Project 1 – reflections

I was a little confused with the instructions for this section and so I did a mismatch of different media and concentrated on two types of natural object: shells and oranges.  In the end I drew a set of 3 oranges with coloured pencils.

The coloured pencils were effective at layering up colours and showing the multitude of different oranges, reds, yellows and browns in the fruit.  I felt like I showed the individuality of each of the 3 fruits, how they were not a standard orange or perfect spheres.

I am pleased with my final piece but I don’t think I have experimented enough with different marks and textures.  I need to do some more work in this area.

I did learn to read instructions more carefully before starting as this would have allowed more focused work and allowed for more development time.

If I were to repeat this, and I probably will repeat it, I would concentrate more on experimenting with marks rather than focusing on the end result.  I don’t think I did this part of the task effectively and having looked at other students work on their blogs I am inspired to try this again.  I would stick with one media and just work on using that media in a different way,

I have achieved my first use of colour in this course.  I am used to dealing with colour from a painting perspective but haven’t really used colour in terms of crayons and pastels much before so it is all a big learning experience!

I don’t really think I have linked theory and practice very well in this section and it something I will try and do more of in Project 2.  I did enjoy looking at how artists use negative space and I did consider that when I was building my compositions with both the shells and the oranges.  I have also read a lot about colour theory in the past and so utilised this on knowing how to blend different shades for the oranges.

In my future pieces I will build upon this use of colour and experiment more with mark making and compositions.  This is exciting for me as I think it will lead my paintings to become more unique to me as I will have my own story in each of them.

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


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.