Response to feedback on Assignment 1

Assignment 1 Feedback is a comprehensive look at how I tackled my first assignment. As I work through Assignment 2 I will be attempting to incorporate this feedback in 4 main areas.

  1. Set my intention for an exercise. Find out where my interest is.
  2. Use prep sketches to look at how I can use tone, composition, etc. to express this intention
  3. Analyse what went well and why as well as areas of improvement. Try to take this into the next exercise/assignment.
  4. Continue research using recommended articles/resources

The feedback points out that I focus on the areas that I think need improvement rather than the areas where I am working well so I’ll round up the areas I’m working well first, then go on to areas I will be focusing on improving.

Areas I am working well

  • asking questions as I go on
  • good beginnings at experimenting with approaches, media and techniques
  • reflecting on observation and acquiring drawing skills
  • bringing in personal aims and ideas outside course material
  • learning from exercises
  • using thumbnail compositions to make quick, informed decisions
  • learning about composition from research and practice
  • Assignment 1 drawing contained: “some well-observed, sensitive mark-making across the jar and brushes and a subtle and simple approach to the ring and shell.”
  • “You have approached the assignment with thought and consideration with regard to choice of media, selection of objects in relation to your research and reflections on vanitas genre and also a personal narrative content.”
  • Good use of sketchbook to make prep drawings
  • Continue the succinct yet useful notations alongside prep drawings
  • Using my blog to reflect on my research

Areas to focus on improving

  • regular practice and exploration of techniques
  • look at tonal values during preparatory sketches
  • attempt to solve problems I find in my work, take that forward into planning work for the next exercise.
  • look at what works as well as what doesn’t
  • Expand upon sketchbook prep work by setting my own specific aims for the assignment. Draw in series – for example: 6-8 thumbnails to explore composition, tonal values and negative space; 4-6 thumbnails to explore how the object/subject sits or fills the page; 6-8 small loose drawings to explore mark-making qualities in relation to lighting/tonal qualities
  • Use the constructively critical way I approach others work in my analysis of my own work. See OCA study guide “Looking at Artists”
  • set some intentions and aims for my own work. Ask broad questions about my intentions when beginning a drawing and ask similar questions when looking at others work.
  • Harvard reference all research

Suggested reading/viewing

Context

www.drawingcenter.org  Research through current and past exhibitions.  Red Drawing Papers no: 128 Cecily Brown’s Rehearsal and Paper : 117 on ‘Small’ are good starting points.

https://drawingroom.org.uk/

‘FOUND’ Cornelia Parker curated exhibition ( Aug – Sept 2016) at The Foundling Museum.

Pointers for the next assignment

  • Reflect and act on the suggestions and recommendations throughout the feedback.
  • Set yourself some specific aims to apply to your own drawings.
  • Reflect upon both what works / what doesn’t work in equal measure- then set some aims to develop and enhance both aspects.
  • Expand upon the preparatory drawings: work across a number of thumbnail sketches to explore tonal values, relationship between object / subject and negative space, mark-making qualities (in addition to composition).
  • Suggested reading / viewing (as above) and reflect on these on your blog.

Feedback from Assignment 1 from Tutor Cheryl Huntbach

Overall Comments

Thank you for your submission of Assignment 1. You submitted a well organised and thoughtfully edited portfolio, a supporting blog archiving research and commentary on process, media and range of exercises.

Throughout the feedback I have made some recommendations on approaches to media, process and critical analysis: your work and research.  It will benefit your progress to act on these and reflect on the benefits or otherwise on your blog.

You have a methodical and committed approach to experimenting with different media and recording the process.  

You have made a good start to researching with reference to historical and 21st century research.  You ask questions of yourself and others, exploring a more open inquiry rather than sticking with assumption.

You’re using the blog to track your progress and to reflect upon your use of media and technique.  There is more scope to reflect on the connections between your breadth of research, your own learning and potential.

There are some experimental approaches to exploring tonal values in creating three-dimensional form.  In observing and conveying objects you have attempted to explore and communicate differing surface and material qualities.  You’re noticing and exploring how to communicate reflective and transparent matter.  Good beginings here, regular practice and further exploration will improve these effects.

In some of the drawings you pay more attention to the objects and less to the space in-between, foreground and background.  Here it would be beneficial to revisit some of your research: Morandi for example.

You are clearly reflecting on your observation and acquiring drawing skills with an open, inquiring approach .  At assignment 1 it is very good to see that you are bringing in some personal aims and projects outside of the course material.  

Assignment 1 Assessment potential

You may want to get credit for your hard work and achievements with the OCA by formally submitting your work for assessment at the end of the module. More and more people are taking the idea of lifelong learning seriously by submitting their work for assessment but it is entirely up to you. We are just as keen to support you whether you study for pleasure or to gain qualifications. Please consider whether you want to put your work forward for assessment and let me know your decision when you submit Assignment 2. I can then give you feedback on how well your work meets the assessment requirements.

Feedback on assignment

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

An expansive range of monochrome media has been utilised in the preparatory drawings and the final outcome.  

These work best when you’ve explored and conveyed  texture, surface and reflective qualities and form through specific mark-making and handling processes.  You’ve clearly reflected on and learned from the exercises and projects, which you’ve then fed into the assignment itself.

With regards to the preparatory works; you’ve explored differing compositions, mark-making qualities and varied tonal values (especially in the background / negative space).

Some simple, concise analysis on the thumbnail compositions has helped you to make quick, informed decisions.  You are clearly learning about composition from your research and practice.

In future consideration at the prep stage for the range of tonal values: in the background and foreground would also be useful. (see Pointers).  Half-closing eye at this stage may help you to break these down.  Also focussing upon the negative space only to first lay-down tonal values.

‘Lots of things that I’m not sure about in this picture’:  Being ‘unsure’ is a normal and acceptable state of being, especially when learning new processes and approaches.  

You make judgements on your work that suggest you’re dissatisfied with some elements, yet offer no problem solving or alternative approaches i.e: ‘messy’ background, edge of books and image too small.  Ask yourself how you might have planned: the composition, placement on the paper, the range, balance and dynamic of the tonal values across the work?  (see Pointers)

It would be useful to spend some time reflecting on the analysis of what works / doesn’t work- in equal balance.  Then set some aims as to how these might be developed further or addressed.  I suggest that this will be helpful to recognise both emerging strengths and qualities to be further explored, as well as weaknesses to be developed and problem-solved.  (see Pointers)

Some well-observed and sensitive mark-making across the jar and brushes.  You’ve captured and conveyed both a play of light and qualities of transparency in the jar.  There is a both a subtle and simple approach to the ring and shell.

You have approached the assignment with thought and consideration with regard to choice of media, selection of objects in relation to your research and reflections on vanitas genre and also a personal narrative content.

Sketchbooks

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

Good use of your sketchbook to make notational prep drawing, with concise analysis of compositions.

It would benefit your development to expand upon this prep.  Set some specific aims of your own around the assignment work.  Pursue the prep by drawing in series before you begin a final drawing, for example:

6 – 8  small, thumbnail sketches to explore tonal values, negative space (in addition to different compositions or viewpoints)- work out the more interesting composition and tones before you start.

4 – 6 small, thumbnails to explore how the object / subject sits or fills the page.  Test out portrait / landscape format.

6 – 8  small loose drawings to explore mark-making qualities in relation to  lighting / tonal qualities- to test out the varying qualities of tone and marks across the drawing.  (see Pointers)

Continue the succinct yet useful notations alongside the prep drawings- these will aid your thinking and visual analysis at each stage of the planning and drawing process.

Research

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis  

You’re using your blog well to reflect on your eclectic research.  A very diverse range of both primary and secondary sources.

Harvard referenced research.

You seem more constructively critical when analysing the work of others; considering elements that work / strengths and elements that don’t work / weaknesses.  How might you bring a similar balanced analysis to your own work?  Could you utilise the OCA study guide looking at artists… to your own work?  (see Pointers)

The research and inquiry is thoughtful, so now it is timely to think of how you might apply or reflect on the content, context and qualities in your own work?

Set some intentions and aims for your future drawings- applying your research to your work.  (see Pointers)

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis  

You’ve made a good start to using your blog as an archive for your research, reflections and learning process.  Maintaining this practice whilst feeding your curiosity and exploring the practice of drawing is essential for your development.

You understand that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ approach to drawing, though there’s a tendency to focus on what doesn’t work: this is a great opportunity to problem-solve.  In addition to not repeating the process or strategy,  consider how you might not do / do something else.  Follow this problem-solving by trying out your new ideas and approaches. (see Pointers)

You are using both trial & error, research and analysis to underpin and feed into your learning.  By reflecting on your blog regularly, this is supporting how you think and also how you draw.

You are reflecting on your learning throughout.  What would be useful is to take these thoughts and insights forward – Set yourself some specific aims to apply to your drawings.  This will help you to develop and deepen your autonomy and personal voice.  (see Pointers)

Begin to ask some broad questions / intentions (as suggested in Research) about what your intentions may be when beginning a drawing (& ask similar questions when reading or looking at others’ work).  Try this approach out and record your reflections on your blog.

Suggested reading/viewing

Context

www.drawingcenter.org  Research through current and past exhibitions.  Red Drawing Papers no: 128 Cecily Brown’s Rehearsal and Paper : 117 on ‘Small’ are good starting points.

https://drawingroom.org.uk/

‘FOUND’ Cornelia Parker curated exhibition ( Aug – Sept 2016) at The Foundling Museum.

Pointers for the next assignment

  • Reflect and act on the suggestions and recommendations throughout the feedback.
  • Set yourself some specific aims to apply to your own drawings.
  • Reflect upon both what works / what doesn’t work in equal measure- then set some aims to develop and enhance both aspects.
  • Expand upon the preparatory drawings: work across a number of thumbnail sketches to explore tonal values, relationship between object / subject and negative space, mark-making qualities (in addition to composition).
  • Suggested reading / viewing (as above) and reflect on these on your blog.

Please inform me of how you would like your feedback for the next assignment.   Written or video/audio

Well done, I look forward to your next assignment.

 

Still life. Exercise 4. Monochrome 

For this piece I used pastel on black paper. I wanted to look at the structures of the plants which I find fascinating. I love the fleshiness of succulents and the orchid’s odd roots. I wanted to create a relationship between the two plants so looked at composition in my sketchbook. I also explored the use of shades of green in my sketchbook.

wp-image-1773425709jpg.jpg

I put the plants on a bread bin to create a plinth.

I found it a challenge to reflect changes of tone using different coloured pastels but I am pleased with the result.  I like the space between the plants which I think creates a relationship between them. The slightly ghostly pastels create an otherworldly, odd look to the plants which reflects how odd and mysterious I find them. There was a real temptation to use pink on the orchid’s inner sepals which are really pink. I decided to stick with the monochrome but will explore this in another drawing.

The drawing is a bit rough. While the sketchiness gives it an energy, it looks a bit unfinished. I didn’t want to keep working on it in case I overworked it but this may also be something to look at in a future drawing.

The background already had a bit of red pastel on it which had rubbed off from another drawing. I left it and added some crumbling of white and green pastel. While leaving the red on the background in place might be “cheating” in a monochrome it gives an interesting compliment to the green and livens up the background too.

Research Point – the still life genre

The first examples of still life come from Greek and Roman frescoes where they are used to show some of the good things in life.

In Europe,  the Middle Ages saw little still life painting as art was seen as there to glorify God not material possessions.

It was Caravaggio who painted the first still life of the Renaissance.

Image result for caravaggio basket of fruit biblioteca
Basket of fruit, 1596, Caravaggio

The diseased fruit and leaves hold a key theme of still life that of the passing of time, of death and decay and the impermanence of earthly possessions. This picture encompasses many of the traditions of western still life. The focus on impermanence,  the light shining from the left, the modest items, the edge of the table and the undecorated background.

Another key development which allowed still life painting to flourish was the development of oil paint in the 15th century which allowed painters to create the depth of tones and highlights required to create realistic still life images.

Meanwhile, in the Netherlands,  a wealthy, protestant merchant class turned to art to demonstrate their wealth and status.  Religious imagery was seen as iconoclastic so artists turned to the beauty of flowers, polished plate and sparkling glass.

Still Life with a Gilt Cup by Willem Claesz Heda, 1635 in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, is an example of this type of still life. Heda produces astonishing detail and tonal variation in a piece which is predominantly shades of grey with yellow, green and gold. The gilt, pewter and ornamental glass objects are richly decorated with oysters and damask on the table.

Flowers were also a major still life theme. Floral Still Life  1639 by Hans Bollongier features tulips along with unseasonal flowers such as roses and carnations. The painting was made two years after the stock market crash which saw many who had invested in tulip bulbs go bankrupt. It may be less a celebration of wealth than a meditation on the transience of earthly possessions.

Religious images were frowned on, but those reflecting on mortality and the transience of life were seen as morality tales and featured skulls, shells, musical instruments and books. The painting Vanitas Still Life, 1648, Jan Jansz Trek features objects which reflect the transience of life and the futility of human ambition.

“They include a skull wreathed in straw, an hourglass, an extinguished pipe and tapers, musical instruments (a flute, a viol and bow), a black lacquer box and a Rhenish stoneware jug (both collectors’ items), a book of music and a drawing, a shell and a straw used for blowing bubbles, and a helmet. The title-page is of a play by Theodore Rodenburgh (about 1578 – 1644) which was published in Amsterdam in 1618; it can be translated into English as ‘Evil is its own reward’.” (from National Gallery, London website).

Fixed size image
Vanitas Still Life, 1648, Jan Jansz Treck, National Gallery, London

While art has traditionally been closed to women who were not allowed to paint nudes, or study formally, still life was an area where they could excel and several did, possibly contributing to still life’s continued position as the lowest status art form.

In the 17th century Italy, Giovanna Garzoni painted delicate still lifes of fruit, vegetables and flowers favouring egg tempura on vellum. She enjoyed considerable success. Still Life with Bowl of Citrons shows her characteristic acute observation and delicate handling of paint.

No description available
Still life with bowl of citrons, Giovanna Garzoni, c.1640, J Paul Getty Museum

In France, Louise Moillon, was also painting still lifes. In Still Life with a Bowl of Curacao Oranges, 1634, the arrangement of fruit is in many ways strikingly similar to Garzoni’s arrangement but the stronger tonal contrasts ally Moillon’s work to Dutch painters of the time.

Still Life with Bowl of Curacao Oranges
Still Life with a Bowl of Curacao Oranges, 1634, Louise Moillon, Norton Simon Museum

In 1669 the Royal Academy of Art in France announced a hierarchy of genres placing still life firmly at the bottom. Art theoretician Andre Felibien, Secretary to the French Academy ranked the genres as follows. 1) Historical painting; 2) Portraiture; 3) Genre painting; 4) Landscapes: 5) Still Life.

In the 18th century Chardin was not deterred by this lowly status.  He painted simple, everyday objects and showed they were beautiful. He also advanced the techniques of still life painting with several points of focus in his paintings,  and a slight blur in other areas reflecting the way the human eye sees.

Basket of grapes, silver goblet and bottle, before 1728, Jean-Simeon Chardin, Musee du Louvre

At the same time,  Anne Vallayer Coster achieved the remarkable feat of joining the French Academy of Arts in 1770, one of only four women to do so before the French Revolution.

 

Still Life with marine plants, shells and corals, 1769, Anne Vallayer Coster, Musee du Louvre

In Chardin’s blurring and focus we can see some of the value of the still life to an artist who wants to explore how we see. By focusing on a few simple objects, we can test what seeing is, like a controlled experiment in a laboratory. This is what Cezanne did in a major development for modern art which led to cubism and abstraction.

 

References

Apples, Pears and Paint: How to Make a Still Life Painting was an excellent documentary from BBC4 no longer available on iplayer but can be found on vimeo https://vimeo.com/158081593

http://www.nortonsimon.org

http://www.getty.edu/

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/

http://www.rijksmuseum.nl

http://womenshistory.about.com/

http://www.louvre.fr/

 

Jonathan Bachman image from Black Lives Matter protest in New Orleans

​http://www.jonathanbachmanphotography.com/portfolio#I0000sZkFxBf9PNs

I was struck by this image. It has an immense power. I am interested in working out how the image communicates that power.

The immediate feeling is of a frozen moment in time centred around the upright and calm stillness of the protester Iesha Evans. She is wearing a flowing, long dress which exposes her arms, back and legs. She looks like a goddess in classical art. The contrast with the heavily armoured police officers is striking. They are caught in mid-movement but almost seem to be pushed away by her force.

Behind the officers is a line of identically dressed officers while behind the protester is an open grassy area where people sit or stand and observe.

Between the two officers and the protester there is a crack in the road. The officers carry handcuffs and batons while she wears jewellery and has a patterned dress and shoes. She is holding her phone. I love the fact she is wearing glasses – to see clearly. 

Part 2. Project 2. Exercise 1. Still life using line.

part-2-project-2-exercise-2

For this piece I tried to draw using no tone at all, just surface texture and shape. I also tried not to outline the object but to express its shape using the pattern of its surface. It was quite good fun as an exercise but I’m not sure if there is any advantage to drawing in this way. It was too frustrating not being able to use tone.

I also changed the angle from the last few drawings – looking down on the arrangement gave more of a view of the grain of the wooden objects.  I changed the view of the arrangement to the side of the tray which I think makes it more dynamic than the front. I also used a dip pen and ink rather than a drawing pen which gives the drawing a rougher finish. Using a dip pen is closer to painting than using a pen.

 

Part two. Project 1. Exercise 1. Detail and tone

I enjoyed this exercise. I found I instinctively scribbled roughly into the shape then used more organised lines to work in the dark tones. I also used different types of line for different textures. Longer, smoother lines for the bare areas, rougher lines for the bark and lichen.

I think these were quite effective drawings. The shadow in the second picture gives it a sense of being grounded that the first image doesn’t have.