Tutor report – Assignment 3 14/10/13
Well done Chris, you have clearly worked very hard on this assignment and your sketchbooks show how well you have responded to each exercise. Your work is neat and well presented.
Your drawing style is careful and meticulous, however, I feel you are too heavily reliant on line at times and I wonder if you could achieve better results by using tone to create definition (light against dark and vice versa).
Your work on statues shows that you are beginning to branch out and think more experimentally and creatively, and this is to be encouraged. Taking risks and making mistakes is part of the process – don’t be afraid to try working in a different way and experiment with style, working habits and materials – it’s a vital part of the learning curve and of finding your own voice.
Some of your most effective work has been in your sketchbooks where you are more loose, rather than the finished pieces, where you might have felt under pressure to get it ‘right’. This is a very common issue! Try taking the pressure off by not thinking of any particular piece as ‘the one’, but keep trying different things and see what happens – you might find one works better than the rest.
Try working on a different, much larger scale and see what happens – charcoal on A2 for example, to try and loosen up. Set yourself a time limit for a drawing, and then try it once again in half the time (and then once more in half that time again if you want) – you’ll be surprised how much you can get down. Remember – you already have the observational and mark making skills, you just need to build up more confidence!
Project: Landscape Drawing
A sketchbook walk: Using a variety of marks you are succeeding in capturing the elements of the scene without getting too fussy, and you are capturing a sense of distance.
Tonally I think you could go even bolder in places, but on the whole these are a really competent set of sketches.
360 degrees: Again you have created a sense of depth, particularly on the pencil drawing. The skies could have been blended a little more (although not really possible in pen, of course) to suggest the fluffy weightlessness of the clouds in contrast with the more defined marks of the landscape features.
Clouds: You have made quite a number of interesting studies and have responded well to the work of Constable that you have studied. With the softer mediums (pastel, charcoal) there could have been a little more experimentation with smudging, blending and using a rubber to draw with; however this is a comprehensive set of studies. Well done.
Plotting space: As far as the landscape goes, there is great depth of field and you have skillfully created interest and texture in the foreground which gives way to just the right amount of faded marks in the distance to suggest aerial perspective. However, again the work as a whole is overpowered by competition from the heavy handed mark making in the sky.
A wet on wet technique would have served you much better – wet the area of sky and then add the ink with a large soft brush, allowing it to flow and blend.
This is not an easy exercise but you have tackled it well. It can be very difficult to gauge angles by eye – a transparent grid can help – and drawing very straight liners is not, in fact, easy, but you have made a good effort here. Drawing built structures might not be everyone’s first choice but do keep practicing now and then.
Using line: These are all to scale and the perspective looks right. You have successfully created a sense of depth on the larger A3 drawing by rendering the building in the distance more faintly, however I think you could have brought the foreground in even further by even darker crosshatching and lines.
Townscape drawings: These are strong tonal works; the lights and darks have a real sense of drama, particularly the graveyard scene. I prefer the small sketches in the A5 book to the larger ones – the mark making looks more loose and assured and you have not relied so much on line for definition.
Limited Palette: This is a careful drawing but does appear a little stilted in places. You have a good range of tonal values here – these (light against dark and vice versa) could have created definition without the need to outline everything.
Drawing Statues: You have used a wide range of mediums here with some really interesting results. I am really pleased to see you are beginning to branch out – the white on black is very striking and the experimental works on the crumpled watercolour background are very striking and give it a surreal sense of narrative. As I mentioned in my initial comments, this is the sort of exploration and creativity that will ensure you do well at assessment and help you to find your own voice.
Drawing trees: You have made an impressive number of studies here: I think you have a real feel for this subject and have responded to shape, colour and texture in a sensitive way, using a variety of materials.
Feedback on assignment Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity
This is a very well executed piece. Your numerous studies have paid off and you have carefully observed and described tonal and chromatic differences using a variety of marks to give the foliage texture and visual interest and prevent it from merely being too busy – you have distinguished the varieties of foliage without getting too bogged down in detail. The greens are contrasted nicely with the reds of the roofs and the shed, and the perspective and scale are correct and give a sense of depth.
Compositionally it is fairly well balanced, although it’s a pity that the roof in the background is so horizontal as it segments the picture somewhat – straight horizontal lines in a picture tend to slice up the composition and block the eye from traveling any further.
You have clearly worked hard and given a great deal of thought in your approach to this assignment – well done.
Do remember to spray it carefully with fixative before assessment as it was still quite loose when I took it out.
Sketchbooks Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity
Your sketchbooks are exemplary – you have worked very hard and really got the most out of all the exercises. Well done and keep up the good work.
Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays Context
Your written blog is interesting and I am sure you would get a great deal out of an art history module. Remember (and in answer to your email question) you don’t have to write about everything – you don’t need to concentrate too much on biographical details for example, unless they had a impact on the work.
The main thing is to respond to what you have seen in the light of what you are trying to do. – Specifically looking at how other artists have tackled the issues that you have faced: looking at composition, light and shade, colour etc can be an effective ‘way in’ to understanding their work.
Base your questions and responses on basic questions such Who? What? Why? etc: What did they choose to paint / draw and why? Did they follow a convention or ‘school’, or were they pioneering and experimental? Why do you think they worked in the way they did? Where does their work ‘sit’ in the general scheme of things – is it part of a movement? Etc etc. It’s also important to compare and contrast – look at the artist in comparison to another from the same era, or movement, or who tackled the same subject. What are the differences?
Suggested reading/viewing Context
You are probably well under with this by now, but as the next assignment is about figure drawing you will know that there is a wealth of artists who have concentrated on this subject. You may have your own personal favourites, but I would suggest taking a look at the work of Jenny Saville, Lucien Freud and in particular Paula Rego, who works mainly in pastel and drawing mediums so would be ideal to look at for a drawing course.
As well as looking at how various artists have described the figure, think about the mood that has been created, and how the character of the sitter comes across. What has the artist done to achieve this?
A book on figure drawing will be useful to help you understand proportions and may help with choosing the right colours. Look at the figurative work of other artists and see what colours have been used to describe flesh.
Pointers for the next assignment
I hope you have had some luck finding a model – it’s not easy, but as the book suggests, a live clothed model is better than a photograph of a nude one.
Looking at a book of anatomy for the artist will really help, and there are several websites with online resources for artists including images of life model poses, which are good for practicing. The temptation is to work from photos if you don’t have a model handy, but try and avoid this if possible, as you will then be getting a second hand image.
It might help to some separate studies of things like eyes, hands and feet as well, to build up confidence and competence when approaching drawing the figure. Be careful with proportions – measuring is the key to this, as well as looking at the negative shapes made by the figure. Again, a good book on figure drawing can help you understand the proportions of the body.
My thoughts following my tutors report:
My tutors report was very helpful in pinpointing the areas that I am still finding difficult and highlighting things that I need to work on during the next section of the course:
- My tutor highlighted “…however, I feel you are too heavily reliant on line at times and I wonder if you could achieve better results by using tone to create definition (light against dark and vice versa).” I will need to work on trying to be less reliant on line and having the confidence to use tone more for. I will also need to continue to work on improving the range of tones that I use within a drawing so that I can achieve more tonal contrast.
- My tutor highlighted that “Taking risks and making mistakes is part of the process – don’t be afraid to try working in a different way and experiment with style, working habits and materials – it’s a vital part of the learning curve and of finding your own voice.” I really enjoyed experimenting with the later statue drawings and will need to try and be brave enough to do more of that. I would very much like to be able to draw more creatively/expressively with my drawings and the only way of being able to develop that is to be much more prepared to take risks, and to allow myself to make as many mistakes as I can along the way. I think that it will also be helpful to me to think of whatever I am trying as an experiment rather than trying desperately to master it. By thinking of it as an experiment it opens something up for exploration and joyful investigation rather than desperately trying to ‘learn’ it.
- My tutor felt that “Some of your most effective work has been in your sketchbooks where you are more loose, rather than the finished pieces, where you might have felt under pressure to get it ‘right’. This is a very common issue! Try taking the pressure off by not thinking of any particular piece as ‘the one’, but keep trying different things and see what happens – you might find one works better than the rest.” When I first read this I felt quite despondent as it is the final drawings that are the ones that will be marked if I did go for assessment. Unfortunately, I really do find it difficult to shake the fear of ‘failing’ an exercise or assignment drawing and never really feel that my drawing skills are up to the task. Not surprising, therefore, that I find it difficult to relax with the drawings. My tutors advice on how to tackle this is very good and also ties in with the previous point of experimenting as well. It is going to be hard to let go of the fear over an exercise/assignment drawing but this approach should certainly be very helpful in starting to overcome that.
- I also found it very helpful where she said “Remember – you already have the observational and mark making skills, you just need to build up more confidence!” I generally feel very lacking in skills yet it is a fact that I have gained a lot of observation and mark making skills already throughout the course. I didn’t know how to do any of these things before so I have come a long way from that. So I need to stop trying so hard to get it ‘right’ and start, as already discussed, using the above points to help me experiment and joyfully discover more and that in itself will help me to gain more confidence. I know that this is going to be easier said than done when faced with an exercise/assignment drawing but using the above to help me will enable me to keep taking steps forward with these.
- I have found it difficult to know the best way of approaching looking at other artists work and what to write. I look at a wide range of work but find it hard to put into words following doing this and asked my tutor on the best approach. Her advice in the report is very helpful and will enable me to engage at a deeper level when I look at other artists.
- I am looking forward to looking at the artists work which my tutor suggested in her report while keeping in mind the following that she wrote “As well as looking at how various artists have described the figure, think about the mood that has been created, and how the character of the sitter comes across. What has the artist done to achieve this?”
- I am finding individual features quite difficult to draw and will certainly be taking my tutors advice to do separate studies of these areas.
I will be working on all of the above as I tackle this next part of the course