Part 4 reflection

My doubts about my abilities are kind of heading in 2 direction at the end of this part of the course. I believe my ability to render a recognisable image is getting stronger and it is becoming quicker to see an image form.

My work benefits from the background sketches that make the final image, I can make surer marks. I can inform a piece of work from more angles.

Am I taking on board the techniques of other artists? my fountain pen sketches are slowed down more complete sections that interest me, which implies Andrew Wyeth has had an effect, the colour I have played with (and it comes across as play I hope) have been complementary reactions to the exercises.

I am steering away from painting as that is going to be dealt with in the next course so I’d rather get bored of drawing now and be completely fresh for what comes up in a couple of months time.

The content in the exercises has at times seemed to be a bind pushing me forward away from achieving any kind of link between pieces which is annoying. The fact that I’ve bounced around this part because the opportunities to do life studies are not being achievable linea to the course hasn’t exactly helped.

Life sort of came at me and pushed the content of the work, which odd as it is has helped me understand how future projects are potentially going to unfold for me.

I have only attended local exhibitions in the last couple of months. I have reviewed the work of a fair number of artists online and these elements are going into a book I am adding to that I’ll send in at the end of assignment 5 for my tutor to see.

On top of Andrew Wyeth, I have finished reading The Shock of the New by Robert Hughes (Thames & Hudson 1991) which ended quite handily around Lucien Freud et al and modern figurative paintings. Unfortunately I can’t help bringing some of that content back to the John Berger book about why they were painted nude to start with…

So the 2 concerns on my ability?

Can I integrate other styles into my own? I’m 41, I like to think I am reasonably open minded, I’ve started a course of education at this point which in itself shows I think I should be able to.

Can I write about art in depth enough to pass muster for higher education? The more I read, the more I think I can do it. I can string a coherent sentence together about cubism, how it works, why it was done (what it was produced on the back of, what was produced after the movement had finished)  what I get out of it. Am I far enough away from the ‘I know what I like’ mentality? I hope so. I still don’t know all the terms to describe how something I have drawn works, I’m hoping I won’t have to wade through 5 years of courses and books to reach that point, I’m also hoping I can sustain my impatience to learn for the duration of my time with OCA, because that is what is pushing me on.




Pt 4 Project 3 Ex 1 Basic shapes.

I have singularly failed to complete this task. I see people as lines that curve, run parrallel, cross, form angles, but not as shapes, the angle on a leg may create a triangle, but it will be split by a crossing leg I use the triangle that creates the pelvis, but you cannot see that in all models, the more rotund of us hide it behind lunch. I try to draw people accurately, for their benefit as much as my own. disappointing the model doesn’t strike me as a good idea. so suggesting I’m going to draw a torso as a square or as 4 heads, 6 heads for the length of the whole form, seems intrinsically wrong for me. Its kind of asking me to go back to GCSE art over pushing me on to higher education.

Even in its loosest form as cubism, it seems to me more about the similarity of where those lines go rather than the complete shape they may have come from.


The rectangle I’ve formed the body with isn’t a shape that blends itself to the models actual form, I admit this is a good way to construct the positioning on the legs, the under-leg is a much more understandable form than previous attempts with this pose.

However, its still a step removed from the softness the human form has for me. its too rigid and leaves behind a scaffolding thats permanently on view in the final image.

Pt 4 Project 6 Exercise 3 Portrait from memory or the imagination

Without a doubt, this exercise has been the most problematic in this part of the course. My memory is truly appalling, I work in a class with fantastic children and after 2 weeks of holiday I have to reacquaint myself with some of their names. I am more likely to remember what car you drive over why I know you?!? My link between the contents in my head and the end of the pencil is as a result particularly weak, so I was glad there was an option to create a portrait off the description of a character in a book or out of the imagination.

Problem there is I haven’t had the head space to read anything fictional for over 2 years and I read a lot before that which sort of blends into a big descriptive soup over separate individuals I can place in any given book.

So I asked friends for suggestions…


Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series is probably the set of books I have re-read most over the years. Cohen the barbarian is well described in the Light Fantastic and my response is above. Doing the picture again, I would pencil in the initial marks as I can’t delete the chin without using white paint and that would look at odds against the light pen marks I have made. I would also bring his head forward and down to suggest a curvature to the spine, I’d need to darken the body to take it back. I am happy with the signs of age I have given him, I tried to pull the chin up to accommodate the lack of teeth and I like the colours I’ve used clashing slightly to give a hint of sallowness to the skin-tone. I’m not convinced I’ve got the ears correct, but I am aware that as you age, ear lobes and nose ends gan droop a touch and I wanted to give a hint of that.

Another friend pointed me at a web page with sci-fi fantasy book descriptions and why they work. It helps I had read most of them anyway so understood the context of the character that then spreads throughout the rest of the book. However, my depictions have not been as successful as Cohen.

Bear in mind these are both essentially aliens, I think I need to widen Ford Prefects head. His skin ‘Seemed to be pulled backwards from the nose’ This says a lack of wrinkles to me, his eyes are unblinking, so I’m going with wider given your eyes are supposed to be watering in sympathy by the end of a conversation with his and the mouth is smiling a touch too broadly. Its difficult because this seems to be more of a caricature than a believable person. The actual highlights that place a person in the real world are missing, the individual quirks that mean the eyes a bit wonky aren’t there.

Alia from Dune has blue eyes due to the spice, she is a very young child who was born old and as such I have tried to portray her as young with the confident bearing of someone older. She is a more believable head and face than Ford, proportionally Alia is more correct. I just don’t have enough imagination to complete the drawing though.

I prefer Cohen.

Pt 4 self portraits continued….

I post most of the work on my Facebook feed and/or the OCA Sketchbook Facebook page, it gets likes and comments, I haven’t posted all the sketchbook work in this part of the course because it relates to Granny and Grandad and I’m not into deliberately upsetting people. So the overwhelming view is that I’m not very complementary in portraiture.

So I did myself again.



This utilised my camera to sort the pose. As a starter I’m not a mirror image, so people that know me get the view they know. Second I wanted to get away from the look of total concentration I know I descend into when I’m creating (with added slouch) and I wanted to play with the lighting. Also, my camera has an app, so I can set it up at a distance and control distance, focus and shutter from my mobile instead of the haphazard use of the timer on the back followed by a dash to sit down.

It means there are no small sketches in my book, however, I appear to have drawn myself a fair bit over this last month, so I’m not sure yet another picture would make that much difference to an informed picture of me.

I started the picture with a very light pencil placement of eyes, face shape mouth and hair, no shading. Then stated using willow charcoal, the lighter finish I get with willow created the first layer of shading all over, this was followed by compressed charcoal in a lead holder, this is a more controlled line and is darker. I kept rubbing back to keep the highlights and then decided to over-lay a conte white to increase the highlights.

I then rubbed those out, they had a ghost like effect. I then rubbed away more of the charcoal from the face as it was to harsh and added black conte to the hair to make sure the face pops forward.

I am happy with the shading around the eyes and the smile lines taking those parts of the face back as the high light on the nose brings it forward. I don’t feel I have created a flat image and as much as I understand and am happy with the pictures I’ve done previously being good representations, this one is probably a better way to portray myself or anyone to the world, I haven’t left anything out, the lines are still there, I’m not airbrushing away the years. I prefer that.

Assignment 4 picture 3

My grandmother has been a recurring theme in this part of the course. I have drawn her with differing success previously in the sketchbook so seemed to be a good choice for the final assignment piece. I played around with the light and picked the lighting from above so the shadows on her face could pick up her features.



I wasn’t keen on the profile view and chose an angle while gran talked to my mother. This marker version is best described as wonky but between this and all the other sketches and a photo taken at the time I continue on..


I have another sheet drying now with tissue and patterned wrapping paper on adhered with matt medium. I want to combine some perm marker and charcoal over it to see how it works. I will probably need to use white acrylic to create the highlights in that one.




I ended up using gesso, over stuck on paper (majority was gold tissue), permanent markers and charcoal and Conte crayons. The portrait is atmospheric and the marks fresh enough not to make it looked overworked.

The original willow charcoal didn’t like the onslaught from the fixative and the gold shows through in patches on the face. I prefer to view this picture closer, it seems happier to me then.

I like the way all of the paper is covered, the picture feels whole. The features come out along with the preceding shoulder and the lighting is effective. There are a range of emotions at play. The mid section is darkest with the eye pulled up to the eye level, partially because of the striking white hair. I changed the colour of grans cardigan from orange to green so it was at the same interest level as the gold, the warmest part is then the added peach and red in grans face.

Doing this again I would gesso all of the face so I had better purchase for the conte, I wasn’t planning on using it, however marker pen wasn’t showing up as well as I had hoped. I also wasn’t planning on ending up with a relevant flesh-tone however, the gold stumped me slightly and this is my gran. Turns out I didn’t feel I could do her justice otherwise.


Assignment 4 (pictures 1 & 2)

Assignment 4 asks for 3 pictures.

1. A line drawing in A1 has the potential to lack punch from a distance if the line isn’t visible further than 3 feet away so the medium chosen for the drawing was at least as important to the pose. I wanted quite a crisp line so used the fountain pen for the sketches to sort the angle, the side on was too whistlers mother and the back removed the potential for getting the features wrong. I went for elevated to the side as this posed some interesting problems with foreshortening in the chair as well as the model. Animating the model was probably a step too far for my daughter (who I now owe a new nail varnish to)So you get a quite relaxed pose that lacks any kind of emotion except in the hands clutching the edge of the cardigan.


The angle meant the head fit to the toes 4 times and it didn’t look correct, so I extended the chin down and to erase the exsess lines whited over with acrylic paint. Would probably have helped if I hadn’t used cream cartridge paper.

I added the background to fill out the image and I like the odd angle of the rug in placing the chair, it has a feel of Van Goghs chair or his bedroom in Arles.

I tried it in charcoal but wasn’t happy with the thickness of the line, I didn’t want to use a paintbrush and ink as this is Drawing 1, not Painting 1. Pastels could have worked, but I still have concerns over their stability for transporting twice without the protection of a window mount. So I went for the pitt pens over the permanent markers, mostly as they are more expressive and responsive in the line.

I used a couple of greys, getting steadily darker as I became more sure of my line and finished off the edge with a black. This build up in the line has helped make it more important on the paper so the figure and the chair stand out.

Am I happy with the picture? It doesn’t look like my daughter. I have drawn Sam many times over the last few years, with much more success in the likeness than this, I chose a permanent line I can’t correct so accuracy without repetition isn’t going to happen, which is annoying as I am happy with the proportions in the body and the chair. This captures a moment in her life of mild visible insecurity at yet again posing for mum, she is enclosed by the arms of the chair which I think gives it as an object more power in the picture.

My greatest problem is what the picture lacks in tone, one OCA student on the facebook page suggested it would make a good illustration on a book cover and I can see his point. Its a picture, but it feels flat without the shading I would have put in place to round out the form.

2. Lying down in tone. This was done at life studies and I’d say was a bit of a fail, I shouldn’t have done the outline of the form. I chose charcoal as its a quick filler and I’m not in charge of the pose or time so speed is of the essence. I achieved 3 quick sketches around the sofa before settling on one that foreshortened down from the head, this gave an interesting line in the leg and because of the angle in the lamp a more appealing reveal in the head.DSC01038

This model has a marvellous way of holding himself and given his age, has great lines in his muscles and bones to make up the form. However I think they are better shown when he is sitting or standing and holding himself in tension. It is a successful sketch of the human form (even if it is unclothed against the requirement of the assignment brief), however I think I might be rightly told off for all the lines.




pt 4 portraits research

I’ve been meandering through Artfinder and Saatchi online. I can honestly state I am drawn more to the painterly approach than the realist. The pictures just carry more energy.

I was advised at life studies to look at the work of Debra Sweeney because of a couple of the sketches I had done that evening, where the shading had been fairly solid areas. Debras work uses a refined line to almost create an image that she can colour in with collaged paper, these are in harmonious shades to the background work and act to support the form and give it a surface. This is a more refined take on the same principle used by Nevena Kostic I think my self portrait has come up more like her work.

I wanted to attempt a different approach to a portrait so I tried to use the applied papers to create a small area of shadow. Originally I created the picture with black pen and ink, then added grey perm markers, next the papers and finally the coloured ink. I want to try this again with charcoal or black ink, I just have to find the charcoal and a means of putting the ink on the paper that isn’t a brush but is less uniform and thin as a pen. This picture, the ink was applied with the other end of the dip pen, so it has more body as a line.


Continuing on from this I then did a permanent marker image but wanted to keep away from natural skin colours, Michele Patrelli does this to good affect, admittedly his work is in acrylic over charcoal and the layering means the lightest colour has the strength of being on top.



Have now found the charcoal and looked at some of Nevena Kostic’s charcoals. I haven’t been random enough to achieve this imageIMG_8854

Charcoal and having done it on a pre-prepared gesso’d potato sack, I wanted to bring up the highlights more, so used conte.

Its an eye-catching piece, I think it would look great framed up properly.