Tutor Report : Part 2

Open College of the Arts
Tutor report


Student name Patricia Farrar Student number 422951
Course/Module Investigating Drawing Assignment number 2


Overall Comments

This Assignment demonstrates a more considered approach and I am pleased that you have responded to some of the points I raised in my last report concerning the message to your viewer and the compositional and structural elements within your work. You are beginning to question and contemplate ways of strengthening your approach to producing work.

However processes, techniques and picture making do seem to to direct your practice and your aims and thinking do not always seem apparent to the viewer. The test comes when you apply the principal of questioning intentions when you first encounter your work without reference to your blog or indeed the criteria of the assignment.

Does your viewer’s first encounter with your work for this Assignment really focus on what you assume they will interpret?

I will unpack some of the answers to this question in my assignment feedback.

Feedback on assignment

The work you have sent shows a competent demonstration of technical and visual skills. There is a competent, application of knowledge, and you are working in a coherent manner. Discernment and conceptualization of ideas are evident in your blog but not so competent within the assignment work. I am never terribly worried about developing a personal voice at this stage because this is something that grows when you get to the level three courses and never really sings out until later.

If we look at the first project: Space, depth and volume- Narcissus – contemplation of flatness and depth. You have obviously undertaken a great deal of research for this drawing starting with your drawings made at the V&A. The drawing itself is largely successful except for the fact that you have added ink lines for the figures looking at mobiles etc. that conflicts with the instructions for the exercise but I will choose to ignore this. I agree that you are now leading your viewer and I note what you say as follows:

“The eye pathway is designed to direct the viewer first to the figure standing outside the picture frame looking upwards at the statue. The contrasting flat ink grouping attracts the eye because of its contrast in method and shaping. The eye then is drawn back to the three-dimensional group and within this movement back and forth; there exists the element of decision-making or questioning.

I have balanced the three-dimensional two figure image on the right with the number of figures in the group on the left.”

However do you think there is a balance between the soft tonal figures on the right of the image and the harsh ink lined figures on the left and does the balance of space in the top left of the picture work?

Think about this in terms of traditional grids or how for instance Morandi used converging lines on the golden section to arrange his still lifes.

I would also direct you to look at the drawing on page 28 of the course book by Dennis Creffield whose series of cathedral drawings so beautifully describes aspects of space, depth and volume. Look also at the contrast of light and dark and the balanced composition. However there is also the concept of touch and Denis Creffield like Auerbach, was a pupil of David Bomberg. Bomberg was greatly influenced by the ideas expressed in Bishop Berkley’s Towards a New Theory of Vision (1709) and John Fothergill, editor of the Slade magazine who took up Berkley’s ideas and developed them in relation to the teaching of drawing. Berkeley proposed that there is no direct correlation between the sense data of vision and objects we know through touch. Visual appearances give ‘signs’ to the understanding of objects experienced by touch but are not co-extensive with them even though we effortlessly make the connection between an object seen and its tangible presence because it is natural to us.

Fothergill states as follows:

“All drawing of forms that merely reproduces the image on the retina, and leaves unconsulted the ideas of touch, is incomplete and primitive, because it does not express a conception of form which is the result of an association of the two senses.’

I am not for one minute suggesting that your drawing is incomplete and primitive but merely that the reason you like the Seurat drawings so much is because he is using the two senses through the tooth of the paper and through varying touch. Your drawing has not varied touch sufficiently so that the tone is similar throughout except for the putty rubber marks on the back of the main figure. Look at the charcoal drawings of Creffield and Bomberg in particular and see the dynamic contrasts of tone within their work.

I think the Mark Making Materials project worked quite well at the preliminary stage of the work and the inks appear to be quite effective. I do however question the choice of media and why you chose watercolour for the final piece. The vehicle for watercolour is usually water and you have applied traditional washes as a background then applied the watercolour pigment as a ‘paste’ with the twigs whilst the paper is wet so it scratches the paper in contrast to the burnt sienna ‘paste ‘ . The composition works well but the image does not have enough variation and appears as rather flat stained marks. I wonder if you could have swapped the traditional method of background wash and overlay and employed methods of taking out. You could have considered using ‘shuimo’ or ‘shanshui’ (older term) methods as employed by modern Chinese painters such as Fu Baoshi and usually used with ink painting. Shanshui has also been employed by contemporary artists such as Ai Weiwei as a tribute to Fu Baoshi who was subversive during the Maoist regime . This would involve employing a thick ground of watercolour such as the pigment you have used and drawing with the twigs dipped in water therefore creating a negative drawing with the water.

The three Narrative drawings have worked quite well and the background work you have done leading up to these drawings demonstrates Imagination, experimentation and intention.

Looking firstly at the shoes without reference to the blog it is difficult to see the narrative in the two drawings because there is little indication to the viewer of the scale of the shoes. We have no context to compare the shoes against. If you had juxtaposed them against a chair leg or even against an adult foot (or indeed used the composition of your blog photograph) – then we would have had the evidence to establish the narrative. Your viewer could even believe that these were boots not baby shoes – you do say in your blog “It was remarkably difficult to achieve the ‘baby quality’ of the boots, mainly evident in the short stubby toes”.

I think the evidence that does work particularly in the charcoal and ink drawing is the charm of the use of ink line against the tone. However light direction and tonal variation is not convincing and the lack of immediate shadow (not cast shadow) under the shoes tends to give the idea that they are floating above the surface of the table.

When you look at the photograph of your daughter’s scarf you can see that the object has real potential in terms of it’s organic , sculptural qualities. I think that your choice of using a soft medium and the lack of context (which is apparent in the photograph) has not realized the potential of this object and the narrative does not really work.

Summary of points arising from this assignment:

  • Think about the best way of achieving your objective through the right choice of media
  • I would like more consideration given to the context and balance of space in your drawings
  • Some of your drawings lack variations in touch and tone – explore this.
  • I think the design element of your drawing needs to be expanded and you could consider more abstract approaches.

Learning Logs and Sketchbooks

I am pleased with your approach to you blog, your experimentation and your extensive research. Your sketchbooks are thorough and you are working through and refining your ideas.

 Suggested reading/viewing

Explore the work of Fu Baoshi and find out about the work of Dan Namingha and indigenous Modernism.


Tutor name: Richard Liley
Date 26/04/16
Next assignment due 30/06/16



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.
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