Assignment 1 – Tutor feedback

My tutor has pointed out some shortfalls in my working methods and also in my drawings, which requires a rethink of the way I work, especially after my recent disappointing drawing mark. I have not been engaging fully enough in the comments of my tutors and have been too keen to press on with the course rather than go back and work on what I have already done to improve them. I am therefore going to work through my tutor’s comments fully this time, go back and make changes / improve what I have done in the last assignment before carrying on to the next one.

One of the main comments that I need to work on is to have more fluidity / take more risks / avoid describing and interpret a theme / do sketches without worrying about accuracy/drips/etc. I think this is where I need to focus my energy – coming from a scientific/engineering background, I think I am too precise and detailed and this element gives me difficulty. This looseness is often what I enjoy, certainly in paintings, so I do need to concentrate on this area.

Project 1

My tutor’s comments were that he felt that my composition could be more dynamic and engaging with the viewer through the development of some of the rectangular forms and their relationship to the curves which could be done through the linking of the small cut out circles.

I agree that whilst the composition is harmonious, it isn’t very exciting. What I’m not sure of is how to develop the rectangular forms or link the small cut out circles.

I am assuming that the area he is referring to is the rectangle on the square which doesn’t quite fit in with the other pieces. Adding a circle to this area might link it to the rest of the design.

Project 1 changes

I did a few sketches on this:


And some Photoshop work on the image:

Development1 Development3

The addition of this circle does improve the sculpture. Both options work, but I think I prefer the half hidden one.

I did wonder about adding more circles:


However, I’m not sure this adds anything and you can have too much of a good thing!

I went back to my tutor to see if was on the right track or not. His comments were that he felt it “needed more happening in it” and “responding to the circles and curves and adding to this may have opened up some interesting dynamics to the sculpture”. Adding these circles is perhaps a small step in this direction, but could be developed much further.

Project 2

My tutor comments here about an early idea I had about sea groynes which was developed into nest sculptures and then a theme of ‘residencies’ but them abandoned because of material constraints. His comments were that I should spend more time on a subject and develop a theme with more rigour as I had started out doing. He also encourages me to not over think the material constraints, just get going and make.

A question I needed to ask of my tutor then was “can I go outside the material / dimension constraints specified in the projects? Or should I keep to these constraints but develop my ideas further to adapt my ideas to these constraints?”

His response was:

With regards to constraints of the course including dimensions and materials, please allow yourself to go outside the constraints of these projects and respond to the sculpture for what it is and not what the course guidelines tell you, they are only a guide and you will not be penalised for breaking the boundaries.

Try not to get confused or frustrated with regards to briefs and ideas, as with my first comment, remember this is about sculpture first and foremost, yes develop your ideas but I would like you to handle and make with your materials without boundaries or constraints of any kind, not with briefs or the course notes.

Remember to get into the making of sculpture, get used to the feel of the materials and marry this with your initial ideas for a work. Avoid at all costs designing a sculpture.

This is very exciting to me as I felt I was stifling the urge to play and go outside the boundaries of the projects. His final comment is also very interesting “Avoid at all costs designing a sculpture”. I guess this is where I went wrong in this project and ended up prescribing the outcome too early in the process (although changes were made whilst constructing it).

On my ‘explosion of fire’ sculpture, his comments were:

you need to be more playful with the materials, allowing a sense of ambition to take over the making of this sculpture. For example what if the wood struts ‘exploded’ out of the sculptures board and starting to emanate out of the work?

This now seems like an obvious development of the theme I was working on and I should have been thinking along these lines.

Another comment he makes:

The back board is also very illustrative of the idea of fire. Try to avoid describing your theme and instead look to interpret it as you use the materials combined with your imaginative interpretation of an explosion of fire might feel like!

In some ways I think this is a reflection of my lack of painting skills, but it also relates to the comment I made earlier about struggling to take risks and being too precise. The main issue though is the lack of enough thinking / development work before committing to an idea.

A revised painting of the backboard:


And with burnt wood exploding out of the sculpture this time (would need to be suspended on fishing/nylon wire from the ceiling):


I have gone too illustrative again by adding the red ember areas and the background could still be much better.

His final comment on this project was:

you need to be much more self-critical in your evaluation of your sculpture, discuss the successes and failures of the work and try to develop an insight into your thought processes.

The evaluations have all been re-done


These need to be used more as a tool to develop my ideas and these drawings need to show more ambition, working at a minimum of A2 in size and using fluid materials.

Assignment 1

this a much better sculpture and shows you have the ability to be intuitive about your making process without illustrating an idea.

I need to ensure I continue with this in my future work.

Your drawings in this assignment have not fulfilled the criteria of the assignment notes, please try to be ambitious with your drawing and use it to extrapolate another layer of creativity out of the thing that you have made.

The course notes didn’t seem to specify any drawings for this assignment piece, so the ones I made were a bit more of an afterthought to the work. This is definitely an area to fix!


This was a pastel drawing I attempted on my assignment piece – not very successfully though. I really should keep going and get this right, but I am finding this sculpture to be difficult to draw, plus my heart is not really in it at the moment as I am now well on with the next project. I may come back to this at a later date, but will definitely make sure to focus on this in future projects.

There was also a comment again about my self-evaluation comments. I have gone back and re-done all of these. They are probably still not ideal, but I will aim to be much more self-critical as I go forward.


A comment about removing the complicated tags in my blog where the reader has to click ‘continue reading’. It looks like this is a feature of the theme I am using and to modify this requires modifying the theme which I don’t think is possible on a WordPress site blog? I was planning to move my blog to my own website anyway, so I will try to do this and change this at that point. Already having work on the site makes me reluctant to change something which might break it. Perhaps this is why many people seem to set up a new blog for each course? I may end up doing this, but I am quite keen to keep it all together as a record of my progress throughout the whole course if possible. I will work on this area and see what I can do.

UPDATE – this is now done, removing the “Continue Reading” links and also ordering the blog in ascending rather than descending order so the assessors can just keep scrolling down the blog to view my entire work. Hopefully this will meet with their approval as I don’t think I have the strength to undertake another big review of my site!

Suggested reading

‘Bauhaus’ artists in relation to my assignment sculpture.

Kinetic art and think about the way sculptors use it to marry concepts with artistic process. In particular Naum Gabo, Alexander Calder, Jackson Pollock and 1960’s Op Art.

Op Art

I initially thought this was a spelling mistake, as I had never heard of it! Optical art makes use of optical illusions and I have to say, these don’t do it for me! They are more likely to send my eyes funny and are not something I plan to study in any great detail because of that! For me this falls under the category of art which I feel “why bother”! They seem to be mainly digital artists, or paintings/sculptures done which seem to express little feeling and be sterile in nature.

Of the artists I looks at Jesús Rafael Soto does seem to be an exception though, and I can appreciate his work more than the others, maybe because it is shifting more to kinetic art than Op Art? It is certainly more approachable and creates some great effects, despite the process being quite scientific / mathematical.

Kinetic Art

This is all about introducing the sense of movement either implied or actual into art.

Naum Gabo

I particularly like his face sculptures reduced to a number of planes, but his linear constructions are more relevant in relation to my assignment sculpture. The use of nylon threads to create three dimensional curved shapes by wrapping them around planes of plastic is very effective and provides a sense of movement in the piece.

He doesn’t seem to have produced much moving kinetic sculpture, but his fountain at Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospital in London looks particularly impressive.

Alexander Calder

He has much more of a sense of fun in his sculptures. I particularly like his ‘Brazilian Fish’ 1947, ‘Finny Fish’ 1948 and others on this theme. These have elements that move due to the disturbance of air around them, but he is particularly well known for his development of the mobile as a sculpture.

Jackson Pollock

I am aware Jackson Pollock paintings for the kind of looseness I can only dream of! Described as a kinetic painter, he uses unusual tools to produce his paintings and they often have a 3D and movement effect to them through the use of drips and splashes.


There are some fascinating artists here and it would be interesting to try to include some kinetic elements in one of my sculptures.

Photographing and filming

Although not commented on by my tutor, this was not very professional for my last assignment, so I thought I’d make more of an effort for this going forwards.

Key notes to carry forward:

  • Be bold and adventurous and not constrained by the brief
  • More rigorous development of a theme
  • Use drawing more to develop ideas, working large and in a fluid way (this is going to be the hardest area for me!)
  • Be intuitive about my making process without illustrating an idea
  • Don’t ‘design’ a sculpture
  • Show more insight in my learning log / self-assessments
  • try some kinetic art
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