Monthly Archives: February 2014

Assignment 5 – Tutor Feedback

My tutor’s overall comments on this stage were:

You have progressed well and are gaining the confidence to be bolder, more experimental and willing to take risks. All that is good – keep it going as you move on into another course.

He provided some useful tips on moving from 2D to 3D which I will try out.

On the assignment piece:

I think this is a strong and confident piece of work which compels the spectator to engage with the subject. I like the way the more flowing rhythms of the figure are set against the geometry of the background photographs. I like the fact that these also carry personal meaning in terms of your transition from photography to drawing.  I agree with your assessment ref tonal values – stronger tonal contrasts in the portrait would bring it forward out of the background and enhance the depth of the image as well. Other areas needing attention – the head and neck do not sit comfortably on the shoulders and the dark shadow inside the collar gives a detached feel to the neck which should be visible as it goes into the shadow of the collar. The shoulder and arm partially hidden by the easel are flat, lacking the volume of the opposite shoulder.  Could you have given a little more depth and richness to the texture of the jacket by more overlays of pastel? Further studies of the structure of facial features will add conviction to future portrait work, as would some studies of flesh tones. These criticisms do not detract from what I think is a successful culmination to your course.

After a lot of hard work, this is a pleasing outcome to my first level 1 course. No time to waste though, it’s on with my printmaking!

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Project 9 Experimental mark making on lino


I decided that rather than divide a block up into separate squares, I would cut out squares of lino/etc and create a frame to place them into for printing. Despite the title of this project, I also wanted to try out a number of different materials, so this is what I started out with:


Working left to right from top row to bottom row, I had:

  1. Rhenalon plate, glues onto cardboard
  2. Left over flooring lino
  3. Easy cut lino blocks (ones which I have been using so far)
  4. Asian plywood
  5. Harder lino blocks
  6. Funky foam stuck onto cardboard

And a frame for printing them (floor lino strips):



Tools used to make marks:

  • Abig Etching Needles
  • Pyrographer
  • Bread knife
  • Saw
  • Hole punch
  • Rasp
  • Screws
  • Fork
  • Car hair brush
  • Cookie cutter
  • Pliers
  • Wire wool
  • Staple remover
  • Lemon zester
  • Chicken wire


First of all, I tried different tools on individual squares and then printed 9 of them in the frame I had made:


This wasn’t as successful as I had hoped, the small blocks were difficult to ink well as they got picked up by the ink roller and the blocks were different heights which didn’t make it easy to get a print off from them (I’d also made one of the block holders too small which didn’t help!).

The ones which didn’t work were the wire wool, rasp, screws on harder lino, pliers and the staple remover. Comments on the ones which did work are further down this post.

I tried 4 blocks of the funky foam together:


But this would probably work better creating a grid on one piece.

I then decided to print the small blocks separately:




The lino type tool was a sharper version of what I had been using on lino, and would allow similar marks to be made on wood.

The breadknife gave very rough and random markings which could be used to represent an old/damaged photograph, a rain streaked window, or just give a pattern as a basis of a print?

The pyrographer allows you to create more rounded lines which could be useful for more organic based prints.


Whilst the wood seems to work quite well in producing prints, it didn’t seem to clean up afterwards – although given that many printmakers have used woodcuts, maybe that was just me?



The screws didn’t leave much of an impact on the lino.

I rolled the chicken wire into the lino using a metal rolling mill. This is small so wouldn’t allow a very big piece of lino to be used, but I think the effect works really well and could be used with many different items. The chicken wire used here could be used to represent what it is (could have a chicken print behind it!), or any kind of fence / cage.

The lemon zester gave five parallel lines which could be used to represent ploughed fields, or a mesh, or just a random textured base?


I used the saw on a larger piece of lino to stop me from damaging myself. It gives a nice random effect in the way I have applied it – reminiscent of tree bark in places?

Funky Foam


The cookie cutter gave a very crisp outline. This one is restricted to an image of a sheep, but there are plenty of different cutters available in many different shapes.

Only one layer of the brush really gave am impression here, and any printing from this would be restricted to the edge of the plate. Pressing the end in to give a line of dots may be more useful, but there are probably better ways of getting this effect.

Screws worked better on this than on the lino, but may have limited use.

The sweet corn fork gave nice strong lines, useful for any print which needs two parallel lines.


The fork worked well, leaving a bigger blob where the initial depression was – these look almost like comets (it they travelled in fours!). Maybe more like rain streaks?

The bread knife gave a nice hazy set of parallel lines. I can’t think of a particular thing these could represent, but they would work well as a background.

I tried a print from the shiny side of a piece of floor lino (without any cuts) which gave a very nice texture – maybe one to save for the next stage.


Funky foam took on impressions really easily, and gave a smooth even print. However, the ink didn’t seem to come off the foam afterwards, so it may only be suitable for one off use?

Rhenalon plate


I used Abig etching needles to make the marks on the top three plates here. The marks are all pretty unspectacular, but the effect I love is where the ink has produced small dots between the lines – possibly from grease on the plastic? I will tinker with deliberately applied grease and see what happens!

The hole punched plate didn’t work very well.

Experimentation continued

I didn’t seem to have much to submit for this project after the first experiments, so went back with the tools which seemed to work and added a few more:

  • Screwdriver hammered in
  • File hammered in
  • Countersink hammered in
  • Various screwdriver bits hammered in
  • Various cookie cutters
  • Thin knitting needle
  • Power hacksaw
  • Rasp

I produced marks on lino, funky foam and Rhenalon plate.

Rhenalon plate


This was a disappointment as I didn’t get those lovely marks I got using the small squares. The uneven ink was due to using a roller too small for the plate.

Funky foam


This also suffered from uneven ink distribution due to the roller being too small and it was also difficult to ink well as I hadn’t stuck it to cardboard this time and it kept trying to stick to the ink roller. The cookie cutters and the squiggle lines from the thin knitting needle worked best here.



This was more like it. The marks all worked well on this and the two colours merging together made a nice print.

P1010418 with areas

The saw (1) gives some nice random lines.

The screwdriver bits (3) and countersink (2) made very good stars and large dots which would be good to represent stars, or more abstract texture markings.

The knitting needle (4) made nice smooth curved lines and the end pressed in made neat little dots, which will have plenty of uses.

The files (5) were a bit too brutal and didn’t give any new mark which couldn’t be made with more control with other tools.

The power saw (7) gave some very nice markings, but was very difficult to control. Therefore it is probably best for abstract texture and the best use of it would probably be to mark up a whole sheet and then cut out the shape required from it.

The marks from the rasp (8) were lighter than the saw and only partially showed up, but create a more subtle textured effect.

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Assignment 5 – Reflection

I managed to cover most of my aims for this stage of the course and have ended up with an assignment drawing I am very pleased with.

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills

Materials: I tried out a lot of new materials during this stage and experimented more. Pastels were the medium I used most of and enjoyed, so it made sense to carry on using these into the assignment piece. Working with a coloured background worked well for me in the drawings through this stage so I carried on with that also.

Techniques: I have used a mixture of straight pastel marks and blending the pastel into the background and other colours using my finger / a tissue.

Observational skills: I think I have got the proportions pretty spot on with this drawing and it certainly looks like me.

Visual awareness: I think I have captured the tonal range quite well in this image, and the colours in the face and body.

Design and compositional skills: I like the composition I have ended up with, both in the placing of the elements, and the meaning it has for me.

Quality of Outcome

Content: I think the white of the picture mounts in the background could be worked better to give a denser colour, the boulder photograph in the background could be better depicted, the shadow around the eye is a bit too dark (and from a distance resembles a black eye!), and the right ear is a bit too pink. Overall though I am very happy with this image.

Application of knowledge: I set out to produce a figure drawing in colour and put what I had learnt in my experiments into practice in producing this image.

Presentation of work in a coherent manner: This blog is the record of my work, with my accompanying sketchbook.

Discernment: I think the composition, choice of materials and application of them works well.

Conceptualisation of thoughts: The thinking in this image was around the composition, both in how to simplify the background and give the picture meaning for me – showing me working on a drawing and moving away from just photography as shown by the prints in the background. A greater tonal range was reserved for the figure to make it stand out against a lighter, more even toned background.

Communication of ideas: I think this drawing communicates the idea I had in mind.

Demonstration of Creativity

Imagination: I have produced an image with strong composition, placed the various elements well within the frame and I think used my imagination well.

Experimentation: This is evidenced in the work throughout this stage and my experimentation with pastels evident in my final drawing.

Invention: I worked on the pastel in a number of ways, blending colours with my fingers / tissue, overlaying colours to get the result I was looking for.

Development of a personal voice: I am getting more and more confident in my drawing and as some of my images look like they were done by the same person, I must be developing a style.


Reflection: Overall I am please with the drawing. Some elements could be improved, but possibly not now without overworking the image, so I think I have stopped work on it at about the right time. I also think I have made the right decisions in composition, materials and techniques for what I was planning to achieve.

Research: Most of my research has been done whilst experimenting with techniques and materials through this stage of the course.

Critical thinking (learning log): This post and the others through this stage of the course covers this.

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I thought it would be interesting to note down my current feelings on “art”, to see how they change over the length of this course.

My definition of “art” – a man made object which elicits an emotional response.

In my opinion, art seems to fall into two/four categories:

  1. Beautiful
  2. Meaningful
  3. Both
  4. Neither

I view a lot of modern art as being complete rubbish (category 4) – that may well be from a lack of understanding, but it will be interesting to see how my opinion of it changes! What I enjoy about art is those objects which I feel fall into categories 1 and 3, and my worry is that in studying it too much will lead me to producing objects which fall into category 2 (which other people will then view as category 4)! What I hope, is that I will produce work in category 3 – work which can be viewed simply as a beautiful object, but which has some meaning (if only to me).

Only time will tell…..

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Assignment 5 – Option 4

The course notes say to review all of the figure studies that you have completed so far for both Parts 4 and 5, think about the progress that you have made and notice the techniques that were the most successful.

I am going to reduce this to reviewing just the colour studies, so part 5 only as that was my aim to look at going into this stage. Through this stage I have tried out some different media, but have mainly worked with pastel. Therefore it makes sense to continue this into the assignment rather than move onto a new medium.

A2 nude in pastelA1 PastelPastel SPP1010282P1010283

My early pastel drawings and quick sketches are not great, but were good introductions to the media.

Self in pastelsPastel topPastel on green paper

My later and more considered drawings were better, with the drawing of a man on green paper being my favourite to date. However, it is not bold and adventurous! Therefore, I think I need to go more down the lines of my pastel self portrait where I used bold colours. I like working with this medium though and have got more confident with it as I have gone used it more.

I did consider trying to add paint splashes, or some other media, but decided to stay with what I know, but try to be bold in my colour choice – how it goes remains to be seen!

The use of coloured paper with the pastels seems to work well, so I will continue with that, although I will use a fairly neutral colour as it doesn’t always work (such as my self-portrait with framing guide).

So, the subject. Although I am going to life drawing class, we don’t often do two week sketches due to the availability of models, and I want to have enough time to complete a drawing I am happy to submit for the assignment. Therefore, it’s either myself or my wife. Although drawing my wife is easiest in terms of measuring (which I find hard to do for a self portrait), my availability is easier, plus my stage 4 drawings were all of my wife, so I should go for something different this time.

Background – I think I will try to include some other elements in the drawing as well as myself, but will have to experiment with what might work.

Compositional sketches:

A5 Sketch 1

I initially was thinking in portrait format, but the drawing board dominated in that format, so I switched to landscape format.

A5 Sketch 2 A5 Sketch 3 A5 Sketch 4

I decided to include the photographs in the background as this fine art course marks my movement from photography into other art forms, so I positioned myself so they worked best in the background and excluded anything else which might distract the attention.

I placed a light to the right hand side of me to shine light onto one side of me, with the ceiling light on also, drawing the curtains to ensure natural light did not feature much, to ensure the light levels and direction stayed constant throughout my drawing.

A5 setup

A5 drawing

Had I gone bold and adventurous? Not really! I had played it safe and got the colours as close as possible to real life. I intended to do that initially and then go in with the bold colours, but then I liked the drawing as it was, so decided to stop. What I couldn’t decide was whether there is enough tonal range in the figure drawing or not? After mulling it over and discussing with a few others on the fine art Facebook group (2 out of 3 agreed), I decided to go back and add some darker tones to the image.

A5 final

I may have gone in too dark around the eye (although it was the darkest area of my face), but overall the increase shadows have helped. I didn’t go in with the more bold blues/greens/purples but I didn’t want to ruin a picture I liked and I am pleased with the outcome.

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Exercise – Self Portraits

A couple of small self-portraits to start with. The first in pastel trying to use bold and bright colours:

Pastel SP

My measurement is out on this drawing with my nose and right eye being the most “out”. However, I enjoyed using the bold bright colours and I am pleased with the resulting image. The use of a coloured sugar paper for the background also worked well with this medium.

For the next image, I started out with a watered down black acrylic ink to get the basic shapes in, then added fibre pen colours mostly in the shadow areas, then added some extra colour using pastels over the top of these areas:

Ink Pen Pastel SP

I’m pleased with this image also and hope to continue to experiment further with different mixtures of coloured media.

Next I moved onto a larger image, working on A0 paper this time. I chose a green paper to try this out on which is too green as it gives the whole image a green cast, but you live and learn! In holding up a plastic frame, I thought it might be interesting to include this frame in my image:

A1 Pastel

The frame may have added interest, but in cutting up my face, it made it difficult to get the proportions and colour consistency across the parts. It also was not a good position to hold for comfort, and in holding up the frame with my drawing hand, I had to remember its position, then put down the frame to draw it in, this has resulted in a right hand which doesn’t look right. I think I was being a bit too adventurous too early on!

Going for A1 cream pastel paper next, I decided to do a head and shoulders only self-portrait. I sketched in the outlines with a white pastel/chalk(?) and then went into pastel:

Self in pastels

I think the eyes are too large, my right ear is too large and my left one not the right shape at the bottom. Some of the colours aren’t what I wanted either, but I had a restricted palette of pastels to work with. I think I’m getting closer to a representation of myself with each attempt though which is good!

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Exercise – Body part studies

Sketches of my eye and nose using various media:

Eyes Noses

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