Here is my feedback for Assignment 3, which I’m pretty pleased about however a few learning curves and some great suggestions and encouragement.
I’ll write up my feelings/responses to it very shortly.
Thank you for sending me your third assignment Georgina, which I am viewing via your blog. You are working very hard on this course and making good progress, developing an interesting quality of line and being more expressive with materials. You are clearly engaged with the landscape and this is inspiring you to develop different ways of interpreting it.
Feedback on assignment
Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity
Sketching Individual trees
You have produced some sensitive results here, emphasising movement and fragility with charcoal on crumpled paper. I particularly like your Ash tree – the creases of the paper help to add a fragmented, organic feel and although you seem frustrated by your attempts at leaves, here they are suggested quite effectively. These studies have prepared you well for the next more considered study.
Larger study of Individual tree
Your final ink study is well executed with a good awareness of tone and an effective sense of movement. The composition itself is well considered and there is an interesting use of textured marks to suggest the tree trunk. Your A3 study using compressed charcoal is also well executed with delicate linear detail.
Your initial study using mixed media is a little overworked in places – the lower trunk is rather densely described with little variation. You handle the media better in the following two studies though they are still a little dull in places. I don’t want to put you off using graphite and pastel as I think there is potential here but you should try to avoid to much rubbing and blending as the surface does quickly become quite dull. You
demonstrate an ability to use line with energy so it is these qualities that should be explored when using a range of media.
I think your studies using oil and charcoal are the least successful as there is a slightly oppressive lack of light or tonal contrast and again the surface is becoming a little dull.
Your large study using charcoal on brown paper is the strongest in this series, with it’s sensitive but confident marks and simple but well considered composition. Your watercolour and graphite studies do look a little restrained in comparison.
You have completed this exercise well. I do prefer the simple fluidity of your initial attempts using watercolour pencil and a few lines though I can see you wanted to revisit the exercise and become more engaged with it. Your second and fourth pieces from the following days studies are the most effective as these have a confident awareness of what is important about the scene. You haven’t been distracted by detail but have wanted to capture something of the essence of the landscape.
You ink and gesso pieces also have potential, I would like to see you develop this way of working in future studies.
Foreground, middle ground, background.
Yes this is a very traditional interpretation of a picturesque scene but it is beautifully rendered. As you say yourself, you want to move away from this type of image and I completely agree that you should. However, don’t underestimate the skill involved in this type of drawing and do take from it what you need to develop further. There is a delicate and effective use of shadow as well as a good understanding of tonal perspective and carefully observed detail. Having these foundations of good drawing gives you the freedom to explore and experiment.
The angles, proportions and perspective are accurate and that is primarily the point of the exercise. I can see you weren’t fully engaged and the drawing is a little pedestrian but as I am getting a sense of the type of drawings you enjoy making, I am not surprised that this was a little uninspiring. Hopefully it was useful as an exercise in looking and considering structure for when you make urban drawings.
Here you are continuing to develop an interesting and engaging interpretation of the landscape. Your soft, subdued tones are balanced with an animated line. I particularly like the dark, fragile lines you use in the foreground. You are creating a good sense of perspective without being descriptive, instead you emphasise movement and shifting light.
You continue to manipulate pastel with energetic mark making, giving these townscapes a dynamic quality. The most effective is the second piece (yellow paper) with the decisive light grey section cutting through the buildings.
It is interesting to see you consider and correct the flaws of your initial attempt at watercolour to then make a far more fluid and effective piece. The composition has
more movement and balance but there is also more awareness of the qualities of the medium and allowing the slightly random merging of colour to inform the results. It surprises me that you struggle with the medium because actually your way of working lends itself quite well to watercolour. By that I mean – a desire to capture the essence of subject/composition, an interest in fluidity and movement, expressive elements, transparency. I suggest you persevere with it and make lots of quick watercolour sketches to develop your understanding of its properties. There is a danger that you will fall into a pastel comfort zone. Yes you are developing a confident ability to use it and you should continue to explore it’s possibilities but do also keep using other, more fluid media such as ink and watercolour.
You have prepared well for this final piece, completing many landscape studies. It is good to see such thorough and thoughtful preliminary work. I do actually prefer some of these to the final drawing as they have a little more air and an economy of mark making.
The tonal range for the final piece is a little close and the sky rather dominant but this is by no means a bad drawing, it is really quite accomplished. You are continuing to employ the animated quality of line that suggests some structure but mainly movement. And you are carefully considering your palette – natural but still quite vibrant.
Something that will be worth considering as you continue – This type of work can be quite beautiful but there can also be a tendency for it to become a little overdramatic. For instance, the temptation to suggest a shaft of light pushing through storm clouds is at times hard to resist when absorbed in the desire to capture the fleeting effects of weather on the landscape. You aren’t quite doing that but I have a feeling that your work could possibly go in that direction, just because you obviously enjoy creating a sense of atmosphere and beauty. Your work is developing and you certainly have some good skills but be mindful of what could be considered an overdramatic or obviously romantic approach.
Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity
Your sketchbook walk produced some interesting results that demonstrate your continued interest in capturing the essence of a landscape. I particulate like the study of the trees/fence and the penultimate black and white piece – this has real energy. As I have mentioned, do make more studies in watercolour where you explore the transparency. This can be emphasised further if you add very opaque gouache to some areas as a contrast. Your sketches of dogs are very sensitive and you have good observational drawing skills but do keep experimenting with media. I will need to see your sketchbook in the flesh when you send me your next assignment.
Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays
It was good to read your response to the Sketch Open Drawing prize and this has clearly made you start thinking about different ways of approaching sketchbook work –
putting these ideas into practice will be an interesting challenge for you. You discuss the work of other artists with honest reflections, clearly engaging with their ideas and processes – particular those that are working with landscape. Keep developing this research to include a good range of contemporary artists.
You are expressing an interest in working in black and white. Have a look at how Ian McKeever layers white over black and/or colour in some of his paintings such as his ‘Twelve Standing’ series or ‘Hours of Darkness Hours of light’.
The next assignment focuses on the figure so look at a good range of approaches to this, historical and contemporary. Look at Jenny Saville who creates large, fleshy oil painting of the nude – she also does interesting studies in pencil and charcoal. Egon Schiele made beautifully angular and haunting images. Paula Rego’s pastel drawing are worth looking at for their sinister narrative. A dark undercurrent can also be found in the work of Ana Maria Pacheco and Chantal Joffe.
Pointers for the next assignment
You will find drawing the figure an interesting challenge which I hope you enjoy. The type of mark making you are currently employing should lend itself to quick, expressive studies. Sketching the figure in motion with an energetic line will increase you confidence in responding to the human form when you need to work on more careful studies. Attending a life drawing class will positively support your understanding of the figure.