Assignment 2 completed 12th July 2013
I had several aims for what I wanted to achieve with this assignment 1) to start immediately without procrastinating about it, 2) to explore various colour media and to try and think outside the box (when I spoke with the OCA, see previous post, thinking outside the box was one of the suggestions to find the enjoyment in the course again and it struck a chord) 3) to enjoy the process 4) to allow myself to take risks, even if the drawing ended up not working 5) to keep with a drawing, even if it appears to be going horribly wrong 6) to concentrate on what I was learning rather than what I felt I couldn’t do 7) to work at producing the best drawing that I could at this time, I didn’t have to “produce an excellent piece of work” as per the course instructions, I just needed to do the best I could at this present moment in time, and changing the emphasis, for me, really helped 8) to complete within a two week time limit so that I could keep momentum going.
Before I took a break from the course I had drawn some thumbnails to test out some possible compositions for assignment 2. A4 sketchbook (2) pages 10 & 11. I am not sure when these were drawn as I didn’t date them but I would imagine that it was about the end of January. As, amazingly, three of the squashes had survived from that time I thought that they could be a good starting point to explore different approaches and colour media using just these three in a setup, and to revisit some of the media that I had used in various projects during part 2. I forgot to take a photo of the setup when drawing it so this was taken afterwards, which meant that I could not get them back in exactly the same position, but it gives an idea of the setup.
I often find myself becoming very tight with drawing so I thought that I would start with something that would help me to loosen up, and decided to revisit using felt tipped pens. On the 28th June I used Stabillo point 88 felt tips to try a continuous line scribble drawing of the squashes, A4 sketchbook (2) p.12. I was aiming for lively and colourful, attempting to make a drawing that had life and movement to it, rather than a stilted one. It was drawn without any preliminary drawing and I enjoyed doing it. It wasn’t overally successful, becoming rather too scribbly and scruffy but it does have a certain amount of life to it. It would have benefited from more tonal contrast and would probably look better cropped, and it was interesting to try that out when putting it on here.
For the next drawing, A4 sketchbook(2) p.13 I revisited using wax crayon and acrylic ink. I liked the wax resist drawing that I tried when doing the project drawing flowers in different colour media and thought that I would try the idea with this. I used a white crayon and the 3 primaries in the FW Acrylic Ink, red, yellow and blue, adding an extra ink in orange. I really enjoyed this drawing. I couldn’t see much of what I was drawing in the crayon and the squash on the right has particularly suffered in its shape. The background wash is decidedly clumsy but I like the light effect that it has given. I then added detail using home made pens made from sticks and dipped into the neat inks. Even though accuracy has suffered, I like the colour combinations and feeling of light. I tried to keep the drawing loose and spontaneous, with variable mark making, and though the drawing is pretty clumsy, I do like the feel and energy of it and I had great fun with this, and is something that I would like to explore again.
On the 29th I tried a line drawing, as previously I had found it difficult to remember to vary line strength. A4 sketchbook(2) p.14. This drawing started as a line drawing in coloured pencil (centre of largest squash) but I found myself getting really tight so I changed to a stick dipped in ink. Again, no prior drawing, drawn directly with the stick and the ink. I tried to convey the objects by strength of line and decided to crop closer in on the objects and to try and fill the paper more. I’m pleased that I have been able to vary line strength and I think that this helps to convey the volume of the squashes as well. I found that I started to get a bit tight and fiddly once I started shading a little with the stick as the ink ran out, giving me a much lighter tone so I called it a day. I was still trying for energy with drawings and still tending to get scruffy instead but I enjoyed doing this one.
On the 30th I tried drawing some new thumbnails to start to get an idea as to what I would do as a composition for my assignment piece. A4 sketchbook (2) p. 15. There is no doubt that I still struggle to come up with an interesting composition. I enjoyed playing around with these but none of them could be called exciting or original. Hopefully in time compositional skills will improve. Though I am still clumsy with it I am thinking more about shapes, how they go together, light and shade, negative spaces etc, so that is a definite step in the right direction. Out of these I think that I prefer the top two, probably liking the cropped view, top right, best. I like the diagonal sweep through and flow in it. I also like the set up top left as it still has a feel of flow through it and I think that it would be more of a challenge to do, to be able to control tonal values and to be able to link the drawing together. One of things I would particularly like to achieve in the final piece is a better tonal range in the drawing, something that I struggle to achieve.
I decided to do some further experiments with different media and to keep to the 3 squashes in the same setup as it was interesting for me to see the same setup repeated in different media, and the effect the media had on the end result. So the next few days were spent trying out coloured pencils and then pastels.
For the colour pencil drawing I decided to try a paper that I have not used before, Colourfix Paper which has a surface rather similar to sandpaper and I decided to use one that was aubergine colour as it would act as a complementary to the main colours in the drawing. The size is 23x30cm. For the pencils I decided to use Coloursoft. I decided to go with the same cropped composition as I had done in the line drawing. It was interesting to use the pencils on the paper, they caught and showed quite well on any of the raised part of the sandpaper like surface. The dark colour paper contrasted well but overall probably turned out to be a mistake as I had trouble getting the lighter colours to cover sufficiently. I tried to vary my marks and to look for colours in the objects that perhaps I wasn’t seeing at first. As a final step I decided to use a little pastel for the very lightest lights as I was struggling to achieve anything light enough with the pencils. The colour paper links the objects together well but overall it is quite a sudued drawing as a large amount of the ground colour comes through in the grain of the paper. Cropping the right hand squash also proved to be unsuccessful as it tends to look as if it is rolling out of the drawing and gives a rather downhill effect, not helped by the directional marks on the table.
For the pastel drawing I tried a new paper again, Hahnemühle Velour paper, which has surface rather like the ‘Fuzzy Felt’ boards that I played with as a kid. The size is 30x40cm. This time I chose a pale yellow as a background colour to see the difference between that and a dark ground. The fuzzy paper holds the pastel well but can make a hard edge quite difficult to achieve as the effect of the surface of the paper almost gives a slightly soft focus effect. Drawing the squashes seemed to go quite well but I did struggle to capture the correct shape of the right hand one. I tried to work on creating sufficient contrast with colour to show form successfully. I struggled more with the background. I found large areas of the fuzzy paper difficult to cover evenly and found it took a little time to try and achieve a colour and effect that didn’t look out of place. I should have done the shadows on the table and wall deeper and compositionally the negative space between the two main squashes and the edges of the paper are too similar in size. I had a bit of a disaster when I was carrying it and managed to drop it, whereupon it fell, wiping itself down my apron and then bounced off me and did the same to the wall. Not surprisingly there was rather less pastel left on the paper than there had been and if I could have thought of a bad enough one I would probably have invented a new swear word. As it was I was rather too stunned to think of one. The drawing really did look a mess. I dusted areas off with a brush and then sat and redid the worse affected areas and on the whole it hasn’t worked too badly. Luckily the velour paper holds the pastel pretty well and most of the damage was done by the purple background pastel covering the clean yellows and oranges. I learnt my lesson and took a photograph of it before I could do any more damage to it. I must admit that it was tempting to send this in as the final piece but it didn’t really fulfill the requirements of the assignment that we should “select a number of contrasting objects in size, shape and texture” and “add a plant or vase of flowers in, and put something contrasting in the background such as a jug or bottle”.
So the next task was to set up the larger still life and make my final drawing for the assignment. Once again I decided to experiment with paper and chose a hotpressed watercolour paper and decided to use oil pastels as I have only done one drawing in the course with them. I wanted to see if I could manage to control tone and colour successfully across the whole of the drawing. I sketched the objects lightly in pencil first and then refined shapes by lightly shading with a pastel and then dissolving this with Zest It to make a wash so I could see the main areas of tone. I then made a start with drawing with the pastels. I worked on varying my marks and controlling colour and tone across the whole drawing, and I tried to stay quite loose with the marks. Tonally I think that I have managed better tonal control than I normally do and have tried to use colour well. It is however quite a boring drawing and does not seem to have much life to it, and as the final assignment piece, compositionally it leaves a lot to be desired. I think I have drawn it reasonably well, it is just lacking something and I can’t put my finger on what I would need to do to improve it. It will be interesting to leave it a little bit and then see if I can work out where I have gone wrong, as the only thing I can think of at the moment would be to increase tonal contrast further and crop the paper. But I enjoyed the challenge of doing it and feel very pleased to have pushed on with it and completed it.
Just for fun I decided to have a final try with a colour media and decided to do a brush and stick drawing of the other thumbnail set up that I liked. I used Winsor and Newton colour inks, as I haven’t ever used these for a large drawing, and 16×12 inch cold pressed watercolour paper. I tried to keep the drawing completely free and fast moving, and not panic when it all appeared to be going pear shaped, and subsequently accuracy has somewhat suffered but it was great fun to do. I had somewhat of a disaster when I spilt ink on the right bottom corner. I tried to turn it into a shadow but it looked pretty terrible. I therefore used a blue pastel to cover it a bit and then painted a thrown shadow of leaves (liking the effect that Patrick Caulfied had achieved with his shadow leaves). It really hasn’t worked as I have just done it too clumsily but it will be something to think about how to improve on another time. I can’t even pretend that this is well drawn but I really enjoyed trying it and it was fun way to finish off the work for the assignment.
I reckoned that taking some black and white photos would give me a reasonable idea on whether my tonal control was improving.
It was interesting looking over them. I think that I gradually managed better tonal control as I went along and each drawing seems to have a little more tonal contrast than the previous ones and works a little better in black and white. That could, however, be down to the different media, rather than anything I have done, but I like to think that perhaps my tonal control is getting better.
Reflection on the assignment
So at the end of the work for the assignment, did I achieve my aims that I started with.
1) To start immediately without procrastinating about it. Yes, I started immediately and managed to keep momentum going. 2) To explore various colour media and to try and think outside the box. I think I did well with the range of colour media that I explored. Some thinking outside the box went on but it would be nice to take this much further in future projects. 3) To enjoy the process. On the whole I managed to enjoy the challenge of each drawing and explore possibilities without becoming too bogged down with a whole bunch of negative thoughts about my capabilities. Not 100% successful but a lot better. 4) To allow myself to take risks, even if the drawing ended up not working. I tried to stretch myself with the media that I tried and paper. I could have taken more risks with composition. 5) To keep with a drawing, even if it appears to be going horribly wrong. Pretty much all the drawings looked fairly disastrous at some point or another but I kept working steadily on them. 6) To concentrate on what I was learning rather than what I felt I couldn’t do. I think that I was reasonably successful with this but is certainly something I will need to continue to work on. 7) to work at producing the best drawing that I could at this time, I didn’t have to “produce an excellent piece of work” as per the course instructions, I just needed to do the best I could at this present moment in time, and changing the emphasis, for me, really helped. Though I know that the drawings are not great, they are definitely the best that I can produce at this time, so I am happy with that, and I think that they show progression. 8) To complete within a two week time limit so that I could keep momentum going. I am really pleased that I have been able to keep to this and that all work for the assignment was finished by the 12th.
The course book says that the following should be demonstrated in the drawing and I next need to look at whether I have fulfilled them: 1) An understanding of the use of colour in drawing I think that the assignment piece demonstrates an understanding of the use of colour and I am pleased overall with the way that I have used it. I would have liked to have had more colour and variation in my shadow areas, which at the moment I do not know how to achieve while keeping the shadows at the correct tone. So I will need to go over further how other artists treat shadow areas. 2) An understanding of the most appropriate choice of medium for the subject and skill in using it. I think that the oil pastels were an appropriate choice of medium for the subject but it would have been a better choice if the drawing had been larger. I think that I have demonstrated a fairly pedestrian way of using them but that aside, what I have done has demonstrated a reasonable level of basic skill 3) the ability to set up an interesting composition. I am still not managing interesting compositions but I think that it does show some improvement on some of the compositions that I have done for the course. This is an area that still needs a lot of work. 4) Variety in mark-making, depth, contrast, tone. I think that the drawing demonstrates an improvement in all of these areas compared to some of the work that I have already produced for the course. A long way to go, but definite signs of improvement. 5) Accuracy and a demonstrable understanding of form. I think that the assignment piece demonstrates reasonably well both of these things. There is less accuracy in some of the freer preparation pieces.
Looking at the assessment criteria points, however, I have not done very well but perhaps there are some signs of improvement in certain areas.
1)Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills: materials, techniques, observation skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills. I think that for the first things listed i.e materials, techniques, observational skills and visual awareness, there is demonstrated a good basic level in these. I appear to be decidedly lacking in design and compositional skills at present but I think that there are some signs of improvement.
2) Quality of Outcome: content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas. I think that again, I show quite a basic level in fulfilling these, but again with signs of improvement.
3) Demonstration of Creativity: imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice. I think that I find all of these things difficult but have aimed to experiment in my preparatory pieces but have, perhaps, experimented more with media, rather than ideas and I certainly would not score any points for inventiveness. I am still struggling to find a personal voice but hopefully that will gradually crystallise over time.
4) Context: reflection, research, critical thinking (learning log): I think that my learning log demonstrates reflection but is more lacking with research and definitely with critical thinking. These are areas to work on.
Even though I am going to concentrate, at present, on doing the course for personal development I think that it is still very useful to see how I match up against the assessment criteria. It helps to show me the areas that I still need to work on.
I am pleased to have completed the assignment and will now start to look towards the next part of the course.