In the review of my tutor’s feedback for Assignment 4, I said that “all in all, the gauntlet is truly down for Part 5!”
How true this turned out to be. Having had the original idea to explore my journey through Drawing 1 in this final piece for Assignment 5, I soon became consumed by the process itself – of transferring my idea to reality – and ended with a piece of work laying out chronologically my journey through the course from warm-up/Part 1 through to Part 4. As my tutor has observed: “a timeline of sorts, from left to right”.
My tutor’s recommendation is for me to review this final piece. While his view is that “it is well on its way towards being a strong piece”, I should nonetheless consider playing “…to its strengths … the little pockets of detailed information, from previous sketches that float in this colourful background … break up the chronological aspect – allow the viewer to float through different time periods, mixing intense areas of detail, areas of flat colour, areas of deep perspective…”
So, my task now is to reflect on this, be prepared to take big risks with what I thought was a finished piece of work, and rework it aiming for a final Assignment piece that displays more of a “non-chronological/imaginative wandering of a curious mind”.
I have prepared a short video that explains this, partly because I cannot send both the original work and the reworked piece for comparison, as they are one and the same.
Carry out a written self-assessment of each of the previous assignments, noting successes and problems that need to be resolved. Hopefully you’ve already done this during the course; if so, revisit your earlier notes and add any new thoughts. Next, select one of the previous four assignments as the starting point for your personal project.
The options are:
• Line, space and form • Your immediate environment • Outdoors • The figure and face
In Part Five you have greater freedom to pursue some of the things that interested you most throughout the course. Choose a project to develop from one of the earlier parts of the course in consultation with your tutor. It may be possible to combine options – for example, combining elements from Part Three Outdoors with animal studies from Part Two – but discuss it with your tutor first.
Be guided by your own interests, tastes and inclination in finding a subject and feel free to develop your own interpretation. Experiment, be bold and let your intuitive and emotional involvement influence your approach to this final assignment. Imagine your portfolio in a room full of other portfolios and make sure yours stands out for its visual impact.
Whatever your choice of subject, you should aim initially to be objective and highly critical in your approach. As you progress with the project, you may find that certain aspects of your subject come to life for you or that you become fascinated by a certain quality that you could develop into more abstract handling.
You’ll know by now the value and necessity of your sketchbook. As your technical skill develops so will your critical capacity. Throughout your initial experiments, keep on reviewing both the studies you’ve made in your sketchbook and your larger drawings. Reviewing your work should be an ongoing process, both while drawing and in assessing your final pieces.
Written assessment of previous assignments
In reflecting back and self-assessing the previous four assignments for Drawing 1 “Drawing Skills”, I have chosen to take the course as a whole to summarise my thoughts, rather than each individual assignment in turn.
From my own thinking and my tutor’s comments throughout the course I am reasonably confident in assessing some of the more successful elements of my progression to date. In no particular order:
I can see strengths in my reflections on the process of drawing, both in my written online learning log entries and also in my research workbook for the course which is an A3 ring bound sketchbook. I find that this size allows me scope to lay out my research intuitively:
I am comfortable in trying out new grounds; different sizes and quality of paper, canvas boards and sheets, and different types and sizes of sketchbooks (concertina, A5 and A4 ring bound, lay flat, and ‘Enviro’ recycled paper and boards):
I am more comfortable with working in a loose manner, playing around with a variety of drawing media and mark making, experimenting and taking risks:
I believe I have a reasonable understanding of perspective and chiaroscuro in the application of line and tone in my drawings:
My compositional abilities are improving, trying to think about placement of objects in keeping with ‘rule of thirds’ or ‘golden ratio’ criteria. However, some of my arrangements could be stronger / less closed-in:
Having said that, there is evidence of exploration of the real and unreal in my work as well as looking at multiple viewpoints:
With regards to some of the challenges I still see before me, again in no particular order, I am aware of the following:
More preparatory sketches/thumbnails are needed before I embark on final work – I still find myself often moving straight to the canvas/paper with the intention of producing a finished/polished piece of work, rather than using the looseness of my sketchbooks to plan and map out what I plan to do in advance, experimenting with different approaches to the initial idea and exploring ways of looking at the idea/subject and how best to tell the story/create a narrative in the drawing:
I need to be more adventurous in applying layers to my drawings, pushing the ‘thickening’ of the drawing, varying tempo and trying to get at the ‘essence’ of what the drawing is trying to say. I am still a bit unsure about what ‘having a conversation with my work’ actually means:
My major challenges, I feel, come in depicting the human figure accurately, with correct proportions. This is where, I am sure, my ‘looseness’ of approach to my drawing lets me down in the technical application of measuring proportions (sight-size/pencil-thumb at arms length method), editing and erasure of lines, tones and angles of the human body in order to achieve correct depictions of the human form:
Another factor is also likely to be the absence of access to life drawing classes due to my geographical location in a Highland glen. My main models have been myself, my wife and a selection of 360⸋ models from DVDs:
Arguably, for me at this stage in my drawing journey, my major challenge is trying to establish or realise my ‘personal voice’.
Finding a subject
Before you choose a subject or theme for this project, carefully review the work you did for the relevant part of the course. Consider what were for you the most enjoyable and successful studies. Evaluate your drawings in terms of technical skill, creativity, what you need to alter, adapt, build on further, etc.
Before you start work, think about:
• Subject – or focus of your drawing • Format – landscape, portrait, other? • Support – paper, board, found material? • Medium – single, combined, mixed, experimental approach? • Line, tone – a combination of both? • Composition – traditional or experimental? • Mood, story, visual impression • Abstract or realist – a combination of both? • Light – natural or artificial? • Size – negotiate with your tutor
Do you want to work with bold, large gestures, or does your subject suggest more delicate and subtle handling? Are you going to explore line and tonal values with a limited palette?
By now you’ll have experimented with a full range of drawing media and you’ve probably got an idea of what you want to use. If you do decide to use a less familiar medium in any part of your work, experiment first on loose sheets and in your sketchbook.
Make sure that you’ll have plenty of time with the right amount of light. If you’re working outside, will you need to visit your site more than once? Consider your light source carefully. If you wish to work on figure studies in natural light you may have to book time with your model at the same time of day over two sessions. If you’re to work by artificial light you’ll need to ensure that this is well placed both for you to see to work and for your model to be lit in the most effective way. The same applies if the model is you.
Have you got the right equipment for the job? If you’re working on landscape, for example, working on a larger surface will mean that you may need a board that you can tilt towards you. (Any drawing surface must always be on the right plane in relation to your eyes to avoid distortion.)
If you’re working with the human form, will you do a figure study, a head and shoulders portrait, a self-portrait of just your face or a whole figure self-portrait? Will you explore expressive aspects of figure or portrait drawing or work more objectively on an analytical study? Will you include the background? If so, will that form an essential part of your enquiry? Will the background or any objects included as ‘props’ have any significance?
Think how you might use colour to convey mood and atmosphere. For example, you could use colour washes to express tonal values alongside hard drawing media but you’ll have to apply these at the start or end of your study if your paper is upright or tilted otherwise you’ll get streaming lines running down the paper – this may or may not be an effect that you want. Experiment first with a range of techniques before starting your larger piece.
These are just some of the questions you’ll need to consider. Make sure that you note down the rationale for any decisions you make in your learning log. You’ll probably want to include some of this information in your artist’s statement (see below).
Whatever your subject, keep looking at it and finding fresh ways to interpret it. Each time you look at it you’ll see something different. Adopt an open and enquiring approach and search for an interpretation of your subject that is right for you. Keep looking at other artists for inspiration as you go.
Choosing my personal project
I believe my weakest element of the course is drawing the human figure, so I decided I wanted to address this aspect in my personal project in some way.
However, my strongest desire was to take the course as a whole and do something that expresses my experience of the journey from Part 1 through to Part 4.
In thinking more about my approach I took some more time out, before finally deciding, to experiment with a number of sketching opportunities trying to cover the themes of the course:
• Line, space and form • Your immediate environment • Outdoors • The figure and face
My first 6 sketches were done on an iPadPro and then worked on (see Sketches 1 – 6 below)
This is a new experience. I have dabbled before, but this is the first time I have attempted a wee series of sketches on the iPad. These six were done using the ‘Artrage’ app. I also introduced some colour in sketches 3 and 6:
The first sketches in this section are reworkings of the iPad sketches. I wanted to experiment with taking the digital sketches, printing them and then adding layer(s) to them:
“Calm, Anger, Joy & Fear” (from Part1, Project 1, Exercise 1 – expressive lines and marks). Didn’t quite manage to capture the joy!
“Calm, Anger, Joy & Fear” (from Part1, Project 1, Exercise 1 – expressive lines and marks) and developed in self portrait sketches: Calm in charcoal stick; Anger in oil pastel; Joy? in ink; and Fear in graphite pencil. Still struggling with much ‘Joy’ – seems more like ‘surprise’, but in a good way!
In producing these 17 pieces I experimented with different grounds, drawing media and techniques to try and capture the idea and create some form of narrative in each drawing (one of my identified challenges).
This thinking time-out allowed me to firm up on my chosen personal project for Assignment 5 – “My Drawing 1 Journey”.
My artist’s statement
Your second task for Assignment Five is to produce a short written statement (around 500 words) where you discuss your chosen option: why you chose it, which artists, materials, methods, themes, etc., interest you and why. Consider this as a proposal or plan, clearly setting out the task that you’ll attempt and how you’ll do this. Using your own words, think about what you’d like to test through drawing, and this will then become the title of your project, for example:
Title: ‘Combining movement and trees, looking at [artists, materials, styles, etc.]’ Title: ‘Investigating animals used in fairy stories, looking at …..’ Title: ‘Using tone only in a series of self-portraits, using [your chosen media]’ (etc., etc.)
These are simple examples but you’ll fit your artist’s statement to the project you want to carry out for Assignment Five. As you work through this final drawing project, reflect on what you’ve done before and what you’re doing now, and make notes in your learning log. You can use these notes alongside photos of your work in progress and your experimental test pieces as supporting material for your final statement, so make sure you keep everything together in your learning log. When writing try to critically assess your own work and complete a piece of writing that will inform the reader about your progress towards this personal project.
Note: This written element of the course is not about writing style or your ability to use words well. It’s about showing your ability to think clearly and creatively about your own drawing, and being able to inform and build your practice through looking at what others do, why they do it and how you might learn from their example. Your artist’s statement should accurately reflect your journey through your chosen personal project.
See the assignment as a whole as an opportunity to test an interesting idea through a combination of drawing and writing. In basic academic terms this is practice-led research, and once you progress to a higher level of study this will become more important.
“My Drawing 1 Journey” – artist’s statement
Q. What do I want to test through my drawing journey?
A. To tell my story visually in a creative way that describes what I have done and what I have learnt and experienced from my journey.
Q. What will I produce, on what material, in what media?
A. Big and bold is my idea – A pictorial journey laid out on an A1 canvas board in mixed media.
Q. What will it say and why?
A. Snapshots of my Drawing 1 experience through cut-outs of a selection of my course sketches and drawings in a narrative that takes me from my childhood (pre-OCA) to now, and looking forward to my continuing drawing aspirations.
Q. The practicalities done with, what makes this an exciting proposition?
A. Firstly, in reviewing the previous parts of the course I have identified where I have been more successful (looseness and experimentation with material, media and approach):
And more importantly, where I have specific challenges in my drawing journey (technical aspects, particularly in drawing the human figure – proportion, lines, angles and tones):
Secondly, I have been encouraged by my tutor to give more thought to a number of creative and technical aspects of my drawing. The list is not exhaustive, but includes:
Sight/Size with pencil/thumb at arms length to measure proportion/angle/tone more accurately; mixed media experiments; layers of drawing material; and narrative/story, to mention a few.
In “My Drawing 1 Journey” I hope to explore at least some of these pointers.
Thirdly, throughout the course I have been influenced by a number of writers, artists, materials, methods, and themes:
In Deanna Petherbridge’s 2010 work The primacy of drawing: histories and theories of practice there is a proposal that the act of drawing can be seen as a continuum. My interpretation of this dynamic is that:
●Line is the primal act in art-making ● It connects/continues with chiaroscuro to form both linear and spatial complexity ● This, in itself, creates connections with all the paths of the continuum ● These in turn converge and diverge at either end of the continuum.
(Petheridge, 2010, Chp.1).
Specific artist influences that I am carrying into my personal project include the cubist abstraction of Georges Braque’s still life “Bottle and fishes”, (c1910-12), which I find a playful fragmentation into a series of planes providing multiple viewpoints into the picture. Anthony Green’s “Christmas” mirror, 1947” (1982) also deals with different perspectives. The “Off the Map” series of collage work by the Hungarian artist Zsofia Schweger is also pertinent as her concept of “an image of a room [that] could contain the whole world” excites me, as does the diaristic aspect of Tracy Emin’s monoprint drawings and her conceptual art installation work as self portraits – “this is me, who I am, who I might be”.
My continuum here, “My Drawing 1 Journey”, is basically a mind-dump in order to help create a blank page for moving forward with my drawing and artistic practice. [520 words]
Stuart Brownlee – 512319 25 March 2016
“My Drawing 1 Journey” – finished work
Part 5 Assignment – initial idea
Initial idea for reflecting on my journey through this course sketched, badly, out on my iPad – a drawing map of images, looking back and looking forward, using a selection of images from previous exercises. My idea was originally have the main figure as a self portrait raised up on a curved area on the ground. After sketching this out I decided to reverse the concept, with the figure looking forward on the right hand side, rather than looking back over the course.
I began by creating a base for my evolving idea using a canvas panel – 61x82cm – triple gesso, A4 card, plastic glue, brown paper and tissue paper to stuff into the “ripples” to help hold them firm(er).
On a print-out of a photograph of the gessoed ground I marked out the areas of my journey; from warm up and Part 1 exercises, through ‘Own environment’, ‘Outdoors’ Figure & the face’, and finishing by looking forward to my personal development (Part 5).
These coloured cones/ripples represent the ups/downs of my Drawing 1 experience. I like to think of them as my ‘Stornoway black pudding hills’. My journey really began in the late 1950’s early 1960’s when my parents used to take the family to the Island of Aran off the west coast of Scotland for annual holidays at the ‘Glasgow Fair’ (two weeks in July). From a tenement in the south side of Glasgow to the sandy beaches of Lamlash on Aran I was released into a new world of exploring, playing and enjoying myself in the safety of an island community, often without adult supervision – freedom! I therefore decided to start my OCA Drawing 1 story back then, sitting with a stick making marks.
My journey from a youngster interested in mark making took me through Higher Art at school, a residential art course at Castle Toward outside Dunoon in Argyle, thoughts of Art School – and then life: a wife, a house and a new job as a librarian (cataloguing and indexing might be seen as ‘creative’, but not particularly ‘artistic’). Only when I retired from working life in 2012 did I consider picking up on my long-dormant interest in things artistic. I became a Trustee of a local contemporary dance company and embarked on an OCA Painting 1 course. So, this is my second course, and now that I am a big boy I’m again enjoying exploring mark making.
I selected a range of images from the course, printed them out, cut and laid out on the ground: warm-up, Part 1 on the left through to Part 4 on the right, and looking forward. I also laid out some ‘word clouds’ of drawing terms and language that I felt appropriate for my chosen personal development project.
I wanted to try and blend the starkness of the printed cut-out images with the vertical coloured bands. I used colour washes to achieve this, although I.m not sure it really worked. The eye level line is drawn for my eye level standing in front of the A1 board on the easel.
Adding more lines to reach from the top left “viewing platform” to the vanishing point on the right; from the bottom left “starting point” in my journey to the VP on the right and the future; and lines from pencil thumb points to VP.
Crazily tricky with the ups and downs of the mounds – needs two more lines on right.
I was keen to address layering in my drawing in a slightly different way by adding clear polyester A4 panels onto which I could draw.
Additional polyester drawing surface – fixed with ring-binder mechanism and good old rivets.
Additional polyester drawing surfaces x 2 (bottom one closed over looking back/reflecting, top one open pointing to the future).
The ring binder fixings allows the viewer to interact with the drawing by “opening” and “closing” the three polyester drawing surfaces.
These were drawn separately and fixed, once dry, with matt varnish spray.
I scraped a rough area of the forehead so that the viewer could have a peek at what lay beneath the surface. Spookily, it’s part of a sketch of my wife as model.
Finished by adding name tabs to the individual cut-out sketches, much as you might find in a gallery, from Part 1 through to Part 4.
I realised early on that this work was going to need some serious packaging for transport to protect it’s potential fragility. This gave me the idea to make use of the securing packing material for additional drawing:
Packaging material drawings – making use of additional surface – recto
On Joblite 25mm universal insulation board with white gesso & Gorilla tape. Having explored my Drawing 1 journey graphically, I wanted to address some figure drawing challenges on an unusual surface – the packaging material used to protect “My journey”. Selecting my chosen poses from the DVD accompanying Krieger, B. and Books, L.M. (2015) Figure drawing studio: Drawing and painting the nude figure from pose photos. New York: Sterling Pub. Co., I used various drawing media to envisage my ideas on a marker pen coloured background.
Of particular interest to me is the effect that the almost pixellated surface of the insulation board has, showing through the drawings, even in some that have an ‘old masters’ effect of what could be oil paint and varnish.
And why not make use of the other side as well …
Packaging material drawings – making use of additional surface – verso
On the reverse of the figure drawings I chose to try a self portrait on graphite powder with a charcoal stick line sketch.
First layer with marker pen. On top of the preparatory line sketch I layered in masking pen inks to begin to bring the figure forward against the background.
Finished drawing with oil pastel and marker pen (masking tape removed). The final layer was applied with Senellier soft oil pastels to try and capture highlights and darker tones better.