Assignment 3. preliminary sketches and final piece plus reflection using assessment criteria points

This is my assignment 3 drawing which is a view at Durham Botanic Gardens. I went on a sketching day with Interface Arts a group of professional and semi-professional artists based in County Durham. They have funding towards an exhibition based on gardens in County Durham later in the year. I joined Interface with a view to making contact with other artists and gaining opportunities to exhibit work.

My prompt note for assignment 3 was: “A drawing with plants, a structure and a feeling of depth.” I had trouble with this – all my exercises seemed to have 2 out of 3 – plants and a structure but no feeling of depth; plants and a feeling of depth but no structure.

At the Botanic Gardens I came across a little gazebo looking out over a pond and path. I sketched out rough compositions in my sketchbook.

I also took a lot of photos exploring composition and viewpoints.

I made the final drawing at home using a variety of photographs. I experimented with masking fluid and decided to remove a large spiky plant in the foreground to open up the view.

I found it hard to “fill in the gaps” where my sketches and photos didn’t have the information I needed for elements of my drawing – for example – where I removed the plant.

I was quite disappointed in the final drawing.  I felt the composition wasn’t as dynamic as it could have been – for example, the path is straighter than it was in my initial drawings. I like the areas in the background using masking fluid which created lively and quite abstract blocks.

I learned to more accurately assess the amount of time it will take to make a drawing. It would also have been useful to plan a second visit to enable me to fill in any gaps. I will continue to work on understanding composition and also experiment with making my work looser and less detailed as I think the final drawing became too detailed.

Reflection on Assignment three

Assessment criteria points

1) Demonstration of technical and visual skills – materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills

In this assignment I feel I have progressed in composition and developed my sketchbook work to explore composition and techniques. In this assignment piece I used masking fluid for the first time (after trying it out in my sketchbook). I also removed a plant that was too dominant in the foreground which is the first time I have altered a composition to make it look more interesting.

The work was based on in situ. sketching in Durham Botanic Gardens but I also took photographs which informed the detailed work in the final drawing. While there are elements of the drawing I like – the more abstract trees in the background and the swirly plants in the right foreground – I could have made the composition more interesting and I didn’t observe the beam in the roof of the gazebo properly in my sketches or photographs so it is a little bodged. I also am not sure about the almost square final composition, I had originally envisioned a much more panoramic view of the garden but, to be frank, ran out of time (having already spent 9 hours drawing) and also hadn’t recorded the scene in enough detail to draw the wider view. Finally I feel the work generally is too detailed. I prefer the more abstract areas and will take this forward into future work.

2) Quality of outcome – content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas.

I think the final piece gives a feeling of depth and of sunlight and shadow which is what I was hoping to achieve. It is a very detailed piece and is how it occurs to me to respond to this landscape, however, I am aware that some of the artists I have studied such as Georgia O’Keefe create landscapes with little to no detail. However, others such as Peter Doig and Pierre Bonnard are more decorative and detailed. I would like to look at other ways to reflect landscape with less detail.

3) Demonstration of creativity – imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice.

I think the composition is creative with the dark wooden post and beams in the foreground framing the view and I have experimented with masking fluid and watercolour which I haven’t used very much before. The subject itself is a bit “conventional” – a pretty view, a path, flowers, a pond. I really struggled with finding a subject that fitted all the criteria in the assignment and this felt a little like a compromise. I am aware that I haven’t used my sketchbook as much as I could to take an idea through experimentation to completion and recently attended a sketchbook course (after completing this assignment!) I hope to take what I learned into my next assignment.

4) Context reflection – research, critical thinking.

During the course of Part 3 I have looked at a wide variety of artists including those mentioned above as well as Albrecht Durer, Claude Lorrain and Claude Monet. I also went on study visits to Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen in Newcastle and Degas to Picasso at the Ashmolean. I enjoyed the film “ Exhibition on Screen: I Claude Monet” which explored Monet’s life through his letters read out by an actor while the film showed the work he was producing at the time.

There were certain techniques I wanted to find out more about so I researched oil pastels and also found a useful video on composition.


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