Monthly Archives: January 2014

Exercise – Tonal study

I decided to do this study at life drawing class and using Derwent XL Charcoal, a set of 6 coloured charcoals (white and black being 2 of the colours) which are in very big blocks.

I started out sketching in the rough outline to ensure the proportions were correct (which I got mostly right, but got the raised leg a bit in the wrong place). I then moved onto the XL charcoal.

XL Charcoal

I found this medium very difficult to control. It was very soft and I found that the majority of it ended up falling off the paper! This made it hard to get any deep tones and it also didn’t seem to blend in with the other colours very well. I persisted with it and the drawing looks OK, despite running out of time and not being able to add detail to the face and hands (something which wouldn’t have been easy anyway with the huge blocks of charcoal). I am not convinced by this medium and, whilst it may be worth further experimentation, I will leave it until after this course is finished as I am running out of time.

For my next attempt at the following life drawing class, I worked with Unison soft pastels and had much more success. I used a coloured sheet of about A0 size again, but only had enough time to work on the face.

Pastel fullPastel top

I struggled getting the tonal range with only 2 light brown and 1 dark brown pastels to play with, but I am pleased with the results and it does look like the model.

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Exercise – Using colour


My aim is to use colour throughout this entire stage, so all the work for this will fall under this exercise.

Included here is my first attempt at a pastel drawing:

A2 nude in pastel

This drawing was done over two life drawing evening classes and it shows as it is a drawing of 2 halves! The top left (head down to left arm) was done on one session, the rest of the body and background was done the next.

As my first pastel drawing I’m quite pleased with this, but it could be improved in many ways, the main one being completing the work in one session, or at least working on the whole body at the same time so a break is not so noticeable.

A couple of other pastel drawings, one where the proportions work, the other where they don’t!

P1010282 P1010283

A later pastel life drawing:

Pastel on green paper

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Exercise – Line drawing of the whole figure

I tried this on a pose from a drawing DVD. I made faint pencil marks to give me reference points, then drew it in gel pen. I made a few marks I went over with a white gel pen, but they still show through (on the arm and chest).

Line in gel pen

Apart from the mistakes, I think this worked well. Because of that I chickened out of adding in the facial features! I probably should have played around with disappearing lines as well, as the gel pens didn’t allow for variations in thickness.

This section is a bit Sparse, but my aim is to concentrate on tone more than line in this stage of the course.

Research point

Look at the work of a range of artists such as Ingres, David, Degas, Giacometti and Hockney and make notes about their use of line in your learning log.

Ingres, Jean Auguste Dominique (1780-1867)

Madame Ingres Mere (1758-1817) 1814 (graphite on paper)

Madeleine Chapelle (1782-1849) 1813 (pen & ink and w/c on paper)

The Forestier Family (graphite on paper) (b/w photo)

Self Portrait, 1835 (graphite on paper) (b/w photo)

Portrait of a Man, 1816 (print)

I like Igres’s free and simple use of line, with his use of light shading but only in small areas, leaving many areas plain white.

Degas, Edgar (1834-1917)

Portrait of Ludovic Halevy (1834-1908), from ‘La Famille Cardinal’ by Ludovic Halevy, c.1880s, published 1938 (litho)

Portrait of Diego Martelli, 1879 (chalk on paper)

Dancer (charcoal and pastel)


A Dancer in Profile (chalk)

Degas’s work is very expressive, with a limited palette when working with colour. He often seems to leave in working lines and keep working over them, which gives the figures a sense of movement

Trying a piece in the style of his dancers would be good to have a go at.

Hockney, David (b.1937)

Mark Glazebrook (using a camera lucida)

Dr. Leon Banks

Jeff Burkhart


My Hand

Self Portrait

Hockney often uses very simple lines, with detail in the faces, but the rest of the bodies left as mostly white with only their outlines, with the occasional crease and folds depicted as single lines.


Bridgeman Education:


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Exercise – Quick studies

For this exercise, I have included a mix of quick ink and brush sketches, conté sketches and quick studies from the start of my life drawing classes.

Ink and brush

In an aim to work freely and boldly, whilst also doing an ink drawing direct without doing the “safe” thing of drawing in pencil first. I worked with a brush rather than a pen to try to get the immediacy and boldness. Out of 10 sketches attempted, the four below are the most successful:

Line 1 Line 2 Line 3 Line 4


I tried a few portrait quick sketches using the edge of a piece of Conté pastel (yes, I know it’s not colour, but I was experimenting and only strayed briefly!):

P1010284 P1010285 P1010286

These sketches are more like caricature images and with the last two images, I have captured the old woman from Monty Python!

DVD sketches

I bought Bill Buchman’s DVD ‘Art is an Attitude’ and worked through his tutorials which were interesting.

Some of the better sketches from this are below (some not in colour again, but that was the only conté crayon I had!):

P1010310 P1010311 P1010312 P1010313 P1010314 P1010315 P1010316 P1010317

The course was designed to produce more abstract images of the figure and it certainly does that. I will try using some of these techniques when doing my quick sketches at the start of life drawing classes. Of the sketches, I think the ones which are particularly interesting are the ones with simple zigzag lines showing the angles of the parts of the body – this could be particularly interesting to try to translate into a sculpture.

Life drawing sketches

Quick poses from my life drawing classes:

P1010328pastel quick sketches on green

I quite like the effect of three drawings on top of each other, but it gets a bit confused with five.

Check and log

Think about and write up the challenges you met in doing these studies. Has your drawing improved since Part four?

  • I think the challenge is always in getting the proportions right without having enough time to measure and check what you are doing. I think my figure drawing is improving all the time as I get more confident and more used to believing my eyes!
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Signing up to the sculpture course was my hope at the start of my OCA journey, but it seemed dependant on having a workshop space to work in. Starting out doing drawing seemed like a good background study, and a house move opened up the opportunity of having a suitable workshop.

Whilst I am completing my drawing and printing courses, I am converting my garage into a workshop and also doing some sculpture related studies.

Stone carving

A 5 week evening class giving an introduction to stone carving resulted in the following:

Stone carving practice

My practice stone piece making a curved edge (hard work!) and practising some lettering (easier).

My letter piece:

Stone Carving

Probably only useful for me to create bases / plinths for sculpture as I am not likely to become an expert in this, but it was a good fun course.


I definitely want to try doing metal sculpture, so learning to weld seemed like an important skill to acquire. After questioning a sculptor whose work I admire (Darrell Evanes), I opted for MiG welding and completed a City and Guilds level 1 course in this.

My exciting final pieces!


I then got to play with TiG welding as well which was much neater and a more slow contemplative form of welding, although harder to get right.

It was a very process driven course, focussed on producing the five weld pieces shown in the image, but hopefully knowing how to weld correctly will help in my sculpture work.


Another 5 week evening class to give an introduction to this skill which was good fun.

My first three completed pieces:


More to come, but as I may use them as presents I’ll not put them on here yet!

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Stage 5 plan

Combining all these plans and ideas together gives:

General thoughts

  1. Work in colour throughout and achieve more depth to these images
  2. Try using stipples and dots to depict an image again
  3. Explore the use of bold bright colours
  4. Do more self portraits
  5. Use media that force you away from a dependence on line only, eg, brush and ink/water-colour wash, the side of a piece of charcoal or pastel
  6. Keep on exploring the use of charcoal and similar media, eg pastels (oil and soft), conte
  7. do an ink drawing direct in pen without doing the “safe” thing of drawing in pencil first

Specific ideas

  1. Self portraits:
    1. in the style of Rembrandt’s Self-portrait as a young man
    2. in the style of van Gogh’s, Self Portrait with Felt Hat
    3. As suggested by Betty Edwards book “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain”
    4. make studies of the individual features of the face – eyes, nose, mouth, etc.
  2. Drawings:
    1. In the style of Caio Locke’s pastel figure drawings
    2. use soft pastel on A2 paper and work lightly from within the pose using the side of the medium (this way you are forced to think in terms of tone rather than line). Continue to model and mould the forms as if you were using clay, at the same time darkening the tones in selected areas to render the forms. (See Seurat’s conte drawings)
    3. Using stipples and dots
    4. Using ink and brush + exploring more different media

I’ll also try to fit in the course exercises, although achieving all of this with only two months left on the course is maybe a touch optimistic.

Well, I’d better get cracking then!

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Assignment Choice

My final assignment and preparatory exercises will be from one of the following choices:

• Mark making and tone

• Observation of nature

• Drawing outdoors

• Drawing figures.

I am to be guided by my own interests, tastes and inclination in finding a subject and feel free to develop my own interpretation. Experiment, be bold and let my intuitive and emotional involvement in­fluence your approach to this final assignment.

Option 1 – mark making and tone

Looks like an interesting option. I could do with experimenting more with mark making techniques and this would be a good opportunity to do this. However, still life drawing doesn’t inspire me and led to me getting behind with my course so that I am now getting towards the 2 year cut off point, so I will pass on this one.

Option 2 – Observation of nature

Ditto to the comments made above re. still life drawing I think – again, I will pass on this one.

Option 3 – Drawing outdoors

This is the part of the course where I started enjoying the course more, but due to the weather / temperatures at this time of year, I would be restricted to drawing from photographs and would not be able to do justice to this stage through that, so again a pass.

Option 4 – Drawing figures

From the above, it may look like I am going for this option as a lack of any alternative, but drawing figures has been the most interesting and rewarding stage of the drawing course for me, so it was always going to be top of the list anyway.

If you look through my submission for assignment 4, you will also notice that I have some unfinished business in this area – the introduction of colour! It wasn’t a conscious decision to go monochrome in this stage, but that is what happened. I also don’t feel I have been very successful in my use of colour so far (perhaps why I avoided it in stage 4), so I would like to remedy that in this stage. I would particularly like to explore the use of bold bright colours.

From my research in stage 4, I would like to try drawings in the style of Rembrandt’s Self-portrait as a young man, c.1628 (pen, ink & wash on paper) , van Gogh’s, Self Portrait with Felt Hat, 1887-88 (oil on canvas) or Caio Locke’s pastel figure drawings.

Also, having now finished reading Betty Edwards book “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain”, I will practice some self-portraits in the way she suggests near the end of her book.

From my tutors’ comments on this assignment, I have also picked out the following to try:

  • To achieve a developed sense of form – use charcoal or soft pastel on A2 paper and work lightly from within the pose using the side of the medium (this way you are forced to think in terms of tone rather than line). Continue to model and mould the forms as if you were using clay, at the same time darkening the tones in selected areas to render the forms. (See Seurat’s conte drawings)
  • Use media that force you away from a dependence on line only, eg, brush and ink/water-colour wash, the side of a piece of charcoal or pastel.
  • Drawing the basic skeleton over photographs of the figure can be helpful – use magazine or newspaper images.
  • It is helpful to make a lot of studies of the individual features of the face – eyes, nose, mouth, etc.
  • Keep on exploring the use of charcoal and similar media, eg pastels (oil and soft), conte.
  • It would be interesting to do a similar study (line assignment drawing) direct in pen without doing the “safe” thing of drawing in pencil first.
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Stage 5 is my chance to consolidate what I have learned, refl­ect on exercises that I have especially enjoyed and to evaluate my progress. The starting point for this is to make a brief entry for each exercise and assignment undertaken so far detailing successes and problems that I have encountered.

Stage 1

Overall my mark making and texture experiments were perhaps a little unadventurous. At the start of the course, my early still life drawings were clearly not drawn in perspective as the tops of the jars/etc. show. When working in tone and form, I quite like my attempt at drawing a single ball, although the lines used would work better as long complete lines:

Tone 4

However, overall my tone drawing lacked much tonal range and my skills in using charcoal have come on since this stage.

My second assignment drawing was my best image from this stage:

Assignment 1b

Stage 2

Again, looking back I can see that my experiments with colour were not very adventurous also. My line drawings also lack variation in the thickness / use of line. I quite like my drawing of a branch, although it needs better hatching and more tonal variation on the left hand side of the branch:

Detailed Observation

Using stipples and dots to depict an image might be interesting to try again.

Overall, my work in colour is a lot more flat than my monochrome work. This colour image was my most successful one working through this stage:

Aubergine on a plate

My assignment piece was OK, but definitely lacks much depth to it or enough tonal range:

Assignment 2 04

Stage 3

Looking back my landscape sketches all seem to lack depth. I was quite pleased with the sketch below at the time, but it now lacks enough interest and variation for me:


Apart from my image of a single tree (below), my drawings of trees did not work very well.

Individual  Tree

My early perspective drawings were OK, but improved a lot up to my assignment piece which I am still pleased with, despite the lack of sufficient aerial perspective:


Stage 4

Drawing people really grabbed my interest and although a lot of my quick sketches were very crude and have a dependence on line, I produced some pleasing drawings when I had longer to spend on the subject. Attending life drawing classes also improved my work in this stage.


My self-portraits were average, this one being the best one:


And I also enjoyed this study of my hand:


I was pleased with both my assignment pieces for this stage, with the tone drawing being the much stronger image:

A4Line drawing penA4Tone drawing


I think my drawing skills have improved a lot through this course, and looking back it is pleasing to see how I have progressed. In terms of unfinished business/work going forwards, I have identified the following:

  • Try using stipples and dots to depict an image again.
  • My colour work needs a lot more depth
  • My self-portraits need work
  • Try more detailed studies
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Assignment 4 – Tutor Feedback

My tutors’ feedback from this stage is encouraging, but again focusses on some key areas of development:

  • Pushing myself
  • Using media that force me away from a dependence on line only
  • More risk taking

I think the key message to take forward to assignment 5 is the need to experiment more with media and techniques, and take more risks.

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Assignment 3 – Tutor Feedback

My tutor overall comments are that I need to produce more work so that I have a larger body to select from for assessment. He also encourages be to be adventurous in terms of both media and my use of them, taking more risks, experimentation with mark-making and using a variety of media individually and in combination. These are very interesting observations as they are similar to my printmaking tutors advice! I obviously need to work on this area.

On the assignment, he commented that the tones of the far background might be better lighter thereby enhancing the sense of receding space. Definitely something I agree with, but struggled with when doing the drawing as that was where the darker tones were in the deep shadows. I should have done some more preparatory sketches to get these tones right before committing to the final piece. He also commented that he would be interested to me doing a similar study in colour.

I submitted assignment 4 at the same time as assignment 3, so taking this advice forward will have to be done in stage 5.

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