D1 Assignment 2

  • the use of colour in drawing
  • the most appropriate medium for the subject
  • composition and context
  • mark-making and contrasts of line and tone
  • accurate and expressive depiction of form
  • experimentation with idea, material and method.

Looking through my sketchbooks for this part, I had a great deal of fun with different mediums, some I had not touched for a long time (oil pastels and pencil crayons). others that where new (permanent markers).

It is an eclectic mix of exercises making up the projects so picking one is a bit like a minefield. Interiors was initially a definite no, mostly based on the message in a picture potentially being quite bland.

I will spend more time drawing horses, mostly as at least one of the major pictures I offer up for this part will be heading in the direction of the models owner after assessment and partially as I haven’t drawn horses enough to say I understand the way they are made up, to be able to instinctively understand the shape of a movement yet.

Still life as a section was huge, I enjoyed most of it, I believe I achieved a range of final images that complete the exercises with imagination and life and with pictures like the mackeral I can envisage a series of pictures rather than the one I completed.

My chosen subject was to be my Grandads toolbench, recent family happenings (at 93 he tried to do some DIY mis-judged a situation with a table saw and is now banned from electronic power tools and his garage is going to be cleaned out, partially to dissuade him of the notion of trying again. Its OK, the bandages will come off eventually) Making some sort of record of a place and series of things that have defined him so long spoke to me as something I could achieve.

I had two long sessions of sketching in the garage and after the first line study realised that there is just too much going on on the bench to do a wide-angled interior shot, it would take a piece of paper the same size of the desk to catalogue most of the items and the set-up he has created, having a hint of Heath Robinson about the space.


So I sketched some specific items and angles to view them at. I also took photos to help with the time in the space. I chose to go with the light through the door rather than putting the overhead or spot light on, I preferred the lower light and softer shadows of the space now unused.


I wanted a surface that was already used so lay down written sections of newsprint onto an A1 heavyweight watercolour sheet, I then sat back and looked at my sketches and the photos and the one that struck me was the can in a can. Its just a random thing on the table but it shone out and even my Grandad can’t explain or remember why he put it in there which sort of sat well in the clutter for me.

I’ve had good success over this part of the course with line over colour, I wanted this to be another multimedia piece, but wanted to stay away from loose washes of colour. Also, as much as the sketchbook pictures were mostly coloured fine tipped pens, they were only from WH Smiths and have an unknown reaction to prolonged light which is a shame as I was happy with the colour and strength of the pictures, I wanted to represent the untidiness by covering the paper with its shapes and angles, and after initially doing a pencil outline of the can in the centre and gesso-ing it, I made it larger, I realise this makes the objects around even more indistinct and a jumble, but I really wanted the focus to be this can.

The picture was completed with permanent markers and fine-liners and for its size is a strong image, the colours ping out and I am really happy with it. I am slowly learning to develop the finished story through the work behind in the sketchbookIMG_7401

I think this assignment shows progress from my initial piece, I am experimenting with materials and learning which ones work for me. I don’t think I have achieved as much benefit from the research points as I have from reading books externally to these,

A Closer look Still Life Erika Languir, 2010, National Gallery Company Limited.

Looking at the overlooked four essays on still life painting by Norman Bryson, 1995 Reaktion books LTD

Viewing Renaissance Art, arranged by Kim Woods 2007 Open University press

Cezanne, (this was a cheap little book that gives a thin account of his life and practise as well as a good range of his pictures over the time, it also does not list the author or arranger of  the work) 2005 Grange books (good catalogue of images though)

sections of 2 open university books kindly lent by a friend, Reputations, edited by Elaine Moohan 2008 (section on Cezanne)

and Art & Visual Culture 1850-2010, Modernity to Globalisation, edited by Steven Edwards & Paul Wood 2013 reprint by Tate publishing for Open University. Parts 1=3, detailing a view on the move from impressionists onwards through Japanese prints (which definitely had an impact on Picasso)

Blitz and Blockade: Henry Moore at the Hermitage.Fontanka; 1st Edition edition 2011

Picasso’s Drawings 1890-1921 (Yale University Press 2011)

I’ve also now got Betty Edwards Colour book on the go (2004 Tarcher/Penguin), as much as this is going to be an excellent book for the painting course, and its giving me an awareness of tone and chroma, I’m not sure where its going to lead me in D1.

Growing up The young British Artists at 50, Jeremy Cooper 2012 Prestel Verlag. as an introduction I understand to some people I didn’t think I did.

I am also about halfway through Writing on Drawing series editor John Steers published by Intellect Books, which is a mind bending little read. I am beginning to appreciate alternatives I would have dismissed like Armando and Picasso because of the understanding I am reaching through all the reading.

I’ve also got the catalogue for the Great British Drawings exhibition at the Ashmolean, its a tome. printed by the Ashmolean mostly written by Colin Harrison and was an exhibition I went to as an OCA trip. I haven’t written it up and there wasn’t time whilst walking around with the other students to sketch but between the Ashmolean and the exhibition at MOMA that day it was an eye opening experience around the variety of art this country has created at an amazing skill level. We were advised to look at pictures and work out if they were finished pieces or supporting sketches. Fascinating!

Project 6 At home

Ex 1 Quick sketches around the house

I started in the lounge and worked in A2, this was a bit generous for quick sketches, I haven’t got a working brush pen for a thicker line at the moment so they ended up spidery, but unsmudgeable. I like that….

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Because of the challenge of drawing each items perspective, the corners are favourite pictures of mine. Just to explain, my easel is in the lounge, next to the bookcase so that area is very cluttered and our home is on the downward slope, so over the road is much higher and behind the equivalent lower.

The rest of the quick sketches are in my sketchbook two per page, so are a4. this is a much more meaningful size for the nib of my pen.

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My favourite room was my daughters bedroom, she has a bunkbed so the opportunities for interesting angles were much better than everywhere else. however, the opposition to a long stay meant I wasn’t going to do any more than quick sketches. I also enjoyed the toilet, drawn from about a third down the stairs, its quite an imposing angle on the loo, which works for me.

Also like the downstairs hallway, I have a table tucked under the stairs where I can set up still lifes and lay paper down to dry but the view the other way worked better, even taking into account sketching down the stairs.

Ex 2 Composition – an interior

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I picked the hall by the front door for these sketches as they represent a lot of information I can choose from. they get the best daylight in the late afternoon evening from the window to the left of the stairs. I varied my sketching position between standing, sitting and on the floor, I ended up seated at my table for the rest of the exercises as that is the best place to work. so I missed some of the melodrama an upward angle would afford from the floor, for the ability to remove myself from the space around paper and board to big to move.

The pencil sketch has enough information for me, the parquet is more than required and I prefer the colour of the line, mostly as I know the walls are a pale yellow.

Ex3 Tonal Study


I was beginning to lose the will to live by this point. my house is a mess, mostly due to the volume of art stuff littering it and the  number of books I have purchased this year versus the number of new bookshelves acquired to put them on. but here is my tonal study, it looks like I was bored, because I was.



Light sketch under without viewing the paper, ink and brush the lines, colour wash, representing the 2 sides and floor. white crayon was applied prior to wash to ensure the strongest light areas where kept clear. I could work into this more, but it would end up dark, and then it wouldn’t represent the space.

Ex 5 Mixed media.

I moved to the lounge for this one, the light radiating from my floor lamp is warm and inviting and I have a peace lilly planted in a jam jar hanging on the swivel arm. my sofa arm is a warm red and the walls a rich golden yellow. my mixed media studies as a result are all warm.

IMG_7362This one is pencil with oil pastels and ink wash, this hasn’t worked, the oil didn’t resist the acrylic ink wash and the effect is muddy. but because of the oil pastels, I can’t overlay a pen and strengthen the shapes

IMG_7365Tried again with ink line prior to pastel. line is stronger than colour, this also hasn’t worked for me

IMG_7361I gesso’d the first two pieces of paper, this one I attached the labels of some ale (the colours match my lounge) and washed the back with acrylic yellow ochre loosened with matt medium most of the rest is permanent marker with some conte white to highlight over. This is my favourite of the four, the shapes are strong and the white under light comes through well.

IMG_7358 I sat on the sofa for this one, so a much different perspective on the lamp  which misses out placing it with the sofa arm., this one is perm marker, oil pastels pencil crayons and that was enough. I was happy with the previous one so I wasn’t enthusiastic with this.

Research point How contemporary artists draw interiors

Houses, homes. These represent the places we are at our most comfortable and sometimes the places we least want to be. They normally reflect our personalities and the era in which we are living.

Drawing an interior is normally something which is a part of another drawing, the focus is elsewhere. The figure sat on the bed (Zak Smith) the still life objects that have been drawn on the sideboard (Roman Ondak . The picture I am refering to, I can only find in vitamin D Phaidon press Ltd 2013 edition, put together by Emma Dexter. P233) or the memory of events happening in the space (Mayer Kirshenblatt). The interior is a tool to place the other objects in.

I Like Zak Smiths interiors, for his use of pattern and line to fill the picture, to make every inch important in some way. He displays the mess, the personal detritus of living people, it just so happens that most of the people he draws work in the porn industry, however, as that is his other job its hardly a surprise they aren’t nuns. I like his use of black line and limited palette to give stark images, I think its only the patterns in some of the images that humanise the spaces, because the poses of the women generally doesn’t.

Philip Pearlsteins interiors are things which wrap around his nudes. They are filled with interesting seemingly random items and languishing bodies. I think the angles he aims at are more about viewing the anatomy and playing with foreshortening etc than showing off the inside of his studio, its walls are magnolia and it has high skirting boards, I think we see more of the city outside than inside.

The question, is as a result a bit leading, I think the answer is mostly contemporary artists aren’t really drawing the interior as anything other than a support for the rest of the picture.

Pt2 Project 5 Pets and other animals

My parents took me to a Lanseer exhibition when I was about 10? Huge imposing paintings of great animals displayed to feature their best. I can only really remember the stag, in a dark landscape. Impressive, but not as memorable as the Turners we saw.

Which is a great diservice to the cause of animals in art. Its also not drawing.

We have cats, they are 15 and 16 years of age and given the expensive senior cat food they munch, are pretty active in a kind of oh look, you’ve moved out of it the beds ours for the day kind of way. So not really up for an interesting sketch unless you want the disdainful sleeping thing…

So, I visited some horses from a friend.

Exercise 1 IMG_7146   IMG_7149 IMG_7150

this represents the first days sketches, in the field there is a white pony and a white horse. All sketching was done around the middle of the day, 2 sessions on hot days and the last was humid and we had had rain. The horses weren’t in the best of moods for the last one, but it meant they moved and flicked, presenting ticks.IMG_7148IMG_7147

The first days sketches developed towards the end with more muscle visible as I noticed the bone and strength around the face, neck and legs.


Day 2 presented the movement for my first exercise, the sketching is becoming more accurate with a feel for the individual animals

IMG_7177 This is my A1 sketch for Ex1, its not as much of a line darwing as I would like, I have softened it with the water solulbe pencils, but it represents the lack of movement and relaxed feel of the ‘sittings’

Ex2 is the foxes skull which I have played with in my sketchbook already. The graphite sketches I created when I originally borrowed it were strong work, and far better than the charcoal work I achieved in readiness for the final exercise piece. however I am aware that I have issues working charcoal small (still resting my hand on the page) and wanted the challenge of creating with the medium in a larger size as my feedback from assignment one had included comments on not blending it seemed an ideal point to prove that I am happy with charcoal.

I rested the skull on black fabric, I wanted to be able to see a direct contrast between the bone and not bone. then worked the paper (A2) with a thick wash of acrylic yellow ochre, overlaid with two coats of gesso, this gave the paper a warm old feel which seemed relevant given the subject, as well as some tooth for the medium.

I used a 5.6mm lead holder with charcoal which I can sharpen with a pencil sharpener, getting a fine point with pastels/charcoal and conte has been a bone of contention for me so this provides an answer for at least one option.


Ex3 using line and tone.


The third days sketches where more prone to movement because the pair where annoyed, with me and each other, the flies where doubly annoying and the flicked more. this is a movement blended from two sketches, the background is blank as I don’t think its necessary, the horse is grounded with dirt and its own shadow. Its quite heavy to me, but I am happy with the shapes I created the horse with. its done on pastel paper just shy of a1 with conte crayons.

Ex 4 Using source material

The exercise asks us to pick anatomically based pictures, use them for study then personalise the style, make it our own.

I’ve gone with Stubbs as he dissected horses for a while before he painted them, which explains why he was so good at them. his detailed sketches show skin level, peeled to muscles, then down to bone.

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My interpretation is a gel pen and light ink wash with a hint of grey permanent marker,sketch of the head on a preprepared brown paper stuck on water colour sheet, washed with inks. Its supposed to show movement as it swings round, the intense scribbling that works the effect is too long winded for it to have worked though and I keep being told it looks like a unicorn ?!?  If I add the boddy to the left, it just unbalances the picture, and it makes no sense to do that without adding the legs bottom right. Win some and lose some.


research point. Using animals in drawings.

We are asked to look at the work of Paula Rego and her use of mythical creatures in her artwork as well as other contemporary artists who use mythical and/or real animals in their drawings.

We’ve put animals in art since the days we lived in caves, whether those images where as thanks for previous catches, or to create the luck for the next hunt we don’t know. Whizz through art history and you have Egyptian Gods and Greek myths, then flies on still life canvas to show off the artists talents through Stubbs healthy nags and Constables horse slogging it through a waterway with a cart and in a loose way, we hit the last century.

We’ve in an era of anything goes, from Anthropomorphism (admittedly the images were created for advertising, however as an example of anthropomorphism, they are accurate) in Cassius Marcellus Coolidge dogs playing poker to Rego who’s images use animals according to the Tate’s write up on her  (Tate page on Paula Rego) her characters often took the form of animals for satirical effect

War 2003 Paula Rego born 1935 Presented by the artist (Building the Tate Collection) 2005 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T12024
War 2003 Paula Rego born 1935 Presented by the artist (Building the Tate Collection) 2005 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T12024


The use of rabbits to highlight a family in war as a bunch of fluffy white bunnies, domesticated injured and potentially fleeing for their lives resonates with my middle class sensibilities quite well, there are lots of other connotations you can place against the iconography she’s used, from the use of rabbits fleeing another species, to the reactions of the members of the family to the situation, however…

Pucci at Saatchi Niccola Pucci does not need to characterise all her animals, they stand proud in her art, strong animals sure of foot and staring at you as in rooster 1 I think I prefer this type of art. Its much more forthright and you can enjoy the skill of the picture and the immediate emotional response without trying to guess the message.

I particularly like the work of Mandy Racine its not that I have a specific thing about horses, its more the use of medium creating the pictures has such energy that it would be a pleasure to have something like this trying to be contained on a wall.

I think my problem with Paula Regos picture is that its more of a cartoon than a picture for me, more something I would see in a newspaper like this James Gillray piece. Anticipation,_or_the_approaching_fate_of_the_French_Commercial_Treaty_by_James_Gillray

I’m not convinced its something I want to waste too much of my time with at the expense of learning other techniques I guess is my major point, anthropomorphism has its place, but I prefer the more emotional response to a picture without a caricature.

Another use is as a signature totem, in the way Loui Jover uses a little bird or Zak Smith has an octopus, then the use must be through familiarity? or as a representation of the artist? in most of these cases though, the emphasis is on another aspect of the drawing, the animal is merely there to remind you this work is by a specific artist I’d have thought.IMG_7202IMG_7207

Pt2 Project4 EX4 Monochrome


Mackerel are cheap, they don’t take up much space in the fridge and 3 of them balance on a couple of chiller blocks out of the freezer easily, which is handy when you are creating on a hot day and the bloke at the fish counter states that mackerel start to smell faster than all the other fish….

Incorporating a man made object, a plate. why a plate? in my natural home setting meat only sits on plates as an end product (a meal) or because its defrosting. another block of wood picture? I’ve done a few of those in the last couple of weeks already.

Fish needs to be wrapped in something to transport it and plates have a finish that is rarely anything less than shiney, so I think I’ve really achieved a contrast in textures as asked for by the exercise.

Why yellow? looking at my fish i could detect many colour options that would work on their own or all together, thats the thing about an iridescent surface however, yellow stood out as the most common colour. but by its nature, I couldn’t justify colouring in the whole fish and by gessoing the spot where the fish lay, they stand out from the print as it repeats the effect of them being lit from overhead. The fish are definitely the stars of this picture

I keep feeling I am cheating as I come up with solutions for pictures, should I have drawn the newspaper? It would have changed the effect and possibly the levels of meaning, it wouldn’t have had the viewer thinking about the extra layers, and would I think look less contemporary.

I’m really happy with the effect I have achieved with this piece. Its a really strong picture and would work well as a series of different fish lit the same way to help achieve the colour blending to the edge of the paper. Its A2, newspaper acrylic mediumed onto thick watercolour paper then 2 layers of gesso to the centre. Black fine liner pen, grey letraset marker pen for the shadows, a light pencil crayon to apply the yellow to the fish and yellow/yellow ochre acrylic mix to wash the newspaper. then a light rub of silver acrylic paint over some parts of the fish.

Project 4 Still Life, EX1 using line EX2 using tone EX3 experimenting with mixed media


Putting depth in a still life involves shading and tone, so the grouping of objects when those are denied you, is more important. After some brief sketches in the sketchbook around positioning the items, the first picture in this exercise is more illustrative than painterly, its a selection of objects on the same paper, but there is nothing to connect them other than their obvious link to water.


Picture two, has the overlap of objects that gives the scene more believability, but I accurately darkened the seaweed and its taking too much prominence as a result of which I don’t like it as much as I think I should.IMG_0198

Picture three I’ve pretty much ignored the seaweed and personally, I don’t find it stops the picture from explaining to you the viewer, what everything is. the white top left is the tiny window under the stairs, which is west facing (ish) so was brighter than the bleached  starfish I like the way that the light frames the objects and helps centre your eye unusually off centre to the paper. Would I crop the paper to frame this piece? Don’t know, square would work well, but I kind of like the unfinished side. Is it a cheat as the light is adding depth? Yup. Its too much of a study otherwise.

Ex 2 I took this exercise 2 ways, one is to the letter, 3 colours that reference light, mid and dark tones to create the image, the colours limited as they are then after creating one of the pictures that way, I added colour on top.


Don’t like this one, its unfinished and messy.


This is more finished, you can tell the distinct shapes of the objects but it lacks the crisp edges. these two where Derwent pastel pencils, they are harder and less expressive than my proper soft pastels, the smaller medium is really good for fine detail, features and the like, but they don’t lay down colour with the same immediacy as my Unisons and Jacksons pastels. also, I used sketching paper which doesn’t grab the medium in the same way as the Daler Rowney pastel paper below.


This is three colours over dark paper and a brown to denote separation of the objects from the wood of the table. Its done quickly and I’m really happy with it. I’ve accurately depicted the board the apples and jug resting on it and the shapes of the objects are believably round. Of course it helps that there is a bevelled edge to the cheese board for the light to reflect off to legitimatly provide an edge and therefore a line, hey, who am I to argue.


This is my favourite, the red as an addiditon brings the apples right out of the picture Its a really fast creation that as much as I think breaks the rules of the exercise, makes it the best of the 4 pictures. however, the most accurate to the request is the third

Just using tone can create beautiful impressions, but I feel they lack the clarity and focus to get you attention. they are indistinct images.

Mixed media is currently something I really enjoy using. The only issue is normally, will that medium work on that layer. I like the depth you can get working into a picture so there is more for a viewer to search out without overburdening  the image with iconology (I’m a simple soul).


my continued viewing of Picasso’s Drawings 1890-1921 (Yale University Press 2011 Organised by Susan Grace Galassi and Marilyn McCully) is continuing to influence the lines I’m creating, Picasso as much as he played with media extensively, created strong lines and clearly defined shapes, I am still strongly taken with the Henry Moore overworking with charcoal, and while the first try of this exercise was a fail due to the angle I was working at, mostly because of the size I chose to work (A1, unfortunately, the space I am working in isn’t really big enough to put the easel, I managed it in the end, but not before I originally taped the paper to the wall and stood to sketch in the objects. this put them on the wrong angle and separated them from each other from the start. Which is a shame, if I had achieved the right angle I wanted from the beggining, I would have persisted with the first picture and I believe it would have been successful.


This second image works for me as a collection of objects creating a different landscape. the bottom layer is an old envelope, wrapping paper and patterned tissue attached with acrylic medium. Next is a wash of loose colours in acrylic paint. Then I tried pencil and charcoal and couldn’t get the strength in the line I was creating, so went to using an acrylic ink and Chinese style writing brush. this then had an overlay of permanent markers, and some dip pen with Conte over that. Thats created the most depth and took the back piece further away. Final highlight with white acrylic ink to bring the starfish over the brown paper and a couple of edges on the shell and I have a piece that successfully displays the objects in A2 (fits on my table) going back in space.

I admit the use of found papers at the back sort of creates a false background to the piece, but thats a different level of interest which I think I’ve toned down to a point where it compliments.

So, the line gives the detail, the tone the place in the space. Next is colour…