This assignment is designed to pull together the fine observation and practice that has been done in part 2 of this course. Choose your own subject matter and media, still life, animal study or interior scene –provided that you take account of the factors listed below.
I was lucky enough to come across a pheasant, who obligingly posed for Assignment Two.
Preliminary sketches to test ideas for composition and which materials to use. I did a few thumbnail sketches for layout and tonal composition, but the composition found itself early on. Looking at both these and previous work, I settled on the use of mainly pastels with additional media as required. I also experimented a little with pencils, trying various drawings of the head, but thought using these would lead to me becoming engrossed in minute detail meaning any freedom of gesture and marks would probably be lost.
I worked on the picture for several hours and thought I had just about completed it. But, when I reviewed my work I was bothered about the perspective and the fact that the back of the board appeared to be too high. I was a bit perplexed as I had measured carefully during my initial outline sketch, but think the orientation of the board had confused me a bit.
initial attempt with incorrect perspective at back of board:-
I reworked the picture and adjusted the RHS of the board, but upon reflection it was still not correct. I remeasured and realised that the back edge was still at too steep an angle:-
This is the FINISHED DRAWING with the perspective corrected:-
“One for the Pot” Soft and Hard Pastels and coloured pencils on Daler & Rowney 250gsm A2 mixed media paper
Reflection: The drawing was built up over a number of layers, starting with smudged pastels for a background depth of tone, then adding increasing levels of colour tone and detail repeatedly over the top. The multiple layers of pastel create a vivid depth of colour and texture. The bird was really beautiful and some of its feathers caught the light and glowed with iridescent purples, blues and greens- I really wanted to capture a sense of this.
I think that using mainly pastel gives the pheasant a softness that is reflective of the actual feel of the feathers. Marks have been used to create a sense of the different textures- some of the feathers were downy and fluffy, while others were shiny and flat. The board looks dense and heavy and I practiced how best to draw the texture of the wood. There was a subtle reflection of the head in the granite work surface below and reflections in the cooker behind, which I hope I have recreated.
I took care to darken the edges of the bird, and slightly highlight the top, to give a sense of roundness and fullness of form. The shadows were carefully observed to give a sense of the weight of the bird lying on the board. the bird was mainly lit from above so the shadow is quite defined. I carefully observed the direction of the feathers and hope I captured them accurately to support the sense of form I was aiming for.
I am happy with the picture’s composition and context. I used slight poetic licence with the background to create context by moving the subject to a different position to complete the background (See photo). Where I had started to draw the subject, there was good light, but not really a background, which would have left it sitting slightly in space. I decided to put the knife in last as I couldn’t decide if it was a little grotesque. However, when I finished the picture without it, there was a big space at the top right, where I finally decided to place the it. I thought it was appropriate to the title of “one for the pot”!
I wanted the focal point of the picture to be the head/eye. With this in mind I positioned it at the front, but I wasn’t sure halfway through drawing whether the head was too far forward and too far in the corner? I suspect that your eye is drawn to the centre of the paper now? However, I wanted to capture the beauty of the whole bird and to focus just on the head would have led to a different composition in which the rest of the bird would probably not have featured.
Initially, I really didn’t know how to approach this. I was attracted to photorealism, but I was also torn, as a part of me wanted to be more free. In the end the more realistic approach won over naturally as I was drawn into the beauty and detail of the subject before me. However, using pastels stopped me from becoming too microscopic in my rendering of the details.
I was also initially very unsure about how to go about the techniques for layering pastels. In the end this developed spontaneously as I worked on the drawing, but in places I felt the small details were clumsy. I don’t have pastel pencils and would like to acquire some for any future pastel work so i can input details. Instead I used coloured pencils, which in places created a slightly shiny overworked surface on the paper, which made it difficult to add new layers over the top. Am I using the appropriate paper?
In places I was tempted to add ink to define some of the edges, but I resisted as I didn’t want to take away from the slightly hazy effect in places.
I am not sure if the picture has got depth? Does the background recede? or is it competing with the foreground of the picture? I wonder if I ere to do this again whether I would blur out the background a bit to let it recede? Would making the pastels fainter /slightly purple have the same effect?
Perspective: after sleeping on it I decided the perspective was wrong. It looked like the board was rearing into the air at the back!! Which was strange as I had spent time measuring and viewing angles between the sides of the board. But when i checked and measured again it was definitely wrong. I had drawn all four sides about parallel. I lowered the back RH corner- hopefully it looks better now.
Assessment criteria points
- Demonstration of technical and visual skills – materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills (35%). I think that appropriate materials were used for the effect I wanted and that the drawing was well observed (form, colour, perspective- eventually!- & composition). I could further develop techniques for the use of colour media, but hope this will develop naturally with time as the course progresses.
- Quality of outcome – content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas (20%). I felt confident about what would work and what was not right (on the whole), with just some questions about the focal point, depth and background. There is good use of colour and application of techniques and ideas considered during the course to date. I approached the assignment logically, with some experimentation in my sketchbook of both media and composition.
- Demonstration of creativity – imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice (25%). The outcome of this assignment feels like an honest reflection of my natural style. I did not refer to other artists for this work but responded to the subject in front of me. I would like to experiment a lot more with a freer more abstract style however, I had to experiment with the media to create the finish I wanted and hope that the composition of the still life was imaginative.
- Context reflection – research, critical thinking (learning logs and, at second and third level, critical reviews and essays) (20%). I felt that a pheasant was a classic traditional choice as the subject for a still life. For example, Renoir’s Pheasant-In-The-Snow-large.html or Monet’s Still-Life-With-Pheasant-large.html and Pheasants-and-Plovers-large.html. I had not researched this before doing the drawing, but was interested and pleased to note that I have approached this subject in a manner not dissimilar to both Renoir and Monet. Not that I would presume to be equal to them in any way(!). There are many pictures that I have found that suggest that the pheasant is on its way to the pot.