Final formative feedback

Rather a poignant post as I’ve had my last tutor report from the wonderful Emma:


And as usual she has been spot on with her observations.

Tone: Keith Vaughan interested me and I also follow a chap called Lancelot Richardson on Instagram who does fabulous tonal work on his short pose life drawings (@lancelotrichardson). Part of the problem is that I like quite abstracted tone in the art I want to look at so perhaps trying to pursue a look which doesn’t really appeal I should stick to what I enjoy and have a go at some different techniques. I will try the masking that Emma suggests and see how that goes.

Another note from the feedback is that the exercises I’ve done are divorced from my own practice. I think this is a confidence issue; I forget that I have sufficient experience to adapt the exercises to my own needs rather than being so prescriptive and following the text to the lette. I like the idea of building a network of skills as I go along: so rather than progressing in a linear manner, to revisit and be mindful of what I enjoy and what I feel confident rather than departing completely and doing something which feels a bit abnormal and unnatural. There is a balance between experimentation and staying in one’s comfort zone which I am hoping will develop as I continue my studies. On that note, I have enrolled on to Drawing 1: Drawing Skills and my learning log for that can be found at so do join me there.

My most recent trip to life drawing was great and Thomas modelled – he’s so nice to draw even though I got a bit stuck on the last pose!


My final thoughts about Foundations Drawing are that it’s introduced an entire new world and set of challenges which has brought me on from the rudimentary basis when I started just over a year ago. The feedback from my tutor and other students has been tremendously helpful and the support and interest in what I’ve been doing has been really gratifying.

What I want to take from the course is a sense of momentum for the work I’ve done thus far and build on it to develop my set of skills. I’m aware I need to increase my knowledge and ability to contextualise the art I see (and do) effectively. Finding the time to explore techniques and media to the required extent is going to be my main issue but I will find a way to make it happen…



Life drawing: Ed and Floria

I went for the 3 hour life drawing session on Monday – the first hour is short poses and then the 2 hours are split between short to medium poses, ending with a 40 minute one. It’s a bit of a slog but it’s great to have a chance to get engrossed.

Ed was our model for the first session. I’ve not drawn him before but he kept some great poses and was nice and angular. The following are all on A3 with a 4B graphite stick:



For the longer session we had Floria to model for us – she’s a gymnast and a couple of her 30 second poses involved handstands! She’s tiny but muscular so was very interesting to draw:


I’m trying to tackle heads rather than prioritising feet and I feel I should be more experimental instead of always using my go-to Derwent drawing pencils, but part of lifedrawing is a chance to relax and enjoy myself so I’m a bit torn about presenting myself with too much of a challenge. I’ve not tried charcoal yet which is odd given how much I like it, and it’s quite a forgiving medium and a lot of people use it for figure work so perhaps I’ll give that a go…





Wolfgang Tillmans & David Hockney

Sunday saw the opportunity for a visit to both Tates, hurrah!

I started at Tate Modern with a quick whizz around Wolfgang Tillmans and his exhibition of contemporary photographs. I’m no connoisseur when it comes to photography so I was curious to see what I thought of the display.

According to the blurb, it is not a retrospective; more a selection of the artist’s personal responses. It did feel more like a tour through this studio than the classic exhibition – there was no information apart from the names of the photographs and that which was in the accompanying booklet.

I enjoyed the scale of the photographs: some were 4 metres tall and the pin-sharp clarity was an impressive sight. Large photos of ordinary people made for interesting viewing as a lack of photoshop or digital enhancement meant flaws were visible and yet usually on a billboard-sized image, there is only perfection. Some of the photos were mounted in frames, others just taped to the wall, and many were stretched out between bulldog clips. This draws attention to the photograph as an object in itself rather than purely a vehicle for the rendition of an image. I liked this as I’m rather fond of paper (!) and like it when an artist uses really lovely deckle edged, mould pressed paper so it’s good to get that ‘added value’ from a photograph, and not something I had considered before.

On to Tate Britain and David Hockney:

I wouldn’t say I was a tremendous fan of Hockney’s work but I was really keen to see his exhibition. It was very busy so difficult to spend much time pondering. I liked his landscapes, and found his use of masking tape intriguing – especially as there was a lack of perfection in the application of the paint despite the crisp demarcation line formed by the tape, especially on his lawn-sprinkling paintings.

The precipitous slopes and curves in the roads of the more abstract landscape pieces were more appealing to me than the pastoral ones as they had a greater sense of energy. I loved his charcoal, ink and pencil drawings – the naivety of some of the elements in his paintings is a clever distraction as his drawings are phenomenal.

Both exhibitions are worth another visit so I will be going back!


My daughter’s rabbit, Willow, has been on her own since her mate passed away in the summer, and in the autumn I decided to bring her in to live in the lounge (the rabbit, not my daughter!). It’s been hugely entertaining – apart from the number of Apple cables we’ve found chewed through – and having never drawn a bunny, she’s proven to be an interesting subject.

I started with regular pencil sketches:

A4 cartridge paper, 2B pencil

And then moved on to gesture sketches as she was grooming:

A4 cartridge paper, 4B graphite stick

I like being able to draw her fast and loosely, like I do with the hens. I’m still not managing to use tone rather than line…will I ever get the feel for it??

Willow’s ears are so expressive and charming, and her Dutch colouring makes her easy to divide up and draw. She is very relaxed and sits still in the beams of sunshine as they cross the lounge so has been an excellent model.

A4 cartridge paper, 2B pencil, sepia brushpen

These have been good practise but I also wanted to experiment once I’d got the the basic shape. I like this pen and ink one:

A4 cartridge paper, pheasant quill pen, red ink

I love the random and scratchy aspect of a home made quill pen and I really liked this picture.

I tend to always work on A4 and do similar-sized drawings when I am sketching so I am trying to remember to vary my scale of working. I really like graphite putty but it’s a large scale thing as it’s not got a lot of finesse (not in my hands anyway) so I thought I’d have a go at a bunny picture on A2. The putty looked really flat on the page so I added some graphite stick, and then some black pen. Then some grey pen. Then some water to activate the putty and the pen. It all got a bit chaotic but I like the energy of it and it reflected the sort of day I’d had!!


It was a lot of fun but didn’t take very long, sadly. I think I need to use a much bigger piece of paper to explore the putty’s potential to the full.






*Hashtag borrowed from Instagram pal*

This week at Soho Life Drawing we had Kate, a great model who I found really enjoyable to draw. I found it difficult to complete the drawings in the time frame which is strange for me – normally I’m finished and doodling feet until the time is up. I still find women much less easy to draw but I’ve been using a technique I was taught at a previous class: put in the central line and work from that. I am endeavouring to get away from my instinct to put in outlines all the time and this has helped. So, I put in the spine or sternum-to-belly-button line and then it makes it easier to see proportions either side of that.

Here are my drawings, ranging from 30 second to 40 minutes:


The last (40 minute) pose was going well but I could not get the left arm/shoulder/neck right where her arm crooked up and behind her head. I looked at it repeatedly but whichever bit I altered, it still looked wrong. I had some more goes:


I don’t think any of them are quite right! I kept looking and drawing and trying to focus on shapes not the fact it is an arm but I couldn’t get it. Apart from that minor hiccup, I feel I am getting more confident and my enjoyment is increasing every time I go as it’s great to get feedback and see the other drawings.




Olafur Eliasson

I was recommended to look at this artist’s work by my tutor in my last assessment feedback to get an idea of how a contemporary artist works.

Olafur Eliasson was born in 1967 in Copenhagen to Icelandic parents. His art career started when he moved to Cologne in 1993 and he began exhibiting his own work. In 2003, The Weather Project installation at Tate Modern saw a large disc suspended at one end of the Turbine Hall, backlit by 200 yellow mono-frequency lights. These give a similar light to street lamps and the artist has used this lighting in other installations. His interest in the environment, sustainability and natural resources – particularly water – are recurring themes and his most recent installation at Versailles includes a waterfall; he constructed four of these man-made natural features in New York in 2008.

I’ve not heard of him but I watched these 3 short videos about how he operates and his installations at Versailles. I love his integrated approach and his interpretations of the natural world in artistic form. I’m always intrigued at how art can be used to convey an environmental message or draw attention to natural beauty and wonder, and seeing his four floors of workspace and his approach to ideas generation, construction and completion of his artwork has been really interesting.

Eliasson’s use of mirrors is fascinating, and the Versailles installations remind me of the mirror box at Tate Modern (“The Passing Winter, Yayoi Kusama 2005) and how it relishes in the deceptive simplicity of a mirror with a void. I think we are all drawn to a reflective surface and the altered reality it can bring through distortion.

I think these are beautiful:

Solar Compression

Deep Mirror (Black)

Versailles Waterfall

Meteorological Circles

Olafur Eliasson is a name I shall definitely be keeping an eye out for and I look forward to exploring more of his work.



OCA Study Day – Tate Modern

This day was a chance to go around the Robert Rauschenberg exhibition at Tate Modern with tutor Gerald Deslandes. The dozen or so of us students met up with him and introduced ourselves, then went on in to the exhibtion. These days are so valuable as it’s fantastic to go round with other students and a knowledgeable and friendly guide!

The most impressive aspect of Rauschenberg for me is his diversity and energy. The combines, the transfer drawings and the Mud Muse were the best bits.  Monogram is one of his most well-known combines. What I found intriguing about Monogram is that its current incarnation is its third; Rauschenberg wasn’t content with how the piece looked so took it through three stages – of which this final one is how he felt it was meant to be. This contrasts with some of his other combines which were constructed live on stage in front of an audience. That art can be spontaneous through to meticulously recreated and the overriding aim is to get something the artist feels is “right” was worth noting for me as I feel that developing that personal nuance about what I do is something important.

After lunch, we returned to the Switch House to look round the permanent galleries. I’ve not been round all of them, and not had the chance to be accompanied by fellow students to discuss the pieces on show. Gerald made pertinent comments and his knowledge really helped us to explore the concepts and look at the art thoroughly. I found it a really valuable and enjoyable experience.

One installation we stopped at was A Solemn Process by Romanian artist Ana Lupas. I liked this on first sight as the combination of warm, golden, sepia tones juxtaposed with graphite-coloured metal really appealed! The large vinyl panels on the walls portrayed pictures of rural workers making wreaths and woven structures from straw. Soft, tactile and warm, these photos contrasted sharply with the hard metallic structures, although they were clearly related as the shapes of the ‘wheat-wreath tins’ mirrored those depicted on the walls.



At the time, we just looked at it and discussed what we were seeing but on further investigation, there is a lot more to the piece (as is inevitably the case and what I love about modern art).

This collaborative project with rural Transylvanian villagers, the huge wreaths were constructed using traditional techniques and then displayed and photographed. The idea was for this to be the art work, and for it to be carried forward and expanded into the future. However, the social and economic situation in Romania in the 1970’s meant the villagers couldn’t prioritise this activity and the pieces started to deteriorate.

Ana Lupas attempted to restore the structures but realised this didn’t embody the original concept of the project – that of the “infinite dimension” as the installation grew and developed – and decided to draw them instead. This second phase was superseded by the idea of sealing the wreaths in traditional metalwork containers.  Local craftsmen constructed them and thus the straw could be preserved for ever, and this is the display we see at Tate Modern.

As with Rauschenberg’s Monogram combine, I like the idea of art being a dynamic and evolving process and having to develop and change as time and circumstances and artistic aims alter.

I have come to the end of my Foundation Drawing course and this was a brilliant way to finish this stage and move on to thinking about my next courses.