Self-assessment of projects

Looking back on Course Assignments.


The Personal Still Life for Assignment 1 was a positive start.  Inks, brush ,pen and charcoal resulted in a piece that demonstrated an emotional attachment to objects which all had meaning for me.    Problems were with accurate observation and this resulted in some distortions. Overall though I was encouraged by my tutor’s feedback.

In the future I’d like to follow on this project by making a ‘cubist space’ based on Picasso’s and Braque’s work in the early 1900s.  I enjoyed researching and looking at other artist’s Still Lives.  Velasquez, Cezanne, Picasso and Manet were artists I  explored.



Assignment 2  I entitled The Conversation. It depicted figures in my kitchen, a subject close to my heart as this space is the hub of family life.  I used a variety of media but found some of the observational drawing difficult.  I became frustrated and improvised with a dramatic curve to try and unite the composition .I was unsure about this and my tutor confirmed my doubts. After this feedback I had two more tries still using mixed media. However I looked more carefully and removed the curve –and this created a different work albeit still room for improvement.Drawing my own environment made me look afresh at the familiar . I looked at Daumier, Jack Smith, Auerback and Kossoff  . I found Jack Smith’s paintings of subjects such as bathing a child in a stark interior particularly evocative. .



Assignment 3 entailed an outdoor scene of my choice which I called Wintry Curves.  Although I love using perspective as it creates drama , I didn’t get it right in my first attempt so that the bus shelter depicted was not readable.  Also I felt there was too much colour for a wintry scene.  Useful feedback from my tutor confirmed this so I had another attempt which was more successful.  One of the things I want to repeat is the ‘Sketchbook walk’ an enjoyable way for a keen walker such as myself getting down initial impressions.  Lots of artists gave me food for thought in this section. Some of the main ones are El Greco, Constable, Samuel Palmer, David Jones, Carel Weight and John Virtue.




Assignment 4 was  challenging but also of particular relevance as I like including figures in my pictures.

The assignment consisted of a figure study in line, a figure study in tone and a self-portrait.  I was least confident about my pencil study in line but my tutor liked the face. The body was much too small but as my model was tiny at 5 foot I had decided this was expressive. Bearing in mind my tutor’s comments though I will repeat this drawing and enlarge the body.  The feedback on my tonal clothed figures was that they were more successful than the nude models – dip pen and ink seemed to work best. I was interested that each of my self-portaits was different.  Rembrandt,  John Minton, Manet, Auerbach, Kossoff, and Tracey Emin were artists I researched.



Assignment 5 brought together two of my main interests – I started from an observational base of first, my garden,  and second, my grandchild . I chose Samuel Palmer, Robert Colquhoun and Joan Eardley as inspiration. I tried working on stuck down tissue paper and realised it produced a highly textured surface which could be effective. I drew the child several times but got more ‘childlikeness’ by making some monoprints.  Joan Eardley’s studies helped me .  A lot of sketches meant I got to know my subject well- I think this is important as it widens out the possibilities open to one. I have loved playing around with materials  throughout the course and mixing the media  lent itself to my subject. I had a go at a preliminary piece of work on a square format and became absorbed. In my final piece I altered the colouring to make it warmer -I think Palmer’s and Colquhoun’s influence came through. I was very nervous about this last project but once I started working I felt more at ease. This mixture of trepidation and enthusiasm about my final piece of work made me decide, as a finale, to  make a concertina book of prints on Child in a Garden. I was pleased I did it as it has led to other ideas. I had just come across Edward Burne-Jones and his exquisite pen and ink drawing: ‘The Knight’s Farewell ‘(1858) (Owens, The Art of Drawing) so , one idea for the future, is to make a  pen and ink drawing of my garden with a Burne-Jones like figure.  Finally  I enjoyed being given the freedom to choose my own subject and media in this last assignment.

So, the above are some thoughts on the five assignments for Drawing 1.

Reflections on Part 4- Jim’s comments

Thinking about feedback ..

The Figure and the Face.


Advice:  Slow down – look closely –try different media such as compressed charcoal and oil pastels – use more fixative.

Jim recommended this you tube site:

How to use the Measuring Technique with Phelim Donfield, Artist, Dublin, is the one Jim recommended.

This site is helpful and  I will pursue drawing from the model on some of these sites  Some advice given by the teacher :

  1. Establish the perimeters of the figures and lightly sketch in – so have a shape rather like a gift wrap .
  2. Horizontal and vertical measurements leave less room for error than measuring by angles.

3    Relationship of sizes important – look for these eg. Are there parts of the body the same length as the head – is the distance from the elbow to hand similar to another part – and so on.

4 Negative shapes will give a more unbiased evaluation because they are easier to see. E.g. the shape made between the top of the legs.

5.   Make construction lines light.

6.   Do longer drawings for accuracy,  short drawings for  expression.

I was encouraged that Jim liked the sketchbook I had made and will make another one for Assignment 5. This will mean my preliminary work (apart from larger pieces) is all in one place which will be helpful for me in the future.

As usual Jim sent me some  great pictures to learn from and look at – a stunning portrait of John Minton by Lucien Freud. Richard Diebenkorn – love the figure drawing .  Other suggestions which I will follow up are to visit the National Portrait Gallery – exhibition of Russian portraits – and then the BP National Portrait Award.

Also re-do the picture of Lois and make the body bigger and add fixative and re-work some of the figure drawings.