I’ve received my tutor report following submitting assignment 1 and below is the complete report.
You have made an excellent start to the course, Christine, and your work is of a very high standard and beautifully presented. Your online blog is well labeled and easy to navigate, and you are on the right lines with your learning log and research. This level is all about getting into good habits and I am happy that you are achieving what you need to at this stage.
Your drawing style is careful and meticulous, and you have produced some lovely pieces of work – well done! You are concerned that you are taking too much time and writing too much (see my comments below on this subject). Try and get into the habit of making some quick sketches by using a timer – do the same composition in 5 mins, then 3 mins, then 2 mins to really loosen up. You style is detailed and thorough, but it doesn’t do any harm to try and work more loosely sometimes.
However, my most important comment to you would be to have confidence! You are clearly becoming a skilled draughtsperson, you have a responsive and refined way of tackling things and you present your work in a very accomplished way.
As far as assessment is concerned, I would normally be required to present my opinion at the end of Assignment Two, but as you have asked me to comment I will say that I have no hesitation in suggesting that you go forward for assessment.
Well done for a great start!
Project: Making Marks
Your impressive range of experiments in mark making show imagination and a developing responsiveness to materials and mediums. This type of exercise is a very useful in getting the feel for what is the best medium for each subject, and how a desired effect could be achieved.
Project: Basic Shapes and fundamental form
You have worked hard on your basics shapes and your arrangements show an eye for composition. You have a precise and analytical approach and you are clearly keen to research and understand the principles behind what you are trying to do. Your boxes and books are particularly well executed, and your jars and jugs are carefully observed and you are aware of when the ellipse is not quite perfect.
It might be worth having a go at these sorts of shapes again at some point, but this time using a larger format and some charcoal and setting a time limit (say, 5 mins, then 3 mins, then 2 mins per drawing). Working quickly can really help to loosen up your hand/eye co-ordination.
Your supermarket shop drawing is well observed and delicately executed, showing a sensitive eye for form, tone and composition. The shapes are convincing: the perspective and ellipses all look right. Your drawing style is clearly precise and detailed, but I would suggest, when drawing objects with typeface or font on them, to be a little less defined and pedantic as it is hard to replicate font using freehand, so it’s sometimes better to just suggest it rather than try and faithfully reproduce it. But overall this is a lovely drawing.
Project: reflected light
These are excellent studies, Christine – well done. you have really carefully observed the highlights and shadows and used a good range of tones, although the cast shadows* could have been a little darker. I know that drawing in a large format is physically difficult for you, but you have done very well with your larger piece and the shapes are very convincing.
*Shadows fall into two categories: cast (the shadow that an object makes on another surface by blocking out the light) and form (the shadow on a object that is the opposite side of the light source). Shadows that are cast are usually darker and more crisply outlined than form shadows, and are more intense the closer they are to the object. Remember that if a shadow falls on a textured surface, the shadow will also be textured and not flat.
Project: Still Life
Made objects: Your thumbnail drawings and your learning log show that you are carefully considering composition and developing a good eye for what works. I’m not sure which, if any you chose to develop but I really liked the ‘bird’s eye view’ arrangement which showed you are using your imagination (although it’s a pity it was physically difficult to draw in that position).
Natural objects: Once again your thumbnail sketches indicate that you are thinking carefully about composition. Your choice of medium (ink and fineliner) was very successful and you have achieved a good balance of tones. Your mark making is sensitive and responsive, although some of the hatching is a little hesitant and the standing pepper seems slightly overworked, but I think you have been a little hard on yourself in your log as this is a very effective piece of work.
Project: Using texture
Your have produced a range of textures and as your learning log observed, this is an interesting and fun exercise.
Your drawing with texture is meticulous and exceptionally well observed – well done. You have chosen an interesting and diverse group of objects for this drawing and managed to describe each one using a range of marks. Once again the cast shadows could have been a little darker perhaps, but other than that this is a very strong piece.
Feedback on assignment Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity
Natural forms: Once again your preliminary drawings show that you are giving a lot of thought to composition, and your learning log explains in detail the process you went through.
The objects you chose are quite small and lacking in height, so (as you discovered) to try and approach them from any other angle than above does not make for a good balanced composition.
Your final piece was, once again, meticulously drawn and carefully observed. However, I think that it lacks some coherence as a whole. I think this is mainly because of the number of objects on the page: although they are individually beautifully described they are too small, numerous and dissociated, giving the drawing as a whole a fragmented feel. Also, as you noted yourself, colouring in the whole background has made it tonally too uniform and rendered some of the smaller objects, such as the string, more difficult to make out.
The Promarker drawing worked much better as there were fewer objects – this might have been a much better arrangement to develop into your larger piece: it might have been a better idea to crop it in closer and really concentrate on the textures of the objects up close, rather than sticking to life size.
Having said that, both drawings are very well executed in terms of observation of form and description of texture, and as you have noted, everything you try is a learning curve and a useful experience, so don’t be so hard on yourself!
Made forms: Your studies for this, in both graphite and coloured pencils, are really lovely and show much thought. Your bread rolls in colour are particularly convincing and you have been very successful in capturing the individual texture of each one. You are clearly comfortable with working in colour and this will help a great deal in coming projects.
Your choice of using frottage for the main piece has worked well and doesn’t overpower the textures on the objects themselves, which once again are well observed and formally convincing.
It does need a more tonal differentiation, especially on the shadows which needed to be stronger to give a more dramatic effect. In fact the darker tones overall could all have been a darker still – a good 6B should be able to produce this if you ‘give it some welly’ and don’t be afraid to press harder!
Sketchbooks Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity
I can see form your blog that you are using your sketchbooks to really explore materials, techniques and subject matter, and you have stated that you are trying to do a drawing a day. All I can say is keep up this excellent habit!
Your sketchbook should also be where you can experiment and ‘let your hair down’ artistically in terms of both technique and subject matter, so don’t worry if something doesn’t work out how you expected or wanted it to – that’s all part of the process. Keep up the good work!
Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays Context
Your leaning log and other research pieces indicate that you have approached each subject analytically and self reflectively. You are visiting galleries and writing up your views reflectively, although try and become a little more critical and analytical – why has the artist chosen to work in the way they do? What is the effect of their work? Where does this artist ‘fit’ in terms of movements, etc? What were they trying to achieve, and have they succeeded?
You research on other artists is thorough and you have referenced well, although you don’t need to write quite so much about the biographical aspects of their lives (unless it is vital to the understanding of the work). Concentrate mainly on the above questions, a few lines on each question is fine.
Suggested reading/viewing Context
You drawing style is highly accomplished and meticulous, and you clearly have good habits when it comes to keeping a sketchbook and practicing mark making. You have some very good skills to build on!
I think you would benefit from a good book on contemporary drawing so that you can see a diversity of styles and subject matter. Vitamin D or Drawing Now are very good (although not cheap), or check out the Jerwood Prize pages.
Remember also that most painters will have some drawings or etchings you can see if you Google their names. This is a useful exercise to compare and contrast drawing styles which have varied so significantly.
Pointers for the next assignment
The next assignment concentrates on using colour so your sketchbook experiments should reflect this too – keep practicing with different mediums to get a feel for them.
The next project deals with natural forms and animals. You have already demonstrated an excellent eye for textures and form, so perhaps you should spend concentrate on drawing animals – not easy! Keep your eye out for suitable subject matter and do some research on how other artists have tackled these subjects, both historically and in contemporary art. I would recommend the work of the sculptor Nicola Hicks when looking at animal drawings – her work in charcoal is superb.
Learning Logs: as far as I am concerned your approach to your learning log is just right for this level. You are self reflective and have done some very good research on other artists, although there is not need to write so much about biographical aspects (see my comments above). The main thing is that you are developing an understanding of where each artist ‘fits’ stylistically and ideologically.
There is no need to write quite so much about each exercise – the check and logs are there to guide you to ask the right sort of questions and be self reflective. A few pertinent lines on each exercise is fine at this stage.
Tone: Obviously some mediums lend themselves to a greater range of tones than others. Charcoal, for example, will give greater darks than pencils will. A soft pencil should get quite dark, although you might have to be a little firmer with your strokes. Squinting also helps when trying to establish tonal values.
Drawing size: I am not too sure what to suggest about the larger drawing formats, as I know there are many exercises in the book that require this; however clearly there will be some people who may have difficulty with the physical aspects of this, and you can’t produce your best work when you are in pain! I am wondering if there is any kind of surface you could lean it on against a wall?
If this continues to be a problem do let me know and I will consult the course leader for any suggestions or whether or not a smaller format might be acceptable for each exercise (I don’t see why not).
I need to now take on board all the advice that my tutor gives in her report and work at those things. One of the first things is to try and acquire some self confidence, something that I find extremely difficult both to find and to keep so I will need to try and find ways of helping myself with this. More often than not I am my own worse enemy.