Response to Tutor Feedback on Assignment 3

I found my tutor’s feedback really helpful and encouraging as I found Part 3 very challenging.  I feel I have almost grasped some of the practices I have struggled with including:

  • exploring composition more in my preliminary sketches
  • taking the work of other artists and incorporating ideas into my own practice
  • setting a concept or parameter for a subject to direct my work (I’m still finding this difficult) and exploring this in my sketchbook.

I think these are the areas I am weakest and will continue to work on these areas when working towards the next assignment. I will also look at tonal contrasts which is an area my tutor picked up on as needing more work.

I am glad that my own reflections on the Assignment are described as “insightful” and that I seem to be on the right track when analysing my own work and the work of other artists. I will also continue to network with other artists where possible.

My tutor gave me pointers which I intend to work on over the coming weeks. I find it quite hard to adopt new habits although I do think I am gradually taking my tutor’s advice on board! They are as follows:

  • From your analysis and insights: Make some clear, bullet-points as to what you aim to develop further (strengths) and what you wish to improve .  Keep referring to these as you progress through the next assignment.
  • Be more focused and specific about what you are making connections with in your research.  Draw out the specific points or connections you wish to explore and develop in your own work- make bullet points and set some aims.
  • Your tonal values are still limited at the dense, darker end; try and explore these much more through heavier gestural marks, swathes of ink or wash or built up through dense areas of marks or line.  To review these tonal qualities view the drawing through half-closed eyes, turn the drawing upside down and try viewing them in a mirror.  
  • I recommend that you continue to use your sketchbook regularly by exploring composition, mark-making and palette: monochrome & colour.  Try and use more notations, testing of marks, palette and tonal values.  Make sure that what you learn from this process you set aims to develop at the assignment outcome stage.  
  • Post photos of your visual refs to sketchbook / blog with brief notations (see Sketchbook comment)
  • Further analyse the Doig / Berg paintings I recommend, using the specific elements.  How might this analysis help you to understand possible composition, use of mark-making, palette and depth / surface qualities.  How do their and Virtue’s work explore notions of abstraction, that you say you’d like to explore.


Peter Doig regarding his compositional devices: 3rds and horizontal / vertical reflections. I also think you may find interest in his juxtapositioning when representing depth, whilst also reinforcing (painting’s) surface. Analyse these aspect of the works alongside the rich mark-making qualities, surface pattern and monochrome / high-key palette.

The Architect’s House in the Ravine

White Canoe

Ski Jacket


Adrian Berg look at and analyse his Gloucester Gate, Regent’s Park May 1980 series. There’s a strong sense of composition, mark-making and palette.  I believe there are some connections between Berg and Doig’s composition, palette and use of mark-making.

John Virtue in relation to landscape and abstraction.  This particular article by Simon Schama is of interest for various reasons, but specifically what he attempts to convey through landscape and his influences.



Part 3. Project 2. Exercise 3. 360 degree studies

15 minutes sketching an expansive landscape looking at North, East, South and West.

I was a bit dispirited by how boring these sketches were! I prefer the conte, charcoal and drawing pen sketch both because the media made it more lively and also because the composition had much more depth than the other drawings.

conte, charcoal and drawing pen. My favourite drawing out of the four.
I wanted to try a low horizon. Without colour in the sky it is very dull.
The composition is quite interesting but the use of a soft pencil makes it all a bit meh.
I like the clouds and birds – gives the image some feeling of the wind blowing. Otherwise dull composition.

Part 3. Project 2. Exercise 2. Sketchbook walk

I enjoyed the sketchbook walk but due to it being cold I only did the first sketch outside. For the other two I took photos and sketched quickly indoors. This also allowed me to chose a variety of media I wouldn’t necessarily carry on a walk.

I am fascinated by this tumble down barn. The curved corrugated iron roof has fallen in creating an unusual shape in the landscape. I intend to return and sketch this barn from a number of viewpoints
This tree and the surrounding landscape were tonally extremely dark against the very bright sky.
I like the angle looking down into the bridge arch. I have noticed I am attracted to a very tonally dark point in the landscape be it a doorway, an arch or a tree against a bright sky.

I have noticed that I tend to focus on a central dark point. Is this a weakness? I will explore different viewpoints in future sketches but maybe I need to look at where other artists place very dark points in the landscape.

To do:

  • look at other artists’ approach to tone in landscape
  • sketch the field barn from different viewpoints.

Part 3. Project 2. Exercise 1. Cloud formations and tone 

This exercise was much harder than I expected.  I started with some wet in wet watercolour.  This is a technique I haven’t really used before.

I decided to put in a horizon as the tonal contrast between land and sky emphasises the darkness on the land and the lightness of the sky. I didn’t get the land dark or sharp enough though.


I tried oil pastel. I have always found oil pastel hard to smudge, I tried blending it with some olive oil which created an interesting effect and a yellow tone which the clouds did have.

oil pastel

I tried a very sketchy effect using lines

oil pastel

I moved on to conte crayon but I found I couldn’t capture the billowyness off the clouds


I moved onto charcoal which is always great for curves and billowing


I found different material worked better with different subjects, the trees and landscape worked better with harder materials and the clouds worked better with softer materials

clouds – charcoal, landscape – conte

In this sketch I used charcoal for the clouds and conte for the landscape. I like the abstract effects of this. I spent longer on this sketch, lifting out the light in the clouds with a putty rubber.

I was itching to get the patches of blue sky into a sketch. I used chalk pastel and I really like the soft feathery effect I could get with this medium.

chalk pastel

The thing I like about the contrast of cloud and sky is the solidity of the colour in the sky contrasted with the tonal variations of the cloud. I’d like to produce a piece where this is expressed – in the following sketch, the sky is a little patchy.

chalk pastel

I loved just looking at the sky and clouds and really observing the tonal variations in the clouds.

To do: continue sketching clouds, look up oil pastel techniques.