Assignment 1 – My Response

NOTE:- I am writing these responses as I await the tutor report on Assignment 4 and thinking about what I am going to work on for Part 5 of the course.

I don’t know how to approach this really but have highlighted areas that I think I need to address and will comment on those.   Firstly I will respond to the overall tone of the report.

It was really difficult at times to engage with some of the exercises from the first section of the Drawing 1 course.   This was because I began to feel I was having to go back to the beginning again and did not know if I have the stamina to continue to engage with the work.   However having realised that the reason I was taking this whole thing was because I had never really done this stuff from the beginning and worked through the various stages – which has over time caused there to be many gaps in my understanding and techniques.

I did get over this and the frustrations of things not working or not being able to concentrate on looking with enough intensity.    Overall I was really pleased with my tutor’s response to my work and particularly the assignment piece which became very personal very quickly.

Most of all I was gratified with the time she had taken in looking at all the work and the learning log and responding in such a full and supportive way.   I have a legacy of not being supported artistically and also a very damaging experience of art school as a mature student which knocked my confidence to the extent that I did no work for 10 years.

Points I have picked out:-

  • Continue to Take More Risks – Not be Fearful of Failure  

This has plagued me all the way through – what are the risks I should take, is it technique, materials, process?   I have found myself moving from one kind of risk taking to another but often having planned to work in a “new ” way not going through with it and resorting to tried and tested ways.   It is difficult to get it “wrong” for me and to believe that there is learning in there.   To do work that is not admired but for its own sake is certainly a challenge.  To this extent I don’t think I have done enough experimentation with mark making, multi-media combinations, sampling, etc.

  • Point of the course is to challenge new techniques, processes and new ways of working

This is of course a reference to the above point and thinking about how far is far?   I feel a bit like a mouse who sticks its nose out of the hole now and again and goes for it across the wide space ahead but spends quite a lot of time looking around working up the courage to take the next dash.

  • More Written Work in Support of Research into Other Artists Work in Support of my Own Studies.

I don’t find writing easy being dyslexic and find my ability to express my ideas and responses can be limited.   Though I love to read I don’t think I have grasped how to use note taking effectively and then how to fit it together when I am writing my learning log. Also I can get carried away with reading (and not note taking) and then jump back into the practical work not taking the ideas with me.

At this stage I am still finding this a challenge and to work out why my tutor has suggested certain artists to look at.

  • Look More closely at Other Artist’s Compositions to Record and Analyse

Certainly STILL not doing enough of this – like everything I do I need to slow down and be more thoughtful rather than immediate with my response.  Too much of I know what I like kind of attitude still prevalent in my thinking.






Assignment 1 – Tutor Report

Assignment 1 – Tutor Report

Overall Comments

Part One Form and Gesture

Thank you for submitting the first assignment for Drawing 1. It is clear that you are completely engaged in your work and you have already a clear and confident voice growing from your work, evaluation and reflective accounting around the work made.

I have identified a small number of things that need to be addressed such as the organisation of your blog but otherwise this submission is strong, articulate and personally challenged throughout. It is clear that you are taking elements of risk but I encourage you to continue to take more. You have identified your preferred way of working but are taking the time to try out new materials and processes. Your sketchbook work is strong and already there appears to be a contextual underpinning of your work surfacing which should really hold the work together when it needs it.

I am unsure as to whether you completed the warm up temporary drawings. If you did please pop a photograph of what you did in your learning log under a subheading so that at assessment these exercises can be found and looked at quickly by your assessors. It is imperative that you do not miss any of the exercises out either from your log, sketchbooks or physical output.

If you put categories on your blog that can be easily identifiable such as Part One Form and Gesture then all the work can then be categorized in subheadings such as Project 1: Feeling and expression, Project 2 Basic shapes and fundamental form and so on. It will help if your title the exercises too above the content so that your learning log starts to get an order to it at the earlier stage as the content as the content will just grow and grow.

Overall this is a very strong submission for the first assignment of Drawing 1. Continue to take the time to develop your ideas and continue to take creative risks. Your confidence will grow and you will be more at ease about the skills you have and are building on within your studies.

Assignment 1 Assessment potential

You may want to get credit for your hard work and achievements with the OCA by formally submitting your work for assessment at the end of the module. More and more people are taking the idea of lifelong learning seriously by submitting their work for assessment but it is entirely up to you. We are just as keen to support you whether you study for pleasure or to gain qualifications. Please consider whether you want to put your work forward for assessment and let me know your decision when you submit Assignment 2. I can then give you feedback on how well your work meets the assessment requirements.

Feedback on assignment

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

Project 1 Feeling and expression

Exercise 1 Experimenting with expressive lines and marks

Designed to be a warm up exercise, you have managed to create a good number of drawings that express anger, joy, love and so on. You have analysed the work well and in a personal way not frightened to be either critical or supportive of the outcomes you have clearly walked head on into the exercises. You have embraced you mediums and techniques well throughout communicating your emotions in a visual and critical way.

Exercise 2 Experimenting with texture

You have clearly enjoyed this exercise and have made some really interesting outcomes. You have evaluated and analysed critically each stage through annotations in your sketchbook so well done, just remember to pop the heading exercise into your sketchbook to keep things organised and clear for others. The works on tracing paper feel very real and raw as well as exciting in their ambition. Scratching into part of the drawing also adds interest so well done with these.

Project 2 Basic shapes and fundamental form

Exercise 1 Groups of objects

You have started off well despite your hesitancies with your own drawing ability with a number of sketches in your sketchbook. It is good to see you supporting yourself in your sketchbook with ways in to work in a way that you are afraid of. I am in no doubt that over time you will lose this fear, as your drawing ability is evident. In these types of exercises look at the negative space and draw that, as the rest will fit into place. Working on varying surfaces is fine if this is how you prefer to work and if it helps you get through those first hurdles. These exercises are all about looking and seeing what is actually there rather than working with the lazy (and sometimes arrogant!) side of the brain that thinks it knows what is there. Think about the connecting parts and don’t be afraid to slow down when your confidence starts to grow. You may wish to explore the more textural or softer aspects of your subjects as it feels to me that this is something you are naturally attracted to. The bunny is essentially a circle and cylinders so try to break down aspects of this to ensure that you are drawing what is actually there. Your observational skills are strong so lets work with this level of skill and build on it rather than undermine the skills you so clearly have already.

The larger piece works well but has probably lost the more observational side that you achieved in the first instance. Applying your looking skills to the cast shadows and more tonal aspects that would have been present could have allowed this drawing to be more grounded on the page as well as take up a more three dimensional approach to drawing. You can do this, just try to lose the fear of failure and instead enjoy each exercise in its own right and allow the work to fail, as it will take the pressure off.

Exercise 2 Observing shadow using blocks of tone

Despite your difficulties with this exercise your approach is open minded and positive and what you have achieved is good. Further and more sustained development of working tonally will help you improve and I would suggest that you set up a still life in a very dark corner with a strong directional light such as an angle poise lamp will help you differentiate between the light, mid and dark tones of your composition. Sometimes it helps if you take photographs too as it clarifies the areas even more although I wouldn’t suggest that you work from photographs as this will give you a flatter image outcome but use it instead more as a tool. Once you start to understand these elements the outcome will be much more enjoyable.

Exercise 3 Creating shadow using lines and marks

For this exercise you have produced a number of sketches in your sketchbook that are less about observation and more about creating an outpouring of creative mark making. There is an argument here to make work creatively but with closer observation, as although the drawings appear more spontaneous looking closer at where you should make a mark i.e. closer observational skill of what is there rather than what is implied would have allowed your preliminary sketches to be more convincing tonally. Try not to dismiss closer observation instead try to work creatively with it.

Research point: Odilon Redon

You have submitted very good personal reflective accounting of the work of Odilon Redon. You have analysed his approach to making work well and have clearly connected to it on a personal level. Don’t forget to cite your research academically by creating an ongoing bibliography or reference list using The Harvard System of Referencing. Well done, the mind mapping is a good supporting visual here and works well on a personal level to explain in closer detail your thoughts and ideas surrounding what you know about his work.

Exercise 4 Shadows and reflected light

You have submitted a good visual that explains your difficulties with your subject and it is good to see perseverance as I recognise that drawing still lives in charcoal is a struggle for you. Try to enjoy the mark making aspect of this drawing. There are elements that can be improved with more experience but overall this is not a bad first attempt. Allowing yourself to not start again is a good discipline. Learn from it (i.e. map out the composition on the page lightly first before filling in any detail) and then allow the work to do its think. Again looking at the negative space (The space around the objects) will help. There is more on this subject later on in your studies, so remember that you are just at the start of your learning and you are making big leaps already.

Assignment 1

The selection of your objects for this assignment has arrived at a point where you are starting to reference your Allegory to Childhood, which allows your work to be purposeful, directed, and to have an underpinning contextually in support of your drawing. Work is often autobiographical and I am in no doubt that as you move through Drawing 1 these ideas will allow your work to develop but with purpose. Your supporting research is analysed and evaluated coherently and the selection of The annunciation with St Emidius is notably of interest. Researching can be a very fruitful experience and I would suggest that you evaluate your findings in brief to start off with as you find research so easy to get weighed down by. Your preliminary drawings demonstrate your ability to synthesize a personal idea into a formal outcome and requirement of the course. The almost theatrical background is of interest as you have suggested aspects of the box to be grounded in personal experience. Your mark making is evocative and wide reaching to the viewer as well as being extremely interesting to look at The darker references within the work of Odilon Redon has quite possibly allowed this work to filter through so don’t be afraid to write about this if you feel it is relevant.

The overall quiet and underlying sense of these selected objects in this setting suggests an understanding of your research, to cite the work of Redon against the symbolic references of vegetables and rotting fruit. The hanging vegetable and the contained toy delicately placed in a box are highly suggestive making this drawing in my opinion very successful. The dramatic use of heavy tone as a background against the light delicacy of the face of the doll suggests an understanding of what you have learnt so far at the start of Drawing 1. Your conceptualization of thought and discernment is exemplary for this stage of Drawing 1. Overall you have slowed down, allowed mark making to be purposeful and introduced textural qualities to your drawing. Very successful outcome, so you should congratulate yourself on your achievement, well done.

Reflection on your progress

Your review suggests the peaks and troughs of experience. Feeling excited, anxious, elated and despairing is really quite ordinary for the creative mind. There is the need to develop some elements of risk and not be fearful of failure, as this is where the learning aspect of your studies comes into play. This course is designed to support and challenge you through the whole experience and in my opinion you are taking on these challenges but need to allow yourself the space to convince yourself that you have a lot of good drawing abilities but the point of this course is to challenge you with new techniques, processes and new ways of working. You are achieving these despite your concerns.


Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

Remember to label the pages of your sketchbook against the exercises so that your assessors can follow at the assessment point. You are using your sketchbook well with supporting annotations on the development of your ideas. There is some lovely work in here and it is good to see you using it for a variety of different reasons. Your technical and visual skills are developing and this seems a place to naturally house your creative ideas. Keep going.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays


Your log is being used well and you are clearly recording and documenting your learning through this tool.  You have a developing personal voice and you are reflecting, evaluating and analysing your own work against the work of others. It would be nice to see your research voice coming through a little although I recognise that at this stage you are concerned that will swamp the practical work. Over time you will be more efficient at obtaining a balance between research and your work, as it is clear that the research is underpinning your own work already throughout this assignment.  Clearly define your projects and exercises from the content for clarity. Add a page for your on going bibliography that should be Harvard Referenced. Add a little more written work in support of your research into other artists work in support of your own studies. Good, solid reflection and evaluation is already present.

Suggested reading/viewing


I would suggest that you evidence in a little more detail your research that you are clearly undertaking. Continue to read widely and start to add your own interests and exhibition visits to your work. See at least one exhibition that takes you out of your comfort zone within your next assignment.

Pointers for the next assignment

  • Take your time to look at what it I you are trying to represent.
  • Look closely at artist’s compositions. These can be very varied, so record them and analyse what you see
  • Embrace “intimacy’ as an idea in your own way and take each exercise on in confidence.

{Coloured highlighting my own for reference}


Assignment 1 – Still Life with Cucumber

dell’ Arengo, P. (no date) The Annunciation, with saint Emidius. Available at: (Accessed: 15 June 2016).
Carlo Crivelli | Madonna and child | the met (1472) Available at: (Accessed: 15 June 2016).
Food and drink in European painting, 1400–1800 | essay | Heilbrunn Timeline of art history | the metropolitan museum of art (2000) Available at: (Accessed: 15 June 2016).
Hockney, D. (2006) Secret Knowledge. 2nd edn. London: Thames & Hudson.
Ltd, T.B. (2016) ‘Jan Bolivar in Conversation with John Greenwood’, Turps Banana, 1(#15), pp. 22–29.
Tobin, J. (2014) Fruits and vegetables as sexual metaphor in late renaissance Rome. Available at: (Accessed: 15 June 2016).

Citations, Quotes & Annotations

dell’ Arengo, P. (no date) The Annunciation, with saint Emidius. Available at: (Accessed: 15 June 2016).
(dell’ Arengo, no date)
Carlo Crivelli | Madonna and child | the met (1472) Available at: (Accessed: 15 June 2016).
(Carlo Crivelli | Madonna and child | the met, 1472)
Food and drink in European painting, 1400–1800 | essay | Heilbrunn Timeline of art history | the metropolitan museum of art (2000) Available at: (Accessed: 15 June 2016).
(Food and drink in European painting, 1400–1800 | essay | Heilbrunn Timeline of art history | the metropolitan museum of art, 2000)
Hockney, D. (2006) Secret Knowledge. 2nd edn. London: Thames & Hudson.
(Hockney, 2006)
Ltd, T.B. (2016) ‘Jan Bolivar in Conversation with John Greenwood’, Turps Banana, 1(#15), pp. 22–29.
(Ltd, 2016)
Tobin, J. (2014) Fruits and vegetables as sexual metaphor in late renaissance Rome. Available at: (Accessed: 15 June 2016).
(Tobin, 2014)

Assessment Criteria

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills

I believe that I have developed my visual skills as I have worked through the exercises to the final drawing.   However as noted previously I think that my initial drafting needs to be more precise. The design and compositions meets the criteria I had set myself to shadow the work of the artists which I have noted.  But I think that the whole drawing could have been much tighter and have therefore created more drama to the composition. The finished drawing is interesting but not compulsive.  I would assess this section as a 2.2

Quality of Outcome

I think the drawing is a competent realisation of the ideas that I was trying to portray. Much greater judgement was used that I have previously brought to my work.   However if I had not been impatient I think as I have said that I could have redrafted the whole drawing and made more competent decisions.  Again I would assess this section as a 2.2.

Demonstration of Creativity

Again I believe I have shown some development throughout the process of the exercises and have been analytical about the content.  I particularly enjoyed making the connections with other artists’ work, Crivelli, Sanchez Cotan and Greenwood in order to find a context for the drawing and ideas. In the past I have taken a very superficial view on different artists’ work – do I like it/ don’t I like it.   I have found myself more drawn into the pieces and the history of art than I had expected I would.   The struggle for me is not to get too drawn into the research process and away from physical drawing. It was a surprise to me how personal the still life became and  an effective articulation of past experience.   I think this section could be bordering on a 2.1


The whole span of context was opened up through this drawing exercise which has been a very welcome development.   It is what I have been searching for and these early shoots I have found very satisfying.   I am not sure about whether the breadth is wide enough.   However I was very interested to chance upon the Hockney debate about camera lucinda and its impact on image depiction.

The use of this blog (learning log) has become more natural but finding the balance is once again a challenge.   The balance between doing the actual drawing and reflecting/researching is tough for me.

My sketchbook work is developing slowly and I enjoyed joining a local sketchcrawl and lifeclass which has helped with widening my drawing experiences in a more regular way. I think this is also a 2.2.







What I think was successful:-

  • Bringing context to the drawing through the research and reading with historical references
  • Being challenged to stay with a piece until it is finished – this has been a problem for me as I have tended to work quickly and get bored of things – I realise this is because I have not been happy with something and have not had the staying power to work through the difficulties which I have encountered.
  • Working with thought and making decisions about what media to use where.  Some of the previous exercises have helped me to become more discerning about what I am trying to achieve.
  • Beginning to understand more about tone and how this can be rendered in a drawing.
  • Depicting different surfaces and expanding my repertoire of mark making
  • Bringing my learning from looking more closely at drawing from different artists, Van Gogh, Samuel Palmer and Odilon Redon into my consciousness
  • Enthusiasm for drawing generally.   I am feeling much more engaged in the process than I thought I would be and have joined a lifeclass as well as participating in a sketchcrawl locally.

What has been less successful:-

  • I think that my drafting skills need to be better.   I am not yet naturally checking the location of the objects, and the negative space accurately enough.   I need to remember to do this from the start so that I am not worrying about location later on in the drawing process.
  • I do not think that my understanding  of perspective is as honed as it should be.  I need to address this by looking at some drawing exercises which specifically address this.
  • Although I used a variety of media some of the objects are more successful than others.   At the earlier stage I was satisfied with the flowerpot but as I worked on this is less convincing.   I was afraid of making everything the same – tonally and did not want to overwork certain places.
  • When I got to the pause point I think I could have started again and been bolder in how I was depicting the objects especially the doll which seems to have retreated. In the future I need to do more exploratory sketches so that by the time I address the whole drawing I am clearer in my mind what I want to do where.
  • I worked object by object and not around the piece as a whole.   I think this is reflected in the fact that as a finished piece it does not “read” as a whole. In future I need to try to work round the drawing more objectively.
  • I was hesitant because I am not used to as much thinking about what I am doing. To some extent I think this has compromised my drawing style by making it tighter than I like.


Cotan - Hockney

This is a page from an interesting book by David Hockney (Hockney, D. (2006) Secret Knowledge. 2nd edn. London: Thames & Hudson. ) in which he analyses the drawing styles of many of the old masters and has come to some very interesting conclusions.   He concludes that artists were using various optical devises in order to create their images and notably the camera lucida which I had never heard about.   In the illustration above he captures how but taking a photograph today with the fruit and vegetables in the same relationship as the painting depicts will achieve a very different outcome.   He believes that artists were using the camera lucida to plot the detail of each individual object separately and that is what has caused the painting to achieve its particular placements and proportions.


The Drawing

I started out by considering the mark making exercise from the first part of the course and was not at all sure how I could integrate these into a formal setting like a still life.

still life sketch 1

Made a couple of fast drawings with pen and ink – currently my favourite media to get the feel of the image.

still life sketch ink

By this time I had fiddled with the placing but had not documented the different layouts.   I realise I should have done this and also done some quick sketches of these and then be able to state my reasons for settling on the one which I chose.   This was partly because it was so fiddly and also the other great worry I have that I can spend a lot of time on the details (like the research) as a way of putting off doing the work.  This is an on-going problem as I think often the work I do quickly has more character.

Kept looking at the mark making exercise and chose the media that I enjoyed working with the most, charcoal, compressed charcoal, pen and ink, pencil (to a certain extent), conte sticks.

still life in progress

Part way through the drawing.   I like the plant in the flowerpot but when I made a wash of the leaves they turned brownish which is less satisfying.   Could have been more precise with drawing this but I was beginning to get rather fidgety with the whole thing   I have found it hard to stay with the process and make careful decisions about what media to use where.   Was thinking that although it is a still life I want it to have life and the type and variety of marks and tone should be doing that.   In some places – like the shadow of the sweet potato it has become expressive.

The complexity and variety of shadow direct and indirect I found difficult and at this point paused the work for a few days.  During this time the bitter gourds started to ripen and their colour changed dramatically.   Love the colours but they are starting to rot…

bitter gourds changing colour

Thought I had better do a sketch in case I loose them completely.

sketch bitter gourds

I really like this because I think I captured the textures of the vegetable and the marks are interesting.   However as you will see in the final drawing I did not draw with the same spontaneity and the images are less successful.

Completed Still Life Assignment 1 - reduced

The final drawing




Research & Context

mind map assignment 1 - drawing

When I started choosing the objects for the still life I was reading an article in Turps Banana ( Ltd, T.B. (2016) ‘Jan Bolivar in Conversation with John Greenwood’, Turps Banana, 1(#15), pp. 22–29. In-text citations: (Ltd, 2016) because I was trying to find a way to be interested in the concept of still life which initially didn’t particularly appeal to me. John Greenwood’s pieces create a fantastical world of objects.  The way they are placed and often hung seems to be a theatrical space and I am aware that when I am drawing  I want things to “be” somewhere. The idea that you can create a place appeals to my need for grounding the experience of drawing somewhere.

Greenwood cites the work of Juan Sanchez Cotan (1560-1627) as an influence.  with his hanging fruits and vegetables.

Cotan Still lIfe with Game Fowl

Still Life with Wild Fowl – Juan Sanchez Cotan 1600 ?

This image linked with my doll and the idea that if she were hanging she would be tethered- restricted – which resonated with my personal experience.

The inclusion of vegetables reminded me of a painting which I had always found intriguing in the National Gallery, London.   This painting – all I could remember was that it has a pickle in the foreground and with the wonder that is the internet I was able to trace it as:-


The Annunciation with Saint Emidius – Carlo Crivelli 1486

This painting has been a difficult one for me to understand because I have a Jewish background and most of the iconography of the church has been a mystery to my understanding.   However when reading further about the significance of the various items in the picture the whole concept of the metaphor became much clearer.   This immediately illuminated (annunciation) my understanding of my own choices of objects for my drawing.

I read a number of articles which explained this further in relation to paintings of this era.   However was aware that I have a tendency to get bogged down in research so have decided to leave further study to a later time if it continues to be relevant.

dell’ Arengo, P. (no date) The Annunciation, with saint Emidius. Available at: (Accessed: 15 June 2016).
Carlo Crivelli | Madonna and child | the met (1472) Available at: (Accessed: 15 June 2016).
Food and drink in European painting, 1400–1800 | essay | Heilbrunn Timeline of art history | the metropolitan museum of art (2000) Available at: (Accessed: 15 June 2016).
Tobin, J. (2014) Fruits and vegetables as sexual metaphor in late renaissance Rome. Available at: (Accessed: 15 June 2016).