Assignment 4: Tutor Feedback

Overall Comments

I think this is one of the most challenging assignments. It is very difficult to draw from the figure without regular life drawing practice. Well done for deciding to draw yourself rather than use photographs. I don’t feel you were as comfortable with this assignment as you have been with the previous ones. but you have clearly put a lot of effort into the exercises and reflected on the results.  Well done for keeping up the commitment. 


From the evidence of this assignment you can express yourself with wet materials. In fabric with line and form you trusted your intuition with the materials and produced simple and expressive drawings. You selected what was necessary and no more, with practice your proportions will improve. 


*Keep on pushing your mark making. At the moment there is too much reliance on contour lines when drawing the figure and a tendency to decorate rather than describe the surface. Try to bring a sense of touch into your drawings; this could be by being more robust with your materials or by trying to imagine the sensations of the surfaces, weight and mass of what you’re drawing. 


*More than in the previous assignments you are drawing what you think is there, suspend what you know to discover what you see. Trust your intuition more. Try to take more risks and be more imaginative in your outcomes allow yourself to begin to develop your personal voice. 




I understand your aim is to go for the Creative Arts Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have shown in this assignment, providing you commit yourself to the course, I believe you have the potential to succeed at assessment.  In order to meet all the assessment criteria, there are certain areas you will need to focus on, which I will identify in my feedback with asterisks. 

Feedback on assignment 


Physicality – Try working out the technical aspects, ratio of head to body, where the weight is, where the tension is, by making quick sketches. Do some of these just looking at the model not looking at the paper. Then hold this information in your head whilst you make a longer drawing and try to feel the form of the person you observing, almost as if you were stroking them with your hand to draw them. Also try to imagine yourself inside their body and feel where the weight is, where the tension is and what the dynamic shape of the pose is. Closing your eyes can help. 


Line – Good preparatory drawings, which I think have helped the strong sense of narrative in the final drawing. Look at the range of qualities of the different lines in the sketch to explore hand near face and see how these make the drawing dynamic. More so than your final piece. This drawing doesn’t have the same quality or eloquence of line as many of your quick expressive drawings. *The dark lines appear to stop and start rather than vary in intensity; they look a little contrived as if you added them later. I feel they come from your head rather than your eyes and hand. Look back at your quick sketches to see how you realise that variation in line as a result of looking and exploring. 


I think it would have benefitted from you leaving the history of your explorations, see my comments in pointers for next assignment below. People tend to think that line drawings have to be very clean and precise not so.


Tone – Well done for going for the foreshortening option but as you say in your reflection it hasn’t quite come off. Your analysis is good and your final comment important:


  1. *I will also build up the image more slowly and try to leave it at stages in order to get more distance from the image as it develops.  
  2. *The artist in the book that inspired the idea achieved his drawing using a much looser framework of marks,


It would be worth you doing a repeat drawing, forget about the tone, just to get the proportions right. Why did you try to avoid smudging, this could have helped you create a more coherent drawing in terms of relationship between surface and form. *I think your concentration on the mark making has distracted you from the shape and proportions of the figure and you have got lost in the surface. You say you under time pressure and may have felt you’d done your explorations in the preparatory studies. *Try to treat each drawing as a new exploration even though you may be bringing to it a lot of observation and information from sketches. 





Good to see you drawing when out an about. I especially like the investigations on the concert programme and the cellists. There are some accomplished drawings e.g. Santo Stefano in Venice. 


Gesture drawings and 10 minutes drawings (your email attachments)

I agree with your comments about the role of context when drawing from life, but the drawings from photographs are looser and more dynamic than the ones from the life class. In the life class drawings you are over reliant on contour lines for the figures and are focusing too much on particular parts of the anatomy. In the drawings from photographs your lines run all over the body exploring it’s surface and form, these are more interesting drawings. 


Gesture drawing with large sticks of charcoal

Good use of charcoal to find and express the essentials of movement. You are the right track with the worked drawing, it is usually more important that a drawing succeeds in its own right as an image, than it is to be a technically accurate representation. 



There are always contradictions in art, I am pleased to see you practicing the dimensions of the head because it is these underlying structural observations that give a portrait a 3 dimensional quality.


Drawing 1: Check out the proportions of the left-hand side of your face, the left eye, in the pencil portrait. I think you may be concentrating on the details, eyes, nose, ears and mouth before you have sorted the planes and proportions of the head.


Drawing 2: In my mind a more engaging drawing, partly because of the suggestive and unpredictable marks that ink makes, despite being less of a likeness. 

Learning Logs/Journals

You are articulate, self-aware, show a good range of research and demonstrate an intellectual understanding of the subject matter. Excellent reflection on your own work, it is clear that your learning log is supporting your progress on the course. 

Suggested reading/viewing

Revisit the assignment relevant to your project choice. Follow-up any references and in more detail. 


If you want to do the figure drawing project have a look at Jenny Saville, Euan Uglow and Marlene Dumas for the very different ways they treat the figure. There are a lot of short clips on You Tube.

Pointers for the next assignment

*Investigate and take risks in the early stages. It is fine to leave the history of your explorations and mistakes in the final drawings. I believe revealing some of your process visible allows the viewer to see your ‘voice’ and gives a drawing life and substance. 


Choose the project where you have the most to express, where you can be most be yourself AND take risks and play. 

Reflection on the Feedback –  Things to address in the final assignment:


This was by far the most challenging assignment but the unit was probably the most enjoyable because I attended weekly life classes for much of the duration and enjoyed being part of a drawing community.  I have signed up for more classes and will follow up the suggested links out of interest and because I wish to improve figure drawing, even though I am unlikely to choose it for the final assessment piece.

Specific skills to work on: 

1.  I need to use mark-making to describe the surface rather than decorate it.  Mark-making needs to be stronger / more definite and committed. This will be helped by more consciousness of the physicality of the surface and what it might feel like to the touch. 

2.  I need to be more intuitive, imaginative and to take more risks.  I have improved in this respect through the course but I must really push it now.  I am more inclined to take risks in non-OCA activities and must extend this to coursework. I often record proportions and form more accurately in shorter sketches and gesture drawing.  I think that this happens because I don’t attach the same importance to these as to a “formal” assignment piece and, as a consequence, take more risks and play.  Intensive practice could help release some of these inhibitions with assignments, as might experimenting with media with which I am less comfortable or familiar. 

3.  Be prepared to leave marks in a drawing without erasing, what my tutor refers to as “the history of my explorations”. 

4.  Earlier reflective comments to keep in mind:
  1. *I will also build up the image more slowly and try to leave it at stages in order to get more distance from the image as it develops.  
  2. *The artist in the book that inspired the idea achieved his drawing using a much looser framework of marks,
5.  Keep the assessment criteria in mind throughout the process.
Given that there is snow on the ground and the next few weeks will be too cold to tempt me outside for anything less than a brisk walk, I think that it is likely that I will focus on Observation in Nature (bringing nature indoors) for my final piece, or possibly Mark-making and Tone.  I will spend spare moments in the next two weeks trying out ideas for each of these before I decide and then begin serious work during the Karneval break (half-term).
OK, here goes….


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