Assignment 1 tutor feedback

I’d forgotten how containing feedback can be, especially when the subject matter and structure are unfamiliar, so this was very welcome and encouraging, and also gave me direction that I hadn’t managed to extract from the course materials.

Frankly, having underlined almost the entire feedback document, I’m struggling with what to extract and respond to. It’s all relevant and I have to say, the pointers you’ve given – artists Paula Rego, Anita Taylor, William Kentridge, and the body of work cast as Symbolism – could hardly be more up my street, I’ve been totally nailed at the first encounter!

Then there’s John Berger – I didn’t have the book so thank you and I do now, the kindle version, but I had watched his series ‘Ways of Seeing’ on YouTube and been very impressed at his dissection of the role of female models in art. These things matter to me because power balances matter, and the predominately male gaze and where it falls matters. I’m very much onside with Berger.

Thank you also for the Anthony Gormley quote:

Drawing is a tool in the contemporary artist’s toolbox and as such it is flexible, analytical and progressive, as Anthony Gormley said “…drawing is analytical but it is expressive in its own right, it has a duty to bear witness, not simply by making a representation of something, but taking things apart and reassembling in a way that makes new connections. It is entirely experimental”.

I recall seeing Gormley in a programme about virtual reality (Royal Academy: painting the future, Sky Arts 2018) as a tool for artists, along with a number of other artists including David Hockney. I’ve been impressed by his work, albeit mostly his own body from what I’ve seen, and that quote feels completely liberating. It resonates wonderfully with Stephen King’s advice to writers, ‘Good writing is often about letting go of fear and affectation’,

and yours to me:

The handbook is only the starting point and you are wholly encouraged to allow yourself to enthusiastically push ahead through extending what is required of you.

Explore more, develop ways forwards in your sketchbook, this is critical to your advancement. Pay attention to the tonal values within your work, you can afford to be more rigorous with the tonal scale. Draw what you see, practice the mark making with differing media and scale.

Push further, be bold and use the media rather than letting the media use you. You have a good ‘gut instinct’ but need confidence to follow it through. [Thank you.]

Experiment more and keep up the impetus.

It’s an odd experience, feeling constrained and confined by what appear to be instructions (about how to approach the exercises, for instance) yet still totally at sea as regards what’s actually required. I may be wilfully misinterpreting your intent but I feel now simultaneously contained and set free.

You advised more consideration of tone – absolutely there was not much of that in the Assignment and you’re right about the background going on last – so I’ve begun a series of exercises with tone that I’m posting on their own page. I want to investigate all the media I have here, an amount that’s grown exponentially since I picked up that pencil a couple of years ago, to see what it’s capable of. I do this with cars and tech – read the manual, explore the interfaces, maintenance, specs and the like – so why have I not done it with this collection of paints, pencils, crayons and [new word alert] supports?  Another word new to me is reductive and now I know what that is, I can start to add it to my operational armoury, so thank you again.

You also recommend varying the pressure I apply to the support via the medium by changing my position, or holding the medium differently. This shouldn’t be too difficult given the kinds of contortions I already undertake to keep the cats out of the picture, but I’ve always tried to compensate before and not seen it as a possible advantage. I have two easels – one large, wooden and cumbersome but stable, the other light portable and inclined to collapse if challenged with a light breath of air. Those plus the table top should give me scope for initial experimentation.

Aim to think forensically about the process of what you are doing (as you are starting to discover), and tell this clearly bringing in tangential research and richness of underpinning as you go. We can discuss this further.

At the moment I’m not quite ‘feeling’ the meaning of forensic in this context. I would see it maybe as detailed and close attention with thought as to how the object arrived at itself in its present state, but yes a further discussion would be helpful so thank you for that offer.

Engage with contemporary practices- your references are coming on but the more you look at the more you will begin to assimilate into your practice- be focused, this is not a ‘casting the net’ exercise but rather look for specific ways in which other artists have overcome difficulties within their process and practice. Try to find information about the ways in which they work via interviews, observation etc.

I feel better about this now. I need to know not just what to look at or for, but why I’m looking in the first place otherwise I’m a bit aimless and dissatisfied with the process. After your feedback and your pointers, plus many discussions on the Drawing Facebook group, I’m beginning to get a sense of the why and to develop a vocabulary around the ideas. Suddenly I feel more able to watch art documentaries with purpose (my current hook is ‘Abstract: the art of design’ on Netflix) and a rudimentary but growing appreciation of the concepts underpinning contemporary artistic effort.

I have found The Drawing Room, also the Tate, Bridgeman, Oxford Art Online, WikiArt, MoMA, and about fifty local galleries within relatively easy reach (of each other, cafes, and as a real bonus, the sea) so I should be able to get around those in due course. I’m a member of our local art community, Steyning Arts, which has as members both amateur and professional artists. This is a real advantage to me because it gives me exposure to both the way art is made and presented, and the conversations that go with that environment.

We have a decent local library but I need to seek out the OCA resource.

Your pointers for the next assignment:

Work in the sketchbooks as you are doing (but more fully exploring mediums) before committing to the final image that you may produce on a separate sheet of paper or some other support. So, this means investigating the visual potential of your subject by testing out mediums in relation to the subject and question which would be of the most value in the given situation.

Make quick sketches, think about scale and how you can translate the vibrancy of a quick sketch into a larger size.

Try to push yourself outside of your comfort zone.

This feels less imperative, more permission, so thank you again, I’m going to do my best to give my comfort zone the fright of its life!

I’ll also re-work Assignment 1, although it might have re-worked itself a bit given the non-aerosol fixative I’ve used seems less efficient than the kind containing propellant.

Thank you for this comprehensive, kind, detailed analysis; it gives me forward impetus and a feeling of focused freedom.








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