Category Archives: ASSIGNMENT 2

Reflections on Report for Assignment 2

The summary and key points of the report read as follows:

  • Don’t forget your strength of using expressive media and being more gestural as you have shown previously.
  • Be careful not to be too pictorial all the time.
  • Use your sketchbook much more and the main concern is that there is not enough work for each part. As well as doing work in your sketchbook, do larger pieces, which use the whole space of the surface sufficiently. You are starting to understand the technicalities of the fundamental elements of form in this submission. Keep practicing this.
  • Do more attempts of the exercises, techniques and mark making works so you can push a more personal style. Be more expressive and not so pictorial to give a sense of mood and narrative to captivate the viewer. Combine successful techniques to make for more mix media works.
  • Don’t forget the suggestions from your pervious report in terms of being more expressive and fluid. At the moment you have a variety of techniques, which you are not always pursuing. Be more focused on your style and your strengths.
  • Look back at your sketchbook and enlarge the more expressive works so they are more gestural.

There is a lot in the report that really made me think.  I have been torn between my natural tendency to draw accurate pictorial representations of a subject (which can be lazy in terms of using my imagination or investigative skills) and being more experimental.  I had not really understood what the course wanted from us, but think this feedback represents a step forwards for me in this.  I realise now that experimenting and working through ideas in both my sketchbook and as larger pieces helps me to develop and explore my own direction and voice.  In the feedback about loosening up- I realise that my work is so much more fluid in all my prep work and then I tense up for the final drawing.

My tutor has suggested I experiment more with Frottage as this will help me to loosen up and be more expressive.  She also pointed out that abstraction helps you to see the world differently;  I really like that idea and can see it will be fun to explore this further.

I suppose I had thought I should know my personal style by now, but realise that this will only come by experimenting as much as possible and seeing what pattern reveals itself as my way of progressing.

I looked at the Henry Moore Sketches as suggested and realised how much I rely on line/outline in my drawings.    I need to try to avoid this and learn to see negative shapes, tonal variation and texture….

Things I had not been doing that I want to develop from now on:

  • Gestural drawings
  • loosening up-  expressive drawings  (Trying Frottage)
  • Developing work for each exercise further to a larger final piece wherever possible
  • Less pictorial- thinking more expressively to give a sense of mood and narrative to captivate the viewer.
  • Focus on my strengths and successes.


Frottage is a surrealist method of creative production that involves creating a rubbing of a textured surface using a pencil or other drawing material. explains:

The technique was developed by Max Ernst in drawings  from 1925. Frottage is the French word for rubbing. Ernst was inspired by an ancient wooden floor where the grain of the planks had been accentuated by many years of scrubbing. The patterns of the graining suggested strange images to him. From 1925 he captured these by laying sheets of paper on the floor and then rubbing over them with a soft pencil. The results suggest mysterious forests peopled with bird-like creatures and Ernst published a collection of these drawings in 1926 titled Histoire Naturelle (natural history).

Max Ernst L'évadé (The Fugitive) from Histoire Naturelle (Natural History) 1926

He created these images by rubbing various materials—wood, crumpled paper, crusts of bread—with a pencil or crayon through a sheet of paper, then allowing the resulting textures to inspire him to invent strange landscapes, objects, and animals.

He went on to use a wide range of textured surfaces and adapted the technique to oil painting, calling it grattage(scraping). In grattage the canvas is prepared with a layer or more of paint then laid over the textured object which is then scraped over.

Henry Moore- Sheep Drawings

In her report from assignment 2, my tutor has suggested that I look at Henry More’s sheep sketches

I can really see why she suggested this.

I am currently getting too bogged down with heavy laboured outlines and also getting overly tight with detail.  These sheep sketches are wonderful- they are fluid and expressive, whilst capturing the very essence of the sheep.  I notice how there are few actual outlines-Moore – rarely started his sketches by outlining his sheep, but started shading straight away.  He relied on varying the tone to capture light and shadow, form (the round solidity of a sheep) and shape (insinuating the shape of the nail’s body beneath the fleece).  Texture is captured also- the curly fleece, the hard short hair on their heads…. I really like the way that the lines vary in direction and pressure.

henry  Moore sheep 1972 2 henry  Moore sheep 1972_0 henry  Moore sheep 1972

in 1972 Henry Morre’s studio looked out over fields from where he drew these sheep- that would come right up to his window.  As a sculpture he was interested in form and texture and in spite of using just biro and felt tip the sketches are animated, interesting and individual.  He would make a loud noise to capture the sheep’s attention while he caught their captivated gaze..   Zig-zags and rushed ball point pen lines dominate the drawings, thicker and more panicked scratches where there is less light and softer yet vigorous marks on the brighter parts of the scene.

He captures the sheep’s energy and sudden vigorous movement as well as their repose and calm thoughtfulness. (Do sheep think?)

In making each sketch so individual and tender he captures his audience.  It is more than just a picture of a sheep- it communicates mood , atmosphere and the character of the animals.

I want to be inspired by these lovely drawings to let go of my fear of getting it wrong and allow spontaneity, energy and fluidity into my drawings.  Concentrating on tone and texture rather than line!

Assignment 2

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:-IMG_0570

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:-IMG_0571

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.