Categoría: Research & Reflection

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

Research point – Research artists self-portraits historic and contemporary

Rembrandt (1606-1669)

One of the most prolific self portrait artists ever – he made over 100 self portraits (although some are disputed and may have been copies by his students) 10% of his total work.  The portraits painted throughout his life up until his final year can be viewed as autobiographical and include fashions, and changes in his features as he aged.

Van Gogh (1853-1890)

Van Gogh made over 30 self portraits in his lifetime. He could not afford models and used peasants as models and of course a mirror to make self portraits – one of the most famous being the one with his bandaged ear:

Self portrait with bandage 1889 Oil on canvas

In addition to these portraits he also made other styles of portraits using autobiographical objects of his life:

Tracy Emin (1963 – )

Tracy Emin’s controversial work which includes working blind is of interest to me as I do enjoy the freedom and surprising accuracy of working in this manner. Monoprints are new to me and perhaps something for me to explore as soon as possible.

Like Van Gogh, Tracy Emin also used autobiographical objects from her life:


Tracy Emin My Bed 1998 (Turner Prize nomination)


Frank Auerbach (1931 – )

Among the most inspirational artists for me is Frank Auerbach whose methods were very unorthodox and creative. I recently saw one of his building site paintings in Colombia. His self portraits and portraits in general interest me:

Highly creative and very different in approach. I will use his charcoal method in my submission for Assignment 4.


Part 4 The figure and the head

Project 6 The head – Research point

Contemporary artists as well as historic artists who work on the face in different ways.

For my research in this section I selected artists and their works which both interested me and relate to works on paper – drawings, watercolours, ink etc. The works also inspire me in terms of the techniques employed:

Edouard Vuillard – An artist that I admire for his paintings of interiors, he also drew/painted many portraits.

Edouard Vuillard portrait

Predominantly a line drawing which has been substantially enhanced by his addition of white chalk. The choice of a neutral coloured support acts as the middle tone.

During this course I have enjoyed experimenting with ink and have started to use gouache (something I want to explore further). Graham Sutherland is an expert in these mediums:

G Sutherland portrait
Helena Rubenstein 1957 Gouache on paper

Alberto Giacommetti has to be on my list (even though his works are predominantly oil on canvas) His style is a drawing type style which is impressive – I recently saw one of his works in Colombia.

giacometti portrait
Caroline 1961 Oil on canvas

One thing I find strange within his faces is the face itself which appears flat and overworked with lines – the model staring straight at the viewer. Normally his portraits include detailed backgrounds (usually his studio) which add depth and place the portrait within its environment – but this image is flat, no modelling and an absence of environment (very feint details in the background).

David Hockney has to be included as a favorite painter of mine – especially in terms of portraits. His works on paper include many detailed portraits using coloured pencils – see below:

After seeing a portrait of Churchill and his wife last year by William Coldstream, I have added an inspiring portrait by him of Sir Trenchard Cox:


Coldstream Sir Trenchard Cox 1967
Sir Trenchard Cox 1967 Oil on canvas


John Singer Sargent also was a master at drawing and painting in watercolour – here is a favorite of mine:

JSS portrait
Portrait of Ambrogio Raffele 1904/11

Frank Auerbach´s techniques with charcoal and also his sketches in pencil are an inspiration to me and I will explore this further:


Finally after visiting a major exhibition of the work of Otto Dix in Germany last year I have included works here by him in watercolour and pastel:

I was impressed by his masterful use of watercolour and indian ink.