There is plentiful evidence of a holistic engagement in your submitted work. You do draw things, people and environments because you are interested in visually recording these. As a result there is extra curricular work in your sketchbook. You also are very careful in organizing your work, so it is clear to OCA assessors which of your material submitted responds to the course work for respective assignment preparation.
Whilst sketchbook work is rich and engaged, I would like to see further engagement with history and theory of art in a more focused and more academically rigorous way. Evidently you are looking at other artists, and choose to engage with their practice by doing your own drawings from them. This is valuable and at times has led to some sensitive visual interpretation. However, I also need to see that you are reading high quality texts about art, these texts may be from Tate or National Gallery or other Museum website info, or from University websites or other creditable sources. Books, magazines are also of interest here. Your engagement can take the form of a diary entry, or respond more formally to ‘check and log’ areas of OCA manual. Some of this you already do very well – see below feedback on log, other areas may need more attention.
In your final large scale drawings I recommend that you also try a larger quantity of better quality papers, these may include watercolour papers with NOT or HOT PRESS drawing surfaces, and tonal papers like INGRES (useful for fugitive media like Pastel and Crayon). Do not overly worry which pieces in a sequence of final drawings are ‘final’, but pick a selection of what you consider best for discussion with your tutor or peers first? You can then consider the feedback and make a decision on ‘final piece’ subsequently to your feedback. This would also allow you to implement tutor feedback in your evaluation.
Feedback on assignment
Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity
Use of Materials/ media/ techniques; observational skill; Visual Awareness:
Your large scale (A2) drawing for final assignment is an interesting compromise of options you explored in preparation. For me this is the true ‘winner’ of what you submit for assignment. Here you successfully combine monochromatic background of the urban and man-made or landscaped environment with the architectural organic form of the pot plant. Thereby you have created a dramatic tension between definitions of nature and culture, and contributed to questioning such boundaries.Your preparatory thumbnail sketches and analytical exploration in sketchbook also through mind maps are a valid way of working and show in depth engagement. This preparatory form of visual thinking is excellent. You create a sense of atmosphere and mood, sometimes more so in your freer preparation sketches. Your technical understanding of media is competent, but there is room to explore further the relationship of drawing media to different paper surfaces, weights and substance, although you begin to do so in your atmospheric colour block study which is one of my favourite drawings as it is quite painterly and free. Your understanding of perspective is evident. Your assignment studies exemplify that you have understood the main points delivered in this part of the course, and that you have found an accumulative outcome for these learning outcomes. (Perspective, atmosphere, plein air, natural form). However, I slightly disagree with your choice of final drawing, which whilst finely rendered, does not deliver the same strength of concept and atmosphere as the A2 drawing. Your final drawing in coloured pencils is more architectural and illustrative, and has many positive points, but appears somewhat over cautious in comparison to some of the much more exciting developmental work. You may want to consider re-evaluating your choice of final, but whatever you do, make sure you eventually include the complete range of developmental work for assessment.
Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity
These are plentiful and range back to the previous project. It has been useful for me to see your working methods also for previous projects in part 2 (tutor change? NB for assessors). Evidently you also enjoy drawing animals (your dog) and people, this being of use for the next part you are already completing: drawing the human figure.
You combine mind mapping and textual exploration with visual project approaches and also supply an observational log. I wonder who you might find it if you were to run a separate sketchbook only for observation? This may allow for a continuity of a subject matter and even for narrative formats. Concertina sketchbooks are excellent for this, but if you don’t want to order one of those online, then you could explore this in traditional sketchbooks also. For the figure project this would allow for figure in motion (also think if Muybridge’s Human Locomotion in this context- you may be able to get this through library or see HYPERLINK “http://www.eadweardmuybridge.co.uk/muybridge_image_and_context/human_figure_in_motion/” http://www.eadweardmuybridge.co.uk/muybridge_image_and_context/human_figure_in_motion/). Or you could track the movement of someone walking, dancing, or several short posed in succession. This as an optional guidance idea for your development for part 4.)
In your sketchbooks you address relatively systematically the various projects you were meant to cover for part 3. There is also some fine drawing as extracurricular activity included – like the Farming landscape in pencil at the very beginning of sketchbook 1. Pages 21 and 23 contain expressive plein air studies exploring colour, markmaking and monochromatic approaches to landscape. Sketchbook walk shows a free spirited project approach where you combine different coloured base papers with graphite, biro and charcoal. You explore creating your own backgrounds through preparation and techniques reminiscent of marbling. This is promising and may need further evaluation in assignment or project resolution as you are not fully benefitting from your research (for example into the use of backlighting or coloured ground).
360 Degree – this appears a little unloved and rushed as an exercise. Here something like a concertina sketchbook, or a home-made concertina might be of use. You can then unfold the four views into a continuous sequence. Likewise I would have liked to see more evidence of cloud observation, through a range of drawing media and also different papers. (However, I noted a few more successful examples on your blog – so that is probably ok now, I am still not fully sure how often you tried to draw from observation rather than photos?). For example working with pencil on tracing paper creates a wonderful cloud effect (see Vija Celmins for carefully copied clouds from photos, see Constable for wonderful colour studies of clouds from observation).
Plotting space through Composition: evidently you enjoyed this more and there are some fine composition thumbnail experiments to be found on page 39 and 40. P 44 shows a very finely rendered drawing of a timbered building, this is a good use of pen and ink or fine liner and here the dramatic use of viewpoint and angular perspective creates a good dynamic. Your perspective exercises are sound.
Tree Studies: here you return towards a more painterly and experimental approach, combining some of this with fine liner and graphic markmaking. Your interpretation of Constable’s study of a tree is a fine homage and a freely handled copy. I wonder if this may start influencing your own approach to observation and composition? On page 60 you explore a different format- in principle a great idea. You may also want to look up Gustav Klimt’s paintings of birchwood forests for an unusual handling of such a subject matter. HYPERLINK “http://www.klimt.com/en/gallery/landscapes/klimt-birkenwald-1903.ihtml” http://www.klimt.com/en/gallery/landscapes/klimt-birkenwald-1903.ihtml
Study of Townscapes using line: you are clearly loving your fine liner studies and show confidence in handling perspective and townscapes in an illustrative way. You demonstrate critical awareness as you recognize that some of these are a little conventional. On page 63 you show three studies of townscapes, two of those with high potential for further development. One depicts an industrial building (a mill perhaps or storage building), the other a house of suburban apartments. Both are very interesting. The exploration of industrial landscape and the exploration of suburbia – for the latter I highly recommend George Shaw’s drawing, watercolour and paintings of Coventry housing estates. You comment on use of photo instead of observation. I can’t stress enough how important learning from observation is as a skills building exercise. This need not exclude the creative use of photos for research at a more mature stage of your development as artist throughout your studies with OCA. But the emphasis of drawing 1 is almost exclusively on observation.
P 63 charcoal study also avoids clichés and is atmospheric and freely handled.
When you explore the industrial theme further on pages 67 and 68 you do not create the same atmosphere. The use of colour seems to trivialize the stark potential of the theme. By contrast p 70 of a Canal view is more successful – here you use an impressionistic and quite colourful, almost expressionistic approach to townscape.
Sketchbook 2 devotes many pages to drawing animals, a topic you appear enthusiastic about. (This was for assignment 2 so I should not really comment but let me just say a few things here as animals also belong to landscape: Drawing horses is really difficult and so I believe you have made a real effort in capturing their character through observational drawing. The double page spread on page 3 and 4 has a Chauvet cave quality to it. Sleeping dog studies are animated and expressive and show considerable understanding of animal form and texture of fur. The line drawings on pages 11 and 12 are delightful and make me think that this is your dog and you love him/ her. In particular the colour pencil study with the sleepy expression is sensitive. Here I find the yellow background distracting, and you need to assess in how far these coloured backgrounds contribute positively to your subject matter. It works ok for the fine liner black on yellow, but I sense that the colour pencil study would sit better on a pale white paper, to bring out the subtleties of the colouring. On page 14 the overall framing or positive /negative relationship does not fully work but the drawing of the dog itself is good. The use of pastel and colour on pages 15 and 16 does not work – it is too undifferentiated, you are not capitalizing on your mark making and texture skills acquired in the previous observations, and the positive negative ration is not convincing. Again I am not convinced that the coloured streaky background contributes here.) Back to your part 3 drawings:
Pages 21 ff – sketchbook walk. Here your expressivity and love for emotive handling of line and colour works well. The red field on page 21 is intriguing and make me think of Gauguin and Van Gogh. The cloud study below stretching across p 21 and 22 is much stronger than the work in sketchbook 1. The high sky is well chosen for this topic, this is a satisfying composition. Pages 23 and 24 show a highly interesting rendering of a landscape – somewhat it reminds me a little of German painter Anselm Kiefer. The mark making is wonderfully free and expressive and very painterly, but I could see such a study also working well in print (for example litho or monoprint).
P 26 Plotting Space: a very interesting viewpoint and even more interesting handling of colour reminiscent of the Fauves painters. You could crop the top off a little and bring down the horizon line to where the frame of the outcrop ends?
Drawing statues: here you show a very different personality to the expressive person above – in particular page 35 shows a fine analytical and academic eye for human proportion and modeling, and good handling of tone, highlights and shadow to create a sense of volume.
Sketchbook 3 primarily addresses your development for assignment piece, but let me talk about approaches you have explored additionally, but chosen not to use for your assignment sequence in the end. Page 15 – this is a very satisfying interior study Sleeping Dog Below Window and a very promising topic. Is something like this worth returning to for part 5 where you can specialize and choose your own topic? The combination of pencil with red pencil or red bole (?) is a useful way of creating cold and warm lines and tonal areas. It makes the study sit in between a limited palette study and monochromatic drawing. The perspective and viewpoint is fascinating as the viewer is oscillating between wanting to look out of the window, and wanting to look at the sleeping dog. The window bars the view outside, perhaps as it is dark, or if not, there is only schematic form describing ambiguously the environment. This creates a very strong tension between inside and outside, a sense of being locked inside yet glimpsing a world below. This world ‘below’ perhaps nature, or an escape, is mirrored in the dog – perhaps he also dreams of a walk or the outside? The array of potplants explore further a tension between natural and man-made structures. Really interesting topic! (You mention in the blog that you had to keep the family peace and so were not able to continue with this topic? Not sure what to make of this…)
Other possibilities you explore here in this sketchbook are also interesting, in particular the expressive and economic use of charcoal and erase for earth works page 19. Here I am a little reminded of Auerbach’s use of eraser and pencil.
Page 21 ink wash drawing – this is quite shocking in its use of colour and thereby avoids ‘tweeness’ and tendency of line and wash to look so conservative. Again interesting potential for such a format of combining painting with line. Your homage to Laura Oldfield is a wonderfully sensitive translation of her work. Thanks for introducing me to this artist’s work – I find it quite inspirational as it apparently combines the fine sensitive detailed line of Romantic artists like Turner, CD Friedrich or Ruskin with the brutality of contemporary industrial architecture. Page 24 – here you apply what you have learned form her to your own subject matter and assignment preparation and this appears a very successful strategy. There is greater freedom in your mark making and the handling of biro is more emotive and less constraint or overcautious then in what you refer to as your final assignment drawing. I wonder if you might want to consider doing biro drawings as assignment pieces? Also you may enjoy looking at John Virtue’s work, in particular his more finely rendered studies of landscape prior to his large scale more masculine paintings of London.
Below: John Virtue Three Studies Landscape HYPERLINK “http://www.invaluable.com/artist/virtue-john-r5fbw793ug” http://www.invaluable.com/artist/virtue-john-r5fbw793ug
Your attempt to use Pisarro’s pointillism to look at urban landscape is also interesting, but it needs further digestion and also some consideration in how far this particular approach to colour is relevant to your subject and also our times?
Below on page 28 you show a painterly pastel study of your view at 5 am – this works very well.
Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays
I took note of your self-evaluation of assignment piece and development. In principle I would not disagree with most of your comments. Interesting that you noted yourself that your final study lacked something. Perhaps it is that freedom and emotiveness you are able to demonstrate at times so successfully in some of your sketchbooks work? I agree that your ‘set up’ is creative and inventive. You explored a range of other interesting options here I have commented on above. The fact that you find it relatively easy to develop interesting subject matter which is not so conventional is great.
In your context studies you have introduced me to Laura Oldfield Ford – an excellent find which combines well with George Shaw I recommended you to look at above.
You write from a personal perspective in your blog which is fine when you talk about your own impressions. Just be careful though when you paraphrase a website or other information which has not been phrased by you, you must put this into quotation marks and give a reference of where you got this writing from (website URL, an author a book title a page number, depending on the format or origin of your research). So the paragraph “Laura Oldfeild Ford, artist, phychogeographer, and some time political activist, has now moving on to a new project. For her 2013 Stanley Picker Fellowship project she will be looking at disaffected areas around London Surrey borders. She hopes to collect folk tales, collective memory, the politics of contemporary protest along with the physical marks in the landscape” does not sound like your own evaluation or phrasing . You have to be really clear about which bits of text are based on your own observation and which bits are derived from others, this will become more important when you write essays.
Then you conclude – and I assume this is your own writing: “The area is undergoing regeneration. The landscape is a changing. Perhaps the development and the way I feel about it is something I could bring to my drawings.
So how do I feel about the on going development? A sense of lose. A sense of new beginnings. Fear of the unknown. I am torn between nature and progress. I am saddened by mans never ending urban sprawl across the plant. At the same time I live here. It has provided me with a nice home. My own little warren/bolt hole. So I feel hypocritical. On the one hand saddened by the lose of natural habitats. On the other happy to have my own human habitat to live in. It was farm land before so already taken form nature. although many species live more comftabaly with farm land than the urban environment. The new landscape is undoubtedly suburban. How might I give a feeling on surberbia using colour and texture? How could I bring in a sense of the farm land that is lost?”
I very much like the thoughtfulness of your entry here and your reflective and quite poetic writing style – your concerns evidently come across in your submission of drawings. Good to see such a depth approach to the way you develop your own subject matter in art.
Your reflections of your development of assignment 3 is strong and considered.
Other blog entries show your depth of engagement intellectually and through context research. So for example the choice of Mstislav Dobuzhinsky, another artist I was not familiar with but I can see that relevant for you. Ivan Shishkin also relevant. Your preliminary research is quite wide-ranging – perhaps too wide ranging? I wonder how useful it is in the end to have such a broad portfolio of contexts, hugely varying in style, approach, subject matter, cultural and political vantage point. I realise this was preparation for you, but I wonder if you might consider ‘less is more’ approach in future, where you allow yourself to select maybe up to three artists who relate to each other or to your work for a range of reasons which maybe technical, or on grounds of subject matter. You can then compare and contrast, and allow yourself more depth with individual picture analyses. Finding common denominators may also be an interesting analytical project. I noted from looking further on that you did that with Dürer and also with Monet more successfully, these entries are kind of monographs on those artists. With those blog entries I just want to ask you to be more discerning about sources and to differentiate more clearly your own writing and evaluation from quoted or paraphrased sources you consulted. Also consider using your local library to check books. A good starting point for an overarching history of art might be E H Gombrich’s Story of Art, or a different approach combining technical guidance with contextual information is M Krug An Artist’s Handbook.
Apparently OCA does not like students using Wiki sources – so if possible try and focus on websites from authoritative sources like museums, universities, art journals online, Macmillan dictionary of painters, Victoria and Albert Museum visual database, Bridgeman library. It takes a little longer but once you have located an image through a search engine you can mostly find a more reputable website source than wiki or private blog entries, if you spend the time online to do so. Reputable means that the origin of the website is factual and compiled by authorities on the subject. So this also disqualifies other people’s blogs – as interesting as they can be, unless the blog forms part of a research project of academic importance. (for example you can find a blog on V&A website, and often artists in residence with major museum use blogs as a means of communication to the public). It is really complicated, so just try your best, and perhaps vary your diet of sources by reading the occasional book or art journal (for example Modern Painters, Art Monthly, etc). Other book recommendations? Perhaps something to discuss over a Skype tutorial or in connection with your final project and part 5? We will need to discuss the format of this anyhow, but you better finish part 4 first.
Just to say that there are many other sections in your blog which deserve further feedback, but I am running out of steam. I tried to pick the most interesting aspects out of your blog entries to offer a balance of feedback for project development, self evaluation and context research approaches. It may be useful for me if you could add hyperlinks for each separate blog entry to your already very thorough guide through a project development. I have found the mosaid type of layout of the blog a little overwhelming – a chronological format would be easier to follow. However, if you were to list the hyperlinks for each entry on a different sheet, I can easily get round that problem. This is best sent by attachment, as I can then just click on the link and it should open up.
Pointers for the next assignment – this is already well on the way I believe and I have seen some examples of your life drawing work on blog and in your sketchbooks. Please do email me to discuss progress or any problems you may encounter prior to submission. I already sent you notes for drawing the figure – a handout I have attached to an email exchange. As you are interested in more academic drawing you should have no shortage of examples from Michelangelo to Augustus John. Perhaps vary this diet with something fresher like my favourite recommendation Richard Diebenkorn (put in life drawing with his name so you get the right info- as he also did a lot of landscape work). I recommend that we have a skype tutorial or longer email conversation or exchange prior to your committing to your final project in part 5 and discuss your approach to this section?