch to willow charcoal.  I found the willow charcoal more expressive and easier to use, and did have difficulties removing parts of the drawing!

Tutor comment:

Group of objects
It is interesting to see the development of your ideas for this exercise. Your first attempt
in charcoal is quite well executed though it doesn’t quite have the same energy as the
previous studies. Again, you demonstrate a good ability to describe a range of tones.
You are just starting to be a little heavy handed with the outlines.
Your coloured markers and acrylic piece does have potential. The objects are quite
well observed with regard to angles and ellipses. I prefer it before you added the white
chalk as this does look rather superficial, instead of adding a sense of light across
forms it really just sits on the surface. But you should consider the strengths of the
earlier stage of the drawing when you had added a wash of acrylic. I can see why you
were unsatisfied and wanted to add more definition but there are some interesting
qualities starting to emerge. For future pieces, apply a transparent wash of ink/
watercolour/acrylic before you start working with other media such as ink or graphite.
The sense of movement that can be created adds an interesting contrast with the
linear detail and you have more control of the edges and add more or less definition.
For your two pieces on newsprint, you are being inventive with your techniques. I
particular like the strong shadows to the left on the green piece and the expressive
lines you use to describe the cloth. Again, be careful not to over emphasise outlines
around objects.
For your monochrome piece you use a more animated mark which certainly has
potential as a way of working. I don’t think the results here are entirely successful as
the arrangement is quite difficult to read and a little flat. As an abstract drawing it is just
starting to work because of the energy you are giving the line. For you, it would be
worth exploring ways of keeping this energy while continuing to look at the objects/
interior or whatever it is you are drawing. This comes with practice and increased
confidence but it is important because I know how easy it is to get absorbed in a
drawing that becomes all about mark making. Finding a balance between the quality of
the mark and rendering the form with at least some accuracy is an area to focus on. 

During parts of this exercise I felt that I was forcing the marks and that they did not flow like my previous pieces and this has been emphrasized in the comments above. In my own feedback I agreed with the idea of laying down a wash first before starting – this I will use in Part 2.

I understand that I must try and maintain the energy in my mark-making without losing control and losing accuracy in what I am drawing. Its a balance that I need to practice over and over again!

Tutor comment:

Final piece

This is an ambitious, and on the whole, well executed drawing. The composition itself is well balanced with a good combination of intricate detail and empty space. The
carving of the chair, the book and the floor are sensitively rendered and I like your
decision to include some deep dark shadows to the right. The angle of the floor is
interesting too and there is a slight distortion to the room that actually encourages the
viewer to enter, despite possible inaccuracies.
I think you are struggling with the oil pastel a little in places – I’m not sure what you are
describing in green to the right of the chair but it doesn’t really add anything to an
already quite interesting composition. And the top section of floor with the green
shadow – might this have worked better if you had used graphite? It looks a little abrupt
and contrived. Oil pastel is difficult to manipulate and can quite easily be overworked. It
lends itself to large, expressive drawings where there is a limited amount of detail. It
also works well if turpentine is added in areas to add softness and transparency. Here
you are adding it to certain areas which can be problematic because the already
slightly crude qualities of the medium are sitting next to a more delicate pencil mark –
this of course can highlight the inadequacies of the medium in certain contexts. That’s
not to say you shouldn’t combine media, I think you should explore all sorts of
possibilities – how a wet and a dry mark work together, transparency and opacity, hard
and soft edges.
Your preliminary sketchbook studies are energetic and it is good to see you
considering different approaches.
This is a personal and thoughtful approach to your first assignment piece and you are
demonstrating good observational drawing skills which will provide you with a solid
foundation upon which to explore new ways of working.

I was pleased with the comments made about my final piece and have noted the comment that I should explore wet and dry media, transparency and opacity, and hard and soft edges.  There will plenty of opportunities to explore this in forthcoming exercises and of course in my sketchbooks.

Tutor comments

Suggested reading/viewing (Context)

I have already mentioned Jenny Saville, also have a look at the drawings of Henry
Moore for their intense exploration of tone. Graham Sutherland is also interesting as
his work conveys depth and intrigue through a range of media such as ink, gouache
and pastel. John Piper employs similar techniques including frottage which you have
already enjoyed experimenting with. Also look at the charcoal drawings of William
Kentridge for a more immediate and expressive type of mark making.
Also have a look at the Jerwood Drawing Prize online catalogues of past exhibitions – it
gives a very good overview of current concerns in drawing.

These comments I found extremely interesting as my tutor has obviously thought about my approach to some of the exercises and identified a few artists that could stimulate and stretch my creative abilities. I have already looked at the work of these artists and in my next few drawings I intend to use some of these influences.


Part 1 Form and Gesture

Part 1 Form and Gesture

Assignment 1

What a journey I have had to reach this first assignment – I have at times struggled but enjoyed every minute and I have tried to be as creative as possible throughout this first part of the course.

The drawing I have made for Assignment 1 is like a celebration for me – starting a journey that will end with my dream of completing an art degree. A dream I had when I bought the book on the chair – my art bible that has been with me since I was 14 years old, bought with pocket money that I earned at the time (The Golden History of Art by Gina Pischel, Paul Hamlyn 1968). The two good quality Windsor and Newton bristle brushes, which also date from that time also star in this celebration.

The page is open at the section of British painters that I love and on the right is my favorite painting of all time ‘Child with Cherries’ by Sir Joshua Reynolds – which is a part of the Wallace Collection, London – a Gallery that I have had the pleasure to work in.

The chair is a small stool that I obtained in Spain whilst living there and I just love the carving at the back and the ornamental front legs.

After selecting my subject, I put my initial ideas down on paper and with the knowledge that I could only work at night on the assignment, I chose to work from photos. I changed the photo into B&W and enhanced the contrast a little in photoshop:

Then I made some initial sketches in my sketchbooks to decide on medium, colour and composition:


I experimented with various mediums and wanted to use a mixture of ink, oil pastel and large chunky pencils 2B and 6B. I liked the effects I created in the green pastel and the ink sketches. I also liked the idea of layering green upon a golden yellow pastel, which would enable me to scratch, and experiment more on the surface of the paper.

Before starting I made two detail sketches of the chair so that I was better acquainted with the carved patterns and ornamental legs:

I initially thought I would use an A3 sheet but chose to use A2 size instead.  I used black acrylic drawing ink and some new Faber Castell oil pastels. I also used Faber Castell Jumbo pencils 2B/6B. In the end I was not brave enough to layer two different colour oil pastels, but did stick to a mix of ink and pastels:

I did use some artistic licence in simplifying the legs and flooring, and as in my small thumbnail sketches wanted to exaggerate the perspective (this did not work entirely!).

Final drawing:


There are many errors and I could certainly have been bolder (braver) in my approach but I achieved my objective of creating a celebratory drawing, full of the emotion/ love I have for my books (this one in particular) and my paintbrushes!


In my experimental mark making and previous exercises, there was much that I could have included in this final piece – but I played safe and wanted to make a much tighter drawing than I have perhaps before achieved. I did not fully exploit the use of the ink and the creative opportunities that it can provide with oil pastels, and I think that my final decision to not include an additional colour (eg. yellow) under the green was a mistake.  Many of my highlights were contaminated and using a light yellow in the highlights of the chair back was definitely a mistake! I liked the mix of pencil with the green pastel and the scraffiti to create highlights – scraping away at the thick pastel. I could have been more careful at times with the pencil as it is too heavy in places. The mix of medium was very unforgiving and I need to exercise more care and be more accurate with my mark making in future.  I wanted to achieve an exaggerated perspective and this did not quite work and the lines of the flooring were totally wrong! Again I should have considered this very early on and been more careful in my initial studies/outlines. The composition focussed on the chair, book and brushes – which was my intention. The scale of individual parts was not accurate eg. the chair back was too big in relation to the chair legs and I could have made the book larger – I have since noticed that in nearly all of my sketches this is the same!


During my initial sketches, I made a blind contour drawing of the same photo which I liked.  After completing the final drawing I went back to this idea and made another but larger A3 blind contour drawing using a permanent marker pen and coloured it with watercolours:

Whilst both drawings were hurriedly completed – the spontaniety and freshness was a surprise that I will explore more in the future – I am therefore continuing to practice more with blind contour drawings.