Tutor report: Part 1

Student name Patricia Farrar Student number 422951
Course/Module Investigating Drawing Assignment number  

Overall Comments

This is a confident start to the course and you have worked through the Observational Drawing, Using Space and The Human Form projects very well. It is hard to fully respond to these projects because the images in your learning log are small and I think many of the issues I have raised in looking at your assignment work still apply to the results of these projects so I will concentrate on the work you have submitted for Assignment 1.

Feedback on assignment

The work you have sent shows a competent demonstration of technical and visual skills.

Drawing one which uses dead grasses and hydrangea plants tends to lack substance in terms of construction and composition and although you say that

“All the time I was thinking about leading the viewer into the image and I was using the splash of magenta to guide this. I built up the areas of grasses on the left, all the time going back and forth from right to left building up the balance and connection between the images.”

I do not feel that you have established a solid framing device (repoussoir) on the right or left of the composition to lead the eye to the magenta space. There is also nothing to look at in the magenta space. Study paintings such as Cezanne’s Lac d’Annecy or Montagne Sainte-Victoire, which effectively use the device of the repoussoir to lead the eye (often also using planar devices) to focal point(s).

If you had taken the grasses on the left of the image up to and along the top left of the frame you would have effectively forced your viewers eye towards the magenta space.

Your second drawing uses the source material in a more coherent way and there is a better marrying of the different elements of the grasses and hydrangeas because there is more substance in the drawing. However the composition is one directional leading the eye from left to right to the grasses and to the void created by the watercolour washes. This scanning tends to flatten the image.

The third drawing of tulips as a “ flower landscape” uses vivid reds and adjacent oranges, tissue paper collage, watercolour washes and a range of coloured oil pastels.

Collage was initially employed by the cubist artist’s and related movements to break up the picture plane and create ambiguous depth and space. In this case the collage has not done this and the vivid adjacent reds and oranges create no depth or layering. The image therefore remains rather flat, only the black oil pastel structure punctuates the image creating a jagged passage that helps to create some idea of movement. The snag here is the use of adjacent colour rather than employing complimentary highlights and tones to enhance depth and contrast.

The changing the Scale work in your blog demonstrates an interesting journey and has obviously opened up a lot of ideas for you. The final drawing however looks much more defined on your blog than on the actual drawing – a problem that is always inherent because the backlight from the computer distorts images and they either look better than they are or the reverse happens.

The actual image is interesting and could have been very successful if there were more contrasts in terms of tone and enhancement of form. The drawing is rather overworked so that the tonal contrasts and individuality of forms are lost.

Summary of points arising from this assignment:

I would like more emphasis given to the message in your drawings to your viewer concentrating not only on subject matter but also on context, construction, pictorial design, interpretation and impact.

Your questioning should center on some of the following concepts:

How have you designed your drawing and are you leading your spectator’s eye where you want it to go?

How have you framed your drawing and what framing or directional devices are you using?

Is the subject of your drawing important enough?

How do you include rhythm, dynamic direction, phrasing and focus in your drawing?

What are you doing with the edges of your drawing?

Is your drawing a contained image or part of something much larger?

Are you flattening space and making your viewer aware of the support, playing with it or even questioning the whole concept of why you have to apply rules?

Why are you using blank areas in your drawing?

Have you created an environment for your subject and how does it relate to the space around it?

If you are using colour in drawing are you using a range of tones within the colours to provide the idea of light on surface and contrast?

How do you employ colour to convey spatial variations including layering (the palimpsest), depth and contrast?

Does the colour you are applying have an emotional effect on your viewer or even a physical effect?


I think you need to be less descriptive in your approach to both your practical work and your evaluation. You need to apply more lateral thinking and give more credence to cognitive perception because there is a tendency in your work to rely on surface pattern, decorative mark making set against colour washes so that context (environment) is not referenced and therefore the outcomes, although often beguiling, lack substance. Composition can also become cluttered and complicated in parts of the drawing whilst other areas remain void. You are right in identifying your use of space as needing more analysis and I think you need to be more tuned into pictorial design in relation to the frame of the support.

Learning Logs and Sketchbooks

Your logbook and sketchbook is of a high standard and you have visited many exhibitions and studied a good range of artists from the continuum in art history to the contemporary. I do think however that your evaluation of artists and your own work is rather too descriptive. I think you should evaluate the works of others as well as your own. Look into works of art and analyze them to enhance your own understanding of your drawing. Just because an artist may be a great artist it does not mean that there are not weaknesses in their work. Every artist is never satisfied with their work – be a critic and do not be afraid to find faults or expound ideas that could strengthen your perception your own work.

Suggested reading/viewing

Have a go at reading Progress in Art by Suzi Gablik – Thames and Hudson. This is rather an old book and might be out of print (try Abe books .com) but it does not mean that it is not relevant. It should give you an insight into cognitive process and development.

Keep up the good work with attending exhibitions and studying artists and look at more expressive structural drawing/work for example by David Bomberg, Cy Twombly, Natalia Goncharova, Malevich, Soulages, Jeanette Barnes and Kate Atkin.



Tutor name: Richard Liley
Date 12/2/16
Next assignment due 12/4/16



Assessment Criteria


Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills Materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills.
Quality of Outcome Content, application of knowledge, presentation of working in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas.
Demonstration of Creativity Imagination, experimentation, intention, development of a personal voice.


Reflection, research, critical thinking





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.
This entry was posted in Research & Reflection, Tutor reports. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Tutor report: Part 1

  1. starrybird says:

    Thank you for sharing this, Patricia. I found Richard’s comments on composition very useful.


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