Category Archives: Part 4

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.

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.


Pt 4 Project 6 Ex 1 Facial features

I am reasonably confident in my portraiture, I have a nasty habit of creating eyes slightly too big when I paint which tends to knock a few years off the model, as most of the paintings have been family members over the years, I don’t think they’re too upset with this…

The key for me is to inset the eyes with shadows correctly,  then the highlights bounce off the nose and cheekbones and put the features into the correct relief.

The ink sketch accompanying this exercise lacks some of the tonality that it would get if there was colour involved, and I realise I’ve used the same mark for all the surfaces involved, in my defence, hospital lighting is impersonal fluorescent and bright.


Pt 4 Project 5 Ex1 & 2 Single moving figure and groups of figures.

Neros in town sits on an intersection with views in three directions. The large glass windows are great protection from the elements so two of these are from there.

I work in a school. Children move lots.

These simple sentences are facts. However, using my position to draw the children is fraught with potential options for me to lose my job. So, these were drawn with the permission of my employer.

Moving children are a huge challenge to draw, as are bog standard members of the public in the city centre. what I found myself drawing was an overlay of individuals that became a crowd rather than the crowd as a whole from the start. The lack of information in each person is down to the speed I drew them to capture the shapes they created. I’m not convinced the images imply movement over a group of people static in the same place though.

I am happy that I have drawn people diminishing in size to denote distance from the viewer, the dark sky in the first also helps give a strong sense of place and time to help with understand the motion I have implied (mostly with the cross hatching on the road). As of this moment, I would say the first picture is the most successful because it is the most resolved picture.


The above is a small sketch done on a random bit of paper out of my bag, the little people display less motion than a Lowry and have a listless quality, looking a bit like tombstones, however, its a crowd!

Being honest I haven’t managed a moving figure a day, I have a back catalogue of figurative work and I’d say I have a reasonable understanding what happens to X if you move Y, however, moving people drawn daily says there are more hours in the day, more days in a week and I’ve concentrated my spare drawing time to portraiture (some of it definitely won’t be ending up on here). Not content with the issue that if my children are moving like this in the house I’m probably busy telling them not too before they break themselves or something else. Thankfully this is now a half term so I have a week of catching up with movement.

I think the movement in these single studies is mostly visible in the balanced nature of the figure, again I’ve not managed much detail, however the angles of the knees and elbows is uncomfortable and I’ve caught the motion in the hair.

I think these studies have worked well, the lines are quite limited, but the symbols are recognisable through that. these display an energy I like and can use further.


I like this idea of 2 people under the umbrella, the umbrella protecting and keeping them together.