Assignment One feedback

I recently submitted Assignment one and have received my feedback (assignment-one-feedback).

On the whole I am very pleased as there are a lot of positives in there.  I guess starting something new and submitting my first piece of work had some anxiety in there as I was actually quite nervous to open the document.  Anyway, the nerves were for nothing as there is some detailed comments that are very helpful for moving forwards.  For my own benefit I have split the comments into sections so I can use them moving forwards:


  • I am gaining confidence with my own voice both visually and contextually.
  • I am engaged with the course.
  • I am working well in terms of evaluation and reflections.
  • The submission was solid and personally challenged throughout.
  • Some elements of risk
  • Interesting outcomes in emotive marks
  • Evaluated and critically analysed well
  • Good range of studies on texture
  • Captured 3D qualities well
  • First page of sketchbook was an excellent start
  • Texture encapsulated very well
  • Reflections in learning log support studies well
  • Able to zoom in and look at what I have in front of me
  • Good annotations in sketchbook
  • Basic shape drawing is good
  • Experimented with a few different media
  • Critique own work well in learning log
  • Show an understanding of positive and negative space
  • Connect to objects on a personal level
  • Final piece shows interest in textural qualities
  • Colour pallette works well when referencing calm
  • Good attempt at first large drawing
  • Good understanding of dark and light tones
  • 60 second drawing captures the mood of still life well
  • good sound reflection around the work of Odilon Redon from a general and personal perspective
  • very confident larger scale drawing that fills the page
  • used the putty rubber well
  • managed to make an interesting and complex composition for final piece
  • written very carefully around choice of objects as well as the placement of hidden items. This is very interesting and something that perhaps you could hold on to when moving further into more personal work.
  • final drawing does manage to lead the eye around the final drawing with ease
  • some lovely moments in there such as the light hitting the glass jar containing your paint brushes
  • crab is an unexpected yet charming addition as it is not easy to read whether it is real or man made
  • written a good solid reflective account of Part 1
  • research is explorative and informed
  • Your log is being used well and you are clearly recording and documenting your learning through this tool
  • learning log is organised and easy to follow.

Action points:

  • Take more risks
  • Make more use of my sketchbook for development
  • More sustained preliminary work before assignment piece
  • Develop ideas at length before doing large pieces
  • Look at exhibitions that challenge me
  • Really look closely at techniques and media in exhibitions.
  • Check video upload
  • Look closely at artwork in the flesh
  • Further evaluation of frottage exercise
  • Consider looking at abstract nature of frottage page as a whole
  • Do small studies on objects before incorporating them into big piece
  • Show development from initial idea
  • Further practice in drawing ellipses
  • Keep up writing lengthy reflections
  • Work on more emphasis of midtones
  • Take care on details – only draw what is interesting
  • Consider varying compositions by drawing small thumbnail sketches
  • Varying the weight of line, working with broken lines to widen experimentation.
  • take the time to measure the depth of ellipses
  • Work on dark backgrounds to show objects that are black an white
  • make decisions visually through drawing taking the time to draw several small scale versions in your sketchbook before deciding on the final and most interesting composition for you
  • further study of mid tones would allow you the opportunity to really decide where the light hits and where it recedes as aspects of light areas held within this still life are a little confused at times
  • Squint and decipher or take a photograph to help you understand where the light falls. Don’t work from the photograph
  • label the pages of your sketchbook against the exercises
  • written a good solid reflective account of Part 1
  • collect things of interest, postcards or images from exhibitions and so on in sketchbook too
  • Extend your learning links beyond Wikipedia –  use required reading books
  • See at least one exhibition that takes you out of your comfort zone within your next assignment
  • evidence in a little more detail the wider reading
  •  cite as many exhibition visits to your work in detail.
  • Purchase a copy of Vitamin D2 to help you with your understanding of more contemporary artists.

Artists to Look at:

  • Richard Long
  • Robert Smithson
  • Andy Goldsworthy
  • Jeanne Claude
  • Christo
  • Ai Weiwei
  • Van Gogh – landscape drawings and marks
  • Rembrandt, Matisse, Renoir, Charles Avery and Reny Lalique for variations in mark making


Assignment One – reflections and self assessment

For assignment one we were asked to find and draw a selection of objects in a still life arrangement.  The objects were to be ones that aroused some kind of feeling inside us and we were asked to pin up some of our previous work on making expressive marks around us whilst we worked.  I chose a selection of objects around the theme of ‘happiness’ as can be described here in my previous post.  Before drawing the objects, I played around with some angles and arrangements to try and get a composition with some interesting tones, shadows, shapes and reflections.  I used my smartphone camera to take some photos of the different arrangements and in the end worked from a combination of viewing the real objects in front of me and using the camera image too.  I worked with a selection of charcoal sticks, charcoal pencil and a small amount of white classroom chalk.

Overall I am pleased with the final drawing.  I feel like it has captured the right degree of happiness but with quite a dark gloomy atmosphere.  I wanted to try and get this dichotomy of feelings to highlight that my happiness always comes with a hint of anxiety due to my bipolar disorder, this is something I picked up on in the exercise looking at emotion.  I also like the story the picture tells, the fact that all these objects that say happiness to me are propped up and surrounded by psychiatric medication, medication that is usually hidden from view.

I learned a lot from the exercises leading up to this and the final drawing.  Prior to this course I had never worked with charcoal before and it is quickly becoming one of my favourite drawing mediums.  I like the fluidity and looseness it gives me, I always feel a little tight and unsteady using pencil.  I have actually extended my range of charcoals now so that I have a mixture of pencils and loose sticks.  I also learned a lot from my research into still life and how to set up compositions using the rule of thirds, creating interesting shapes and how to select objects, this was from reading books about Picasso  that made me think about how we select what we draw and paint to more technical books about drawing itself.  On a more technical note I have learned how to observe more carefully and from practising some of the techniques in the required reading book ‘Drawing…’ I have improved my drawing skills.

If I were to rework this assignment piece I would change the lighting setting slightly to give the crab more emphasis, when in light he creates some wonderful reflections which aren’t picked up in this drawing as he was too shaded.  I would also experiment more with different media and try doing the same composition in paint or ink.  Also, I would like to try this same set up in colour as I feel different colour hues would add to this drawing.

I feel like I have achieved so much already in this course.  I started off quite a novice at drawing, with my experience limited to quick sketches for my paintings.  I now appreciate drawing as an art form itself and have done some reading around this.  I have experienced new media: charcoal, graphite sticks, pastels and have worked on a new large scale of A1.  I have also done reading around historical artists and their drawings, subscribed to Art Monthly and watched TV documentaries on Artists and their art.  I feel also with the help of the online guide that my reflective practice has improved.

In order to draw this still life I put into practice some of the drawing techniques from the books I read and considered the advice from the TV documentary.  I have also used the course book and tried to show expression and create atmosphere in my drawings.  I think I achieved this darker atmosphere that I was looking for in my drawing.

I plan on revisiting this theme of dark happiness but in a different medium, I want to recreate it but add some acrylic colour in there as as an experiment.  It has also given me a list of things I want to work on as the course progresses: I still need to experiment with media more, I want to continue working on my 3D shapes and textures.  I can do this by looking at more examples, perhaps by fellow students and by doing more research into drawing techniques.

Overall though this assignment has left me feeling excited for how my future studies will go.  I already feel like I have improved but I know there is a long way to go.  I know a lot more art theory than I did a few weeks ago and I am daily drawing now which is going to lead to even more technical improvements.

Self Assessment against learning outcomes:

On successful completion of the course, you’ll be able to:

• demonstrate drawing skills using a wide range of drawing media

I feel like I am improving in this area.  I have used pencil, pen, paint, charcoal pencils, watercolour pencils, ink, charcoal sticks, chalk and soft pastels.  I feel like I am now more comfortable in charcoal and this is currently my favoured drawing media but I feel like my pencil and pen shading needs a lot more work.

use drawing, tone and colour to represent three dimensions

Again I feel like I am improving in this area, my 3D shapes have improved as seen in my final assignment piece and I am comfortable with charcoal tone but feel like my hatching needs a lot more work.  Colour not yet covered in this course but I use colour a lot in my painting.

explain the rudiments of linear perspective and other drawing systems

Not really covered yet in this course but I have experimented with perspective in my paintings and sketches.

reflect perceptively upon your own learning experience.

I feel like this is a strength of mine due my experience in teaching others.  I am getting good at looking at my work with critical eyes and making notes on what I need to improve on.  Using the template in the higher education guide has been a huge help in this area.



Assignment one


In this assignment we were asked to find a few objects that trigger a response and place them together to form a still life.  We then had to set them up in a space that created interesting shapes and angles and to light them in a way that they make tones obvious.  At the same time we were to place the experimental mark making sheets we made for exploring texture and gesture near by.   We had to work on A2 or A3 and use a range of drawing tools to create our still life.

Before I started out on this assignment I conducted a lot of research into still life and drawing techniques.  I watched an excellent TV documentary on the history of still life and it’s place today.  From this I picked up a lot of tips and it made me think a lot about the choice of my objects.  One of the most useful tips I got was about composition and so I played around with a lot of objects to create shadows and interesting negative spaces.  I also tried to keep in mind the ‘rule of thirds’ and using the grid on my camera I placed objects at the thirds intersections to try and create some interest.

My choice of objects look perhaps a little odd to begin with but they are all linked with the theme of happiness.  There is:

  • A small sculpture of a mother holding a baby that I was given as a gift when my daughter was born.  This reminds me of the happiest day of my life when my daughter was born and aesthetically I have always enjoyed looking at the soft smooth curves on the piece.
  • A blue crab ornament.  This was given to me by my partner’s Mom the first time I visited them in Virginia so it reminds me of him and his family and also a great vacation in the USA.
  • 3 books (although one is deep in the shadows so not clearly seen).  There is a New York City guidebook as it reminds me of where I first met my partner.  The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien as it is my favourite book and one of the few I can reread time over and an old book called ‘The Company’ which was one of the first gifts my partner gave me.
  • A metal incense holder as one of my coping mechanisms for my bipolar disorder is meditation.  I also like the shape of this particular holder and it gives some interesting reflections.
  • A glass jar of paintbrushes as discovering painting and art has been a major source of therapy for me.
  • As a background is a suede photo album of pictures from University that bring back happy memories, I also thought a dark textured background could be interesting.
  • Scattered throughout the piece are boxes, packets and pills.  These are because I have to take a lot of psychiatric medication each day in order to have some happiness.

Going back to the composition for a moment.  I tried to view from lots of different angles to get the set up I wanted.  The composition I chose in the end was to have the light shining very brightly, with additional lighting from above, at the sculpture and having it sitting on a very white box of medication.  This makes it look as if the box almost isn’t there to symbolise that I don’t like people knowing I am a parent who needs psychiatric drugs and I tend to keep the medication hidden from others but I know I need it to ‘hold up’ my parenting role.  Similarly the other packets and containers of drugs are hidden in shadows and behind other objects, like they are always there lurking in my life but I try to keep them hidden from view.  The very front packet is creeping out into the light just like sometimes I can’t always keep my symptoms hidden from others.  I wanted the main focal point to be around the more ‘normal’ happier objects like the ornament and the sculpture but I feel perhaps like I have highlighted the box of medication too much.


Reflections on Project 2.

Project 2 was all about shapes and fundamental form.  In it I have practised drawing various 2D and 3D shapes, put groups of objects together to look at the shapes they make, the spaces between them and how they impact on each other with shadows, I have also experimented with tone and used various media to depict these tones and shadows.

I feel like this project has been a mix of success and failure.  I feel more confident in sketching the different shapes now and have practised ellipses in particular and my cylinders have improved as a result.  I experimented with backgrounds for the group of objects which didn’t go that well, the acrylic paint was too smooth to get good sketch on top and the paint was too dark at the top of the paper.  I feel like my charcoal sketches have gone well, I can produce much looser emotive marks with that than with the pencil which seems to hold me to perfectionism too much.

I have learned a great deal.  I now appreciate the importance of ellipses and drawing realistic cylinders.  I have learned to be looser and more free in my marks and I have learned to look at negative space between objects as well as the shape of the actual object.

If I were to repeat this I would spend more time with different backgrounds, try different papers.  I am also not happy with my hatch marks and feel like they need to be more fluid in the future.  I need to experiment more with these marks and try different types of pencil to do this particularly with length of mark and pressure applied.

I have achieved confidence with working on a larger scale and with media like charcoal that I don’t normally use.  Using charcoal is something I am going to take forwards in the future.  I have also learned to look closer at the tones, shadows and reflections objects make.  This awareness of tone has helped me to make more natural looking drawings.

I have used the tips in the course handbook to half close my eyes to look at tone and to not concentrate on details but look at the object overall to get the tones and shadows.  I have also taken note of the tip about not outlining shadows as this is something I have done in the past.  I feel like these have helped me to become a better drawer and will reflect in my paintings too.

In the future I plan to experiment more with these marks, use the techniques in my painting too.  I also plan on sketching more everyday objects as highlighted in the still life documentary I watched: sometimes regular overlooked objects produce the best ideas.

Overall I feel like my work is improving, this has made me focus on tones and shadows but I feel like I still have a long way to go.

Project 1, Exercise 2 reflections

This exercise was all about experimenting with texture, I did so using a variety of different materials in my sketchbook.  Details of which can be seen here.

Overall, I am fairly satisfied with the results but I also feel I have a lot more experimenting to do in this area.  The frottage was an interesting experiment with mixed results, some of the textures didn’t show well at all with the graphite and paper I used.  The sketches themselves again are mixed.  Some of the textures I feel I captured well like the softness of the wool but others I feel I was concentrating too much on making a sketch that looked like the object instead of just focusing on the texture itself.

I learned that sometimes you get better results by narrowing in on one small aspect of an object rather than trying to look at the object as a whole.  I feel I got better results with the orange skin when I did this and took time to look really closely and feel the texture rather than looking at the whole fruit.  I also tried some new mediums like a new ink and new water soluble pastels.

I don’t think I really took enough time to feel the objects and their textures before drawing them.  I concentrated on too much what the texture looked like rather than using a mix of senses to get a feel of the texture before trying to draw it.  If I were to repeat this I would try to draw what I felt alongside what I saw.  In fact this is something I think I will try very soon.

I stepped out of my comfort zone slightly as I do usually portray texture with layers of paint and so this made me concentrate on the 2D representation of texture.  It has also made me research more about texture in paintings and drawings and how different artists show this.  I do need to put into practice and experiment with techniques I have read about more.

I think this exercise is helping to improve my drawing and alongside the first exercise on emotions my drawings are becoming more expressive rather than just flat copies of what I see.  This is something I plan to use more of in the future.  I now need to focus my research on textures and apply some of these techniques in my sketch book.  I would also like to repeat some of the drawings focusing more on how an object feels rather than just looks.

When I started this exercise I was a little unsure of the direction to go in but now I feel like I understand more of the importance of texture and how to show it in drawings and paintings but also feel I have a long way to go!

Reflections on Exercise 1

On paper this seemed like a relatively straight forward exercise and it was one that I thought I would do fairly quickly.  In reality I ended up spreading it out over a few days and really tried to give myself chance to get into the appropriate emotion before carrying on.

I decided to use the same set of 4 materials so that I would have a direct comparison at the end with the emotion being the only altered variable throughout.  The materials were: a charcoal pencil, acrylic craft paint with a skewer, soft pastel, watercolour pencils.  Out of these materials the paint is the one I am the most familiar with, although I have never applied it with a skewer before.  I have used the watercolour pencils before but as a colour medium rather than just a drawing one.  I have also used the soft pastels before, but again never in monochrome.

Overall I am pleased with the final 4 A1 sheets and can see a distinct difference in the type of strokes and movements used.  They aren’t finished pieces of work by any means but they are the starts of learning to use more expressive marks.

I actually learned a great deal from this activity, more than I expected to.  I learned a lot about my own emotions and how easy and difficult it is for me to express certain emotions.  Also, due to my research I took the time to learn some basics about abstract expression and how other artists have created expressive marks to show emotion in their work.  As for the materials themselves, I learned how applying different amounts of pressure can change the look of pastel and charcoal significantly.  Another interesting concept in the acrylic paint rectangle was the volume of paint used and how leaving different amounts of negative space alter the end result.  However, my most important learning point was about the creative process itself.  I hadn’t realised before but when I have created in the past I have always had quite a fixed end result in mind, this process was a new way of working for me as I really had to let go of the end product and just focus on the process and where it lead me.  I had no idea what the final results were going to be in any of the cases.

Emotion and the impact on pieces of work is something I want to explore further and if I were to repeat this I would combine the different materials and focus just on the emotion rather than the choice of material too.  I did feel restricted only using one colour each time and I would like to explore the importance of colour on emotion too.

I’m not sure I have yet put theory into practice, I feel my research is limited so far and I haven’t really incorporated that into my work yet.  I would like to research more in this area and then apply the techniques to my own work.

This has definitely led me to understand the creative process more and I will use this technique in the future to let the process decided the end result for me.  This is somewhat different to me but I did feel I connected with the piece more and it had more of my own personality in there.  This leads me to have some worries as I think this has shown me how I respond to sadness more naturally than joy and I hope this is something for my own personal state of mind that can perhaps change in the future.