REFLECTION: PART 1 – project 1


As I reflect on the first project in the course I am aware that I’m looking for something extra during the coming months. I feel that in the other four courses I have ticked the boxes – that is to say, to the best of my ability I’ve carried through the assignment requirements and learnt a lot on the way, both in terms of skills and about myself. However I’m at the point where I want something more from the course. Rather than ticking the boxes I want to approach each module from the point of view of what can I learn about my own practice in completing this work. I have no doubt that there will be space within the course outline which will allow this or perhaps this may lead to me failing to tick the boxes…just have to deal with that!


Project 1 – Observational drawing

‘Exploring composition’ fits so well with my practice at this stage and I want to use these exercises to really understand the essential elements of composition within the picture plane. It seems to me to be a very complex subject and one which up to now I’ve not really got to grips with.

‘Composition is the relationship you set up between all the elements in your artwork.’ (Page 17 OCA course outline Drawing 2)

In this first project focusing on observational drawing, it was interesting to see how changes happened as the initial idea is ‘nudged’ into different ways of looking. In the different studies I played with ideas which came, sometimes driven by using different media, sometimes driven by simple creativity. Experimenting with different media helps this process along as the different tools that can be used necessarily will result in different outcomes because of the nature of the implements. I enjoyed the difference in the outcome of using first charcoal and then pen and ink for example.

However, in analysing the sentence above which describes what composition is, the phrase ‘all the elements’ needs to be pulled apart. What are all the elements? The picture plane? The initial image? The medium used? Up to now, these have been the elements forefront in my thought when I begin to work. But taking this further, are there other elements, especially when one considers that part of the task is to lead the viewer’s eye into and around the composition?

So, to add to the above list, I need to ask myself what holds my interest when I look at a painting, capturing and holding the viewer’s eye so that one never grows tired of looking? What does that? I’m guessing that it’s a number of things… and I suppose it may be different things for different people. Ideas that come to me on this: colour, tone , texture; arrangement of forms over the surface; the relationship of form and colour; balance? I can see that all of these elements are important and can result in a satisfying composition. However I suspect that there is more…

Looking back to the aim of this project, which is to reflect on the wider potential of observational drawing, I feel that my studies have done that. I’ve taken the original image and worked with it. So many ideas and possibilities have flowed from that and I’m sure there are still more to come. It has been a creative process and probably the end result shows that, despite the elements of the original image still being evident. However, there are so many more avenues to explore with this – I wonder if you ever come to the end. It is surprising how much can come from just one image!

So what do I take away from this exercise? Not to stay with simply representing the image which is in front of the eyes. Work with it, stretch it, destroy it and let it reveal what it has to say.


About pbfarrar

I am an Australian living permanently in England. I have recently retired from the position of Principal of an independent school and have taken up the study of Fine Art with the OCA.
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