Tutor Feedback – Assignment 2

Final Drawing on A4

Overall Comments

You have maintained a very high standard in the work you have produced for part two of this module Mark. I can see that with every new process and experimentation an even greater and more concentrated progress will occur in your practice. If you maintain this focus you will notice that your output will go from strength to strength.

Feedback on assignment Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

Assignment Two brings together the skills you have attained from experimentation with different coloured media, the manner and method in which you use them and focuses on their suitability to subject matter and the size and format of your finished piece. It also puts you in the position of getting used to confidently employing methods in the arrangement of interesting compositional constructions and refining your ability to render form with accuracy.

The subject you have chosen was undoubtedly an emotive one. Often these heartfelt themes can produce touching imagery and you have successfully done so with this piece. Firstly, I was greatly encouraged to see that you had diligently worked on multiple preliminary studies for the composition and had made detailed and clear annotation with regards ideas and working methodologies. The subtle colour palette utilised has a poignancy that works very well within its compositional arrangement. I was pleased to see that you had really thought about the narrative of the set up and had not fallen back on a conventional still-life arrangement. The placement of the still-life in a bathroom setting with its reflective surfaces of mirror, white ceramic tiles and porcelain basin was also a nice touch. This has strengthened the end result and added a tender feel to the piece, not to mention the inclusion of roses, which have an obvious relevancy. To be honest I feel your choice of working on white paper has worked for you – a coloured support would have made the drawing appear overworked and would have contradicted its intrinsic mood of sensitivity and restraint. It was good to read that you had used the influence of Antonio López García, an artist whose work I greatly admire. There is some very nice drawing here Mark. The delineation of form and reflective surfaces in details such as the tap and the apricot-coloured vase is very effective, as is your utilisation of the compositional device of the rule of thirds – a very well-considered piece.

Final Drawing in Pastel Pencil and Hard Pastel
Assignment 2 in Hard Pastel and Pastel Pencil

I have to admit I had never heard of the rule of thirds until now but now at least I can put an artistic phrase to it. 

Rule of Thirds
Rule of Thirds

Learning Logs or Blogs / Critical essays Context

Just as in assignment one the learning log has been kept up-to-date meticulously and outlines your thoughts and discoveries scrupulously. It is a breath of fresh air to read your thorough investigation into the research points with regards your chosen artists. I read with great interest your piece about Eliot Hodgkin, an artist whose work I did not know – what a wonderful discovery. As you have suggested, his compositions and depictions of what some may call ‘mundane’ subjects, opens ones’ eyes to the beauty of simplicity. It also confirms that there is beauty in the everyday or commonplace. I can see the inspiration for your leaf drawing. I think you may find working with tempera interesting Mark. If you can’t find any, try gouache which has a similar finish and is more readily available and equally wonderful to work with.

I was hoping to try and put off tempera, gouache and any other paint mediums until the Practice of Painting Course but I made a promise to myself that I would try to get to use either one or the other by the end of this course.


You have delivered an impressive amount of work for your sketchbooks Mark. Your adherence to the exercises within this part of the module is admirable and a high quality of work has been maintained throughout. What I find particularly encouraging is your willingness to experiment not only with a diversity of media but also the manner in which it is manipulated.  There are many good examples here and I will not mention them all: I especially liked your experiments with dip pens and markers – these display a demonstrability of eye and hand and what appears to be a natural sense for composition. I will also mention that, just as exemplified in your assignment piece, you have a knack for using colour in a way that is sympathetic to your subject, in this case, one that is fearlessly vibrant. The ‘Still-life group using line’ drawing and the study of the dying leaf in stipples and dots also show a considerable dexterity with ink as a medium.

I have to disagree with some of this, I really want to work with dip pens but I feel that I am lacking any reasonable amount of control with them and it is something I working hard to change. It was my effort with the marker pens and applying ink using a brush that made my dip pen work look good.

Chosen Composition in Marker Pens
Using Markers and Dip Pens

The leaf in stipples and dots however remains one of my favourite pieces and one that I am very proud of, It reflects the crispness of Elliot Hodgkin’s paintings as researched in the research point in this part.

Exercise - Stipples and Dots, Finished Drawing
Exercise – Stipples and Dots, Finished Drawing


I am sure the benefits of living in an exotic country are numerous but one that stands out is the wonderful fruits to choose from when setting up a still-life – obviously the watermelon and apple in the ‘Drawing using oil pastel’ exercise are recognisable but the gno is wonderful, reminding me a little of a sea urchin. The piece you have produced for this exercise displays good balance both in terms of colour palette and composition. It is a strong and lively piece and you have successfully proven that you are willing to experiment with new, untried media. The form of each fruit and its overall perspective has been effectively rendered and considered and, generally speaking, possesses a believable compositional balance. The inclusion of the yellow cloth is a bold pronouncement but works perfectly well with the overall colour palette. The detail of the diagonal folds in the cloth in the foreground is also a nice touch as it balances the slightly left-handed arrangement.  If I were to be picky however, there are things worth looking at: there is a minor inaccuracy with regards the ellipse of the plate, most noticeable at the rear edge as it disappears behind the watermelon and apple and the shadow cast could have done with a slightly darker rendering; the delineation of the reflection of the apple on the plate needs closer observation – the dark hard line and the highlight next to it in the reflection has created the appearance of a dip in the surface of the plate. Having said all that I feel this piece shows a keen observational ability and an encouraging competence in handling new media.

Again this is another piece that I feel strongly about and would like to submit it for assessment. What I let myself down on here is that I did not make any sketches of other compositions so it may be wise to make more sketches and if necessary redo the  piece.

Drawing Using Oil Pastel - Finished drawing
Drawing Using Oil Pastel – Finished drawing

The only piece I felt didn’t quite have the strength of the aforementioned drawings is the study of roses and orchids in a vase, in both colour pencil and crayon and oil pastel. My problem with it is not necessarily the handling of the media, although both examples don’t display the same confidence or strong delineation of light and shade as the others, I feel that in comparison it is its less considered composition. The close cropping or the lack of ‘breathing space’ around the arrangement needs closer scrutinisation.

Plants and Flowers in Coloured Pencil
Plants and Flowers in Coloured Pencil

This is a piece that I am hoping I will have the time to redo. However, I already took what I didn’t like about this composition and used what I learnt from it for my second assignment so is it really necessary?

Suggested viewing/reading Context 

It is clear that you thrive on researching the work of other artists and enjoy the process that entails. My only suggestion would be to continue doing this as it obviously has a beneficial effect on your work. With each new discovery, a new direction will open up for you. Keep up the gallery visits too! 

Pointers for the next assignment

 The next part of this module is about the outdoors and I’ve noticed you have already made a good start on the work. Try, as much as you can, to work from life rather than from photos. Although you have a keen eye and a good visual understanding of space and form it is always good practice to work directly from three dimensions. This will add an even greater perspective to your work. 

I understand your aim is to go for the Painting/ 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, and providing you commit yourself to the course, I suggest that you are likely to be successful in the assessment.

Assignment 2 – Observations in Nature

Final Drawing in Pastel Pencil and Hard Pastel

The brief for this assignment was as follows:

This assignment is designed to pull together the fine observation and practice that you’ve done on this part of the course. You’re free to choose your own subject matter and drawing Media but there are a number of important issues to consider if you’re to produce an excellent piece of work. In your work for this assignment, you must demonstrate:

  • An understanding of the use of colour in drawing.
  • An understanding of the most appropriate choice of medium for the subject and skill using it.
  • The ability to set up an interesting composition
  • Variety in mark-making, depth, contrast, tone
  • Accuracy and a demonstrable understanding of tone.

Final Drawing in Pastel Pencil and Hard Pastel

Final Drawing in Pastel Pencil and Hard Pastel

The last month was a month of heartache and arguments breaking up with the girlfriend of two years and although it did slow me down with my coursework and delay my assignment it was inspiring. The now ex-girlfriend left a dead rose at the side of the bed, one that she had saved from our first valentines day together, it did go straight in the bin on the day she left but it gave me a great idea.

For this assignment I planned to buy some roses to and throw them in the sink   and draw them where they landed (using the sink was an idea I got from my research on Antonio López García, recommended by my tutor). I went to a small florist in the department store where I work, they had a disappointing selection of roses so I purchased two small red roses a pink rose and a larger red rose all of which had had their thorns removed, which was also quite disappointing.

When I finally got round to drawing the flowers the pink rose was on it’s way out and the petals were now pointing down and didn’t look much like a rose, the two small roses had opened up, but not too much and the large red rose was in full bloom; these changes gave me a nice variation of shapes to draw.

Chosen Composition
Chosen Composition

I started off by setting up the roses in different positions around the sink and using a view finder I decided that the stem of the pink rose was too big and so I snipped it to bring the flower closer to the vase. It took me a good twenty minutes to find some decent compositions to draw, throwing them in the sink and drawing them as they fell was just not going to work!

I made a few preliminary sketches in my notebook and decided that the paper had to be in a portrait position rather than landscape in order to concentrate on the natural objects in the drawing rather than the objects surrounding them.

Preliminary Sketches - First Compostion
Preliminary Sketches – First Compostion
Preliminary Sketches - Second Compostion
Preliminary Sketches – Second Compostion
Preliminary Sketches - Third Compostion
Preliminary Sketches – Third Compostion
Preliminary Sketches - Chosen Compostion
Preliminary Sketches – Chosen Compostion

After completing the preliminary sketches I chose the composition that I thought would work best and developed it for enlarging.

Colour Pencil Study
Colour Pencil Study

Up until this stage I was positive that I would be producing the final drawing for this assignment in coloured pencil and so I did a colour pencil sketch of the rose flowers and then a pencil and coloured pencil sketch of the tap and rose leaves in my sketchbook. Here, it was clear to me that they would be no good for this assignment and I would after look at other mediums.

I went out and purchased a pack of 24 Derwent Pastel pencils and 1 x A1 sheet of fawn coloured pastel paper and 1 x A1 sheet of cream coloured pastel paper. I did not know yet which kind of pastel I would be using for this assignment or whether or not it would be good to draw on dark paper and go lighter or lighter paper and go darker, I just knew that I would be using pastels and that coloured paper was best for the coloured tiles in the bathroom.

Colour Pencil Study
Colour Pencil Study

I decided that it was best to use the lighter paper and go darker and so I would use the darker paper for two more colour studies one in oil pastel and one in pastel pencil. I tore the A1 size paper into two halves and did two almost identical enlarged drawings and  decxided to do the first drawing in oil pastel. There were parts of the drawing that would have been good in this medium but other parts I decided would just not work, I wasn’t prepared to mess up in my final drawing with a sloppy medium when the brief said I should be focusing on accuracy and so I refused to complete the full drawing wasting more time.

Study in Oil Pastel on A2 Pastel Paper
Study in Oil Pastel on A2 Pastel Paper

The second study in pastel pencil worked a lot of better and at some stages  of the drawing I actually thought that I could submit it for more my final drawing and so I spent a few hours completing it. Towards the completion stage I realised that the flowers were too close to the edge of the paper and the perspective of the flower laid across the top of the open rose was way out but completing the drawing helped me to decide on the different techniques I would use on the different subjects in the drawing.

Study in Pastel Pencil on A2 Pastel Paper
Study in Pastel Pencil on A2 Pastel Paper

By the time it came to work on my final drawing the flowers were long gone so I was working from a photo again. I decided that vthe composition still needed further development and so I put a photo of the original composition into Photoshop and used Photoshop’s guides to help me perfect the enlargement for my final piece on the cream sheet of A1 pastel paper. With pressure now on final piece I wasn’t prepared to mess up and so there is a lot of white showing through in certain parts of the drawing which I left for the sake of overworking and messing up.

I decided that in the final piece I would not only use pastel pencil but also hard pastel as I could cover bigger areas with the flat of the sticks of pastel. The only problem with this was that it was hard to layer the white over the darker colours and so I did mess up in certain parts of the shadows.

Assignment Criteria Again:

  • An understanding of the use of colour in drawing.

Above everything I think I did very well in demonstrating the use of colour in drawing. Before this part of the course I would have probably used several colours on each piece and kept ‘trying’ throughout the drawing. In this assignment I started off with the lightest colours layering the darker colours over the top and got the results that I wanted.

  • An understanding of the most appropriate choice of medium for the subject and skill using it.

Apart from regretting using hard pastel in places, I think I did well choosing the right medium for this drawing. With the subtle shadows and colours reflected off the sink and the deep reds in the flowers, Pastel pencil was the best choice.

  • The ability to set up an interesting composition.

Absolutely! And I am positive it shows in this assignment.

  • Variety in mark-making, depth, contrast, tone

There are aspects of this drawing where I could have done better in all three of these categories but overall I think I did very well to show what I have learnt in the first two parts of this course, mark-making, depth, contrast and tone.

  • Accuracy and a demonstrable understanding of tone.

I really try to focus on accuracy at all times, I do think that I have shown accuracy and a demonstrable understanding of tone in this assignment however being modest I still have to say that there is most definitely room for improvement.