Categoría: Part 1

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

Reflection on Part 1

Demonstration of tecnical and visual skills

During the course of Part 1 I have tried to make use of some old material that I had stored away and found some of them too dry and unusable. I have therefore bought myself many new sketchpads, and drawing materials – pastels, oils pastels, coloured pencils, charcoal and graphite sticks etc. I found that the new oil pastels were of a better quality and much softer than my older/cheaper ones (I will find a use for these old pastels!) I have never really used charcoal to draw and was very encouraged with my work in observing shadow using blocks of tone, and in the shadows and reflected light exercises. I recently bought some willow charcoal which I found much easier to use than my old compressed charcoal sticks and found the markmaking more expressive. I am aware of the use of wet media and in this part I have started using ink – and will explore this further in Part 2. I also used watercolour at the very end but in the next section where colour is introduced I will use it more. I have never used gesso and will check this out soon.

During my recent trip to Europe, I was inspired by an exhibition of the work of Otto Dix – in particular his watercolour paintings/drawings (see my final comments below). In two works: Red Light District III, 1922 and Tavern in Hamburg, 1922 he uses a wonderful mix of watercolour, indian ink, graphite, pencil, oil pastel and opaque colour on paper.  I want to try similar effects in my forthcoming still life work.

I believe that I am visually aware of my surroundings and the effects of light to create mood as well as to enhance form, however I am not sure if my definition of ‘Visual Awareness’ as referred to here is correct?

My design and compositional skills I think will be tested more in Part 2 Still lifes as well as interiors.

Quality of outcome

Part 1 was limited in opportunities to demonstrate quality of outcome with the exception of Assignment 1 in which I have demonstrated an application of new techniques learned during the exercises and brought together a drawing based on a well thought out idea – which included some experimentation and initial conceptual ideas in my sketchbooks.

I am not sure that I understand ‘discernment‘ and ‘conceptualisation of thought’ as referred to in this section.

Demonstration of creativity

Part 1  did give me plenty of scope to demonstrate creativity – in the initial experimentation with expressive line making I did start to come out of my shell! I also included additional creative alternatives to more tighter work. I have started to experiment with media in my sketchbooks and will continue to do so.

I have not been using my sketchbooks sufficiently and need to develop this skill. I need some ideas/strategies on how to improve this – as this is a habit that all good artists including Picasso had from a very early age

Context reflection

During Part 1 I have read John Berger`s Ways of Seeing,  I started on Robert Kaupelis’ Experimental Drawing, I am currently reading a very interesting biography of Frank Auerbach – Speaking and Painting by Catherine Lampert, and I visited three interesting German Art Galleries. I have not had the time to reflect and use this research in my work but I am aware that it is important to use all this material to enhance my artwork and knowledge of art in general.

I am currently struggling to identify when an artwork is defined a drawing as opposed to a painting! I thought that wet media had a lot to do with this but am now not so sure. In Hamburg I saw Giacometti’s work entitled Annette in the studio, 1961 (Oil on Canvas) – to me this is effectively a drawing made with oils on canvas!

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.

Research – Experimental drawings

Blind contour drawings

I have started reading through Robert Kaupelis’ amazing book Experimental Drawing (Watson Guptill – 1980) and have started making some blind contour drawings.

I am hooked and love the expressive results – I am continuing to work through the exercises offered in the book and will continue to publish my results.

The above drawings are in pencil but I intend to experiment further using both wet and dry media with a variety of drawing implements.