Part 4 Assignment – Tutor feedback

Reflection on tutor feedback – Part 4

Overall Comments
Thank you for sending me your work Roger, you have produced a good range of
studies that demonstrate your continued interest in exploring different drawing
techniques. Some of your figure studies would benefit from a little more attention to
form and your sketchbook and learning log could be developed further to support your project exercises.

Many of my studies do rely on line and I am aware that I must use sketchbooks and learning log more rigorously to develop my work, not just support it – to build up the journey, experiment, and reinforce the learning before arriving at a final drawing or series of drawings. This will be a challenge and my overall goal in Part 5

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity
P.2 Ex 1 Charcoal Study.
Well executed with regard to the manipulation of materials – the balance of soft shading
and a fragmented line gives it a subtle sense of movement. There are inaccuracies –
the legs are too short and you have struggled with foreshortening (bended knee) but
the sensitivity of features works well. I particularly like the subtle shading of the torso
and where this meets the fabric of the sofa. It would be good to see this technique
employed alongside more rigorous observation of form.

I am not sure that I fully understand what is meant by a more rigorous observation of form, but believe that the following longer study addresses in part this issue

P.2 Ex 2 A longer study
Again, your technique is confident and on the whole this is a more accurately
described figure although you have struggled a little with the arms/wrists and feet.
Overall, an engaging study that describes the figure with sensitivity. Well balanced

I agree that I struggled with the details in this study due to lack of practice and in depth study of the individual parts of the body such as hands and feet. The issue of the arms is related to me not measuring the torso. A recent visit to the Tate to see the All Too Human exhibition was especially relevant in the work of William Coldstream and Euan Uglow who rigorously controlled and measured every aspect of their figure/portrait works. They even left the measurement marks in their final paintings – I will make some additional studies measuring more accurately as I develop the drawing

P.3 Ex 1 Basic shapes – seated model
Aspects that work well are the upper body – the face and hair are very well described
with a sensitive handling of the medium. You are struggling to describe legs with
accuracy – they don’t quite look in proportion – the lower leg is perhaps a little too short,
and the position of the raised knee isn’t quite convincing in terms of how it is attached
to the hip. I appreciate this angle would have been difficult to describe and it is a good
attempt. Keep making quick studies – really looking carefully at the form.

I was very careful in the making of this drawing and agree with the comments which again were due to insufficient practice with the figure at this stage. I will have to continue with these studies alongside other work to improve my overall observational skills – it is also something that I thoroughly enjoyed! Another issue is that I could perhaps have controlled the pose better to ensure that it was less difficult to draw or at least easier to represent in a drawing/painting format

P.3 Ex 2 Essential elements – oil pastel
These quick studies are more convincing – I particular like the one on the left. This is
an elegant study with a confident and economical use of line and tone to suggest form.

P.3 Ex 3 Stance
Two well executed studies with a convincing sense of movement. The female nude
works particularly well, again with a confident balance of line and tone. Your slightly
textured mark is effectively describing the darker tones.

The above studies were made freely using YouTube for my source material – whilst not ideal it does allow for unlimited access to a model at any time of day

Your gouache pieces are fine as quick studies but it would be good to see you
exploring this medium further, allowing more areas of space and introducing greater
contrast – as you do with your charcoal studies.

Gouache is a medium that I intend to explore more in Part 5 and in the future

P.4 Ex 2 male nude standing
Expressive use of mark making to suggest tone and texture. Some inaccuracies – the
legs are rather narrow and short and the head is rather small.
P. 6 Ex 2 self portrait
A sensitively executed study in which you allow the watercolour to retain its
translucency. The shadow across the cheek and forehead is very effective, as are the
eyes and glasses. A little more definition and contrast to separate the neck from the
chin would have been beneficial but overall, a confident study.

Watercolour is a medium that I enjoy and would like to use more – perhaps there will be opportunities in POP1

Final pieces
Seated self portraits
The strongest of these is the second attempt. Here you allow the collage and layering
of gesso to add texture and you use line sparingly but expressively to describe the
form. This use of materials is ambitious but sensitive and you have known when to
hold back from overworking. The line has an active, energetic quality that works well.
Because your first attempt is more direct in terms of the mark making, the inaccuracies
of form are more apparent. You have struggled to describe proportions in a number of
your pieces and again, the upper body and head are the strongest aspect of the
drawing, while the legs let it down a little.
However, it is good to see you expanding your scale and being expensive with your
use of line.

In these studies I may have struggled with the leg measurements because my legs straddled two large mirrors making it difficult to maintain continuity.  It would have been better to have enlisted a model! I intend to make some further studies using a model and much tighter measuring

Reclining model
This is the least successful of your final pieces. There is potential here – the use of an
eraser to add bold highlights and the slightly angular use of line to suggest form. It is
also interesting to see such dark tones. However, the overall feeling is that it is
overworked and that the figure is not quite convincing. The legs are again too short
and there isn’t a real sense of her being in that space and seated on the sofa. You
perhaps struggled to suggest shadows because there are so many dark tones
everywhere in the piece. This technique is challenging because you are essentially
working with darkness and then adding light – which can mean more darker tones are
left than might have been if you had built up the drawing starting with light. And the
slight dulling effect that can happing when there is a lot of rubbing on the paper can be
a problem. Try making another drawing using this technique but don’t cover the whole
page with dark tones – leave some areas paler and mid tone. This will allow you to
erase some areas and build up others, creating a more interesting dynamic.

I will complete another drawing as suggested and will post it as soon as possible

Self portrait
A much smaller and quicker study but more effective than the previous piece. An
animated quality of line adds movement and the intense use of tone works well to
suggest depth. It feels a little restricted by the scale – it would be good to see to make a
larger head study employing similar techniques but perhaps allow a little more of the
white of the paper to shine through. As I say, the depth of tone works well but your
work is generally more effective when there is a little more sensitivity ( seated portrait
2, essential elements, female nude).

In this drawing my aim was to work freer and develop a style that I enjoy (also it is a style I wanted to explore more fully in Part 4) I will however take note of my need to describe form more effectively and look for opportunities to incorporate sensitivity

As will be apparent from my feedback, your strengths lie in your ability to manipulate materials and your expressive mark making, whereas weaknesses are apparent in your ability to describe form – though there are times when you do this quite well. It is a very challenging project that relies heavily on observational drawing skills – no one finds figure drawing easy. So well done for pushing yourself to make more ambitious pieces of work and for continuing to explore a range of drawing techniques.

I need to understand better where I am going wrong in my ability to describe form – this is something that I do not fully understand

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity
Your simple line drawings work well, as do your series of self portraits in a range of
media. Your feet and hand studies are convincing. You seem more confident describing
aspects of the figure but struggle with overall proportions. More quick sketches of
figures would have helped you with this.
For your final assignment, you will need to work very rigorously in your sketchbook to
help you work through ideas for compositions and to make experimental studies. Your
sketchbooks will be an important part of your assessment submission.

I worked hard with Part 4 to complete it in a set timeframe which meant that I did cut corners – this was apparent in some of the work submitted. In Part 5 I intend to make everything sketchbook/research led and also not rush through it.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays
Your research into the self portrait is rather limited and you offer very few reflections
about the work you have looked at – instead you make a few descriptive and/or
biographical points. You have a little more to say about texts you have read and it is
good to see you have visited some exhibitions but overall, your learning log would
benefit from more analysis and reflection. Try asking more questions. For instance, you
make this comment – Whilst studying in Part 4, I was impressed by the wonderful
pencil sketches made by Corot – This a good example of foreground, middleground
and background. Could you say more about how he conveyed this sense of space?
What aspect of technique and composition made you think it was a good example?
If you are struggling to find time to look at a lot of different artists, it might be more
useful to look at a few but to go into more depth. There is a sense (particularly with the
self portrait research) that you were wanting to reference a number of artists and post
images of their work but without really discussing it. For your final assignment, do try to
be more rigorous with your research and use it to support and enhance your project.

My limited research for Part 4 was very transparent and obviously did not support my work.  This will definitely be improved in Part 5 where I intend to use research and sketchbook work to lead me to my final pieces. In a recent video Brian Eccleshall discusses many interesting points regarding the learning process. It is very easy to look at the end result required by exercises/assignments as the most important element within the course, however more important is the journey and the process – and the documentation/reflection of that journey/process – something always highlighted by tutors and something that I have not really focussed on. Brian also talks about an exercise he gives students to force the journey – by setting an exercise of making 20 drawings of a subject (Experimental Drawing calls for 50 drawings in 4 hours). I intend to use this advice and guidance within Part 5

Suggested reading/viewing
Look at a wide range of artists from the past and present. Some suggestions: Lucien
Freud, David Hockney, Alberto Giacometti, Paul Noble, Julie Mehretu, Dryden
Goodwin, Kate Atkin, Gemma Anderson. Look at how these artists employ technique in
relation to subject matter and make observations in your learning log.

I will check out the artists new to me in the above list and revisit those I have already studied, in addition to reviewing the websites suggested below

Also look at The Drawing Room, a platform for contemporary drawing –
And the Rabley drawing centre –

Pointers for the next assignment
This assignment gives you the opportunity to reflect on what you have learned
throughout this course and consider the ways of working that have been the most
rewarding. I expect you will enjoy the process of consolidating and perhaps
reinterpreting subject matter and technique. Go with your instinct and what you find
interesting as well as challenging and don’t be afraid to experiment.



Part 4 The figure and the head

Reflection on Part 4

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

Within this part of the course I have used  range of techniques and materials and have experimented with oil pastels, soft pastels on a gessoed surface, charcoal – subtraction and addition, and even movement using video. I have especially shown a strength in my use of charcoal in various styles and formats.

I believe that my visual skills are improving and that drawing from life is the best method of achieving an even better visual awareness (my self portraits are an example of this improvement) – drawing of the figure/head or even landscapes and moving figures.

Other examples of improved visual awareness were demonstrated in sensitive studies of my wife and niece.

Quality of outcome

Whilst application of knowledge has been shown in the quality outcome of some of my drawings, I need to more fully document the process using images, notes (learning log) and increased use of my sketchbooks.  In my self portrait studies there has been an improvement in this process and I intend to demonstrate and benefit from this process in Part 5. I will therefore use the criteria points for ‘Quality of outcome’ as the basis/guide for my work in Part 5.

Demonstration of creativity

Development of a personal voice is not something that I am striving for at the moment as I feel there is a lot to learn and experiment with in my current studies.  Experimenting with different styles/mediums and building up a toolbox of techniques is my aim. I do have some preferences in subject matter but do not want to remain in a comfort zone so do not wish to reveal nor remain within these preferences.  This course and that of POP1 will enable me to explore both the confortable and uncomfortable.

Context reflection

For this part of the course I have concentrated more on the practice of drawing than research – the research I have carried out is that which I have collated whilst studying other elements from within the course, in addition to reading books and articles found within the internet.

Assignment 4 submission

My three (actually four) final drawings for Part 4 demonstrate a wide and competent range of techniques using line, line and tone and tone in some challenging subjects all from life. I do not believe that I have ‘tightened up’ and have maintained a fluidity and spontaneity in my work. I developed elements from experimental work within Part 4 exercises in my final drawings and clearly made use of previous research into the work of Frank Auerbach.

I thoroughly look forward to Part 5 during which I intend to demonstrate a marked improvement in every element of the assessment criteria points and push myself to the full.


Part 4 The figure and the head

Part 4 The figure and the head

Assignment 4

1. Figure study using line – Seated model in an upright chair

Upon starting this course I was worried about working big, however now I find it liberating and comfortable working bigger – this drawing was a little bigger than A1.  The paper (in spanish) was called Pergamina – a textured vinyl type paper which creates a misty effect when used with charcoal. In this drawing I used coloured pencil and charcoal.


Self-Portrait Charcoal and coloured pencil on textured pergamina paper

This drawing was based on an earlier sketch I made of myself – also made in front of a very large mirror hung in my study/studio.  I had huge difficulties with my left leg and had to redraw it many times. I drew my right arm in two positions as I had to keep it moving to draw!

Of course the whole image is reversed by the mirror.

I was not entirely pleased with this drawing because of the amount of reworking and also because I re-read the assignment brief which asked to rediscover new ways to work with line – so I used experimental work that I made previously in the figure exercises in oil pastel and also an effect I encountered in Part 3 with pastel on newsprint previously painted over with acrylic gesso – the effect was almost like a fresco.



On this occasion I used a limited palette of soft pastels on newsprint pre-prepared – painted over with white acrylic gesso:


Self portrait – Soft pastel, collage and gesso on cartridge paper
Detail of self portrait

Whilst there are some inaccuracies in the scale and measurements of this study, my line work was fresher and I used a wide variety of colour, weight and style. I have managed to achieve an accurate rendering of my limbs and hands – including some skeletal landmarks.  I was much happier in this study than the first.

2. Figure study using tone – Reclining model

During this course and Part 4, I have been referring to an interesting book on drawing by Paul Thomas and Anita Taylor:

The charcoal drawing on the right was actually made by addition (not subtraction) but I also referred to a part of Experimental Drawing in which a drawing was made by the subtraction of charcoal. In the following drawing I wanted to achieve a similar effect to the RH drawing above but by subtraction. I therefore prepared the pergamina support the night before with a direct coating of compressed charcoal.

This then gave me a basis upon which I could achieve a figure study using tone. Highlights were taken out using a rubber and darker shadows by adding charcoal.

The pergamina support was not ideal for this medium but did allow for better subtraction of the charcoal.

Lighting was artificial and from a single source – in the evening without daylight.

There was also influence from studies made by Frank Auerbach – see self-portrait notes below for final drawing.

Reclining figure, Charcoal on pergamina paper

This is perhaps a style I could develop further and it did work well.  There are inaccuracies in the proportions, however I felt that the modelling using tone was good and model well placed within the sofa.

3. A portrait or self portrait combining line and tone

This final drawing is in fact an atmostpheric self-portrait using a single light source as called for in the brief. The influence was from the portraits and self-portraits made by Frank Auerbach:

Combining this with his looser line drawing portraits:

NPG 6611; Frank Auerbach by Frank Auerbach
Frank Auerbach – Self portrait, pencil and graphite

Before making my final drawing, I made some other Frank Auerbach style studies in my sketchbook:


Also some other sketches – the RH one blind:


Finally, I returned to a study by Frank Auerbach called ‘Head of Bruce Bernard’ – I made the following copy before embarking on my final drawing for Part 4:


For this drawing I chose the wonderful Strathmore charcoal drawing paper that I had used before with compressed charcoal to ensure that I could achieve a wide tonal contrast combined with expressive line.  The drawing was made up of several layers  built up, erased and then built up again until finally I had a sufficient level of texture, interesting background and basis upon which to finalise highlights and expressive line.

Final drawing: 

Self-portrait, Charcoal on Strathmore laid finish charcoal paper 95g, 45 x 30cm



Part 3 Tutor Feedback

Yesterday I had a Google Hangout with my tutor Clare Wilson. It was an experience I feel should be carried out more frequently throughout the courses – As it can certainly build a better rappor with the OCA Team and help build up confidence in your work, or give quick guiding help to those who need it.  

I was pleased that my tutor confirmed that I was making good progress – this is a copy of her report with my comments added:

Overall Comments
It was good to talk to you today via google hangout. I have given you a summary of the
main feedback points.
Feedback on assignment
Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of
Confident, fluid studies in a range of media. The quicker ones work best.
360º Studies
Pencil studies – sensitive and well balanced compositionally. Tonal perspective well
rendered. confident, fluid marks.
Pen – we careful to avoid making severe contrasts as these can look a little contrived.
Developing your studies
Engaging, well considered composition – the strongest is the pencil drawing (good
combination of decisive linear detail and softer sense of movement).
Foreground, middle ground, background.
Interesting to see the development of your ideas – the first study is delicately rendered
in terms of the mark making and slightly animated line. I can understand your
frustrations in terms of perspective but in correcting this, the second and third attempts
lose some of the quality of line and are overworked in comparison.
You are resolving this in the final watercolour study. Here you are achieving depth
while also allowing the medium to inform the results without overworking.
This is developed further with your ariel perspective piece of a similar scene. The
indian ink piece is beautiful and the watercolour has luminosity and the right amount of

I feel confident using both indian ink and watercolour, in addition to charcoal – there is a need to take this strength further and push myself to the limits using these mediums. I was pleased that my tutor recognised a continued improvement in my mark making and confident use of different media. 

Townscape studies
Quick sketches have energy. Final piece quite well executed though the central placing
of the sign lets composition down a little – though it’s shadow does work well. Placing it
further to one side might have created more effective balance while retaining sense of
Townscape using line
Again, an energetic use of mark making. Particularly like the square/tower block pencil
Charcoal and soft pencil study of moving figures is well executed with sense of
movement. There are inaccuracies – the arms of the figures don’t quiet look in
proportion but overall it still works because of the way you have suggested movement.

I enjoyed working on these pieces and was pleased with the comments made. I wish to take the movement of people in the towncentre further in Part 4.

Limited palette study
Good tonal range and some delicate linear detail. Becoming overworked in places –
lower section is a little heavy. Works better where you use the edge of the pastel and
break the line up a little. Preliminary collage pieces have potential but try allowing more
space/inactivity to inform the results. Looks a little dense in places but worth pursuing
as a process/technique.
Final piece
Of the two preliminary pieces – the second is the strongest, with greater tonal contrast
and a more effective use of media. The foreground of the first is a little too hazy and
lacking definition. Slightly overworked.
The final piece has potential in terms of process and technique – however, the different
elements are getting lost because of a lack of definition and contrast. I can understand
you were wanting to retain the fluidity the materials were providing – and the sense of
transparency but this could have been emphasised with more contrast. For instance,
had you made the road much darker, with shadows, this would have allowed the
vehicles to stand out more. Compositionally, it is well balanced and the perspective is
accurate. It would be good to see you try making another piece with these materials
but try to build up a little more tonal contrast to add more depth.

There was a great deal of experimenting/testing out included in the work leading up to the final piece – the comments made were fair and encourage me to take these techniques further.

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity
Examples on blog suggest you work freely and quickly in your sketchbook. Watercolour
studies are strong. Remember to try and keep this fluidity own the more finished

I have now included a Sketchbook section to my blog and intend to use it to improve my use of sketchbooks and include them in my workflow.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays
Some improvement – good to see you looked at some of the artists I suggested and
your reflections are honest. Also good you are using the research more to inform your
own experiments. Resist adding to much biographical information and keep building on
the level of reflection.

I will include details and thoughts from my research in the learning log as a part of my workflow.

Suggested reading/viewing
Figure – Look at Jenny Saville who creates large, fleshy oil painting of the nude – she
also does interesting studies in pencil and charcoal. Egon Schiele made beautifully
angular and haunting images. Paula Rego’s pastel drawing are worth looking at for
their sinister narrative. A dark undercurrent can also be found in the work of Ana Maria
Pacheco and Chantal Joffe.

Paula Rego, Ana Maria Pacheco and Chantal Joffe are new artists I will check out and use in Part 4 

Pointers for the next assignment
Sketching the figure in motion with an energetic line will increase you confidence in
responding to the human form when you need to work on more careful studies.
Continue to develop your understanding of tone
Avoid overworking – allow areas of space to inform the results.
Make quick and slow drawings – keep looking