Reflecting on feedback: assignment 1

The feedback from assignment 1 was very helpful with lots of pointers and advice for me. This is my plan taking this feedback on board:

  • Daily drawing and use of sketchbook which I will put up on my blog.
  • ‘Live’ writing on my blog as I am working rather than retrospectively.
  • An exercise on comparison and contrast of 2 paintings  and how this can be applied to my own work.
  • I will experiment more with different brushstrokes and using studies on a smaller scale, A5 .
  • When working on larger painting, I will try blocking  in thin tonal washes instead of drawing outlines.
  • I will make more prep drawing for assignment work.
  • I will critically analyse my own work more, and in more depth, comparing it to the work of others and looking for possible connections.

I have also commented on some of the comments below. 

Feedback on assignment
Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity
Working from your preparatory drawings is a useful process.  I suggest more of this will help your observational skills and develop your confidence and skills as you work through the assignments.

I realise that I need to work more prep drawings but my nature is impatient; by the time I have drawn something from several angles with different lighting options I am bored with it. So I will have to discipline myself more.

Your prep flower paintings offer some focussed fluid, brushwork- these qualities are worth developing further.  Practice drawing with the brush by building up thin washes then layers of paint at the prep stage.  (see Pointers) I enjoyed doing these and will certainly do more drawing with a brush. It seems to me a quick and enjoyable way of capturing something.

Sometimes drawing outline in order to plan the painting, hinders ability to remain flexible, adaptable and move the paint around.  Instead try blocking in thin tonal washes across the painting.  This  may help to keep the painting open to development and a more fluid re-painting. I can see this would be a better way of working and I shall do so next time, however I believe the assignment suggested using charcoal, which I got in a mess with 🙂

You reflect on your process at some length, it would be helpful to begin reflecting on the content of the work.  For example you comment briefly on the choice of objects for the still-life, a little more analysis and discussion of what these ‘mean’ to you and how you might communicate this will benefit your work. I could have indeed talked about what the objects mean, although I think I touched on this briefly. I suppose I was thinking they were peaceful aids to meditation – perhaps I did not manage to communicate this peacefulness in my painting but I was aiming for a realistic still life.

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

You have some prep drawings to inform the final painting.  The flower ones offer some fluid brushwork and mark-making.  There is a lightness of touch and sense of drawing (not filling-in) that works well.

More drawing on a regular basis, would benefit your painting development.   Think about using the brushes to ‘draw’ with the paint, rather than filling-in each object seperately.  This will help you see the painting develop as a whole, rather than as different parts.  (See Pointers) I will aim to do some drawing everyday, where possible and explore using a brush more than pencil. I am putting my sketchbook work up each month on my work blog and I hope this will help to discipline me into drawing daily.

You would benefit from exploring a range of brushmarks, building up of tonal ranges and working across a painting- through a series of sketchbook studies on a small scale: A5. Playing with materials and brushes quickly to enjoy the process and as preparatory pieces. (see Pointers).

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis  

Harvard referenced research, following good practice.

Some brief comments on individual works relating to chiaroscuro.  In the next assignment critically analyse and comment on your own works- in more depth (see Pointers).  This will help you develop your observation, analytical skills and vocabulary- all feeding into your general confidence.  At the moment you are relying on quotes rather than offering some of your own reflections.  I suggest you reflect on quotes and respond to these with your own thoughts…Ok, I take that on board and will do so. I have been to a few galleries these last few weeks during my trip to the UK  and have these to write up on my blog and will be sure to critically analyse the paintings I focused on.

Utilise, deepen and apply your analysis of others’ work to your own.  Ask how these might relate to your own experiments, ideas and how they may inform your development? (see Pointers).  Then set yourself some simple aims and tasks to try these out.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays
Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis  

Good use of Harvard referencing for your image and quote sources.

You’re using the blog  as an archive of your research, reflection and capturing the process of making work.  In parts the log seems to be ‘retrospective’ rather than as you’re working through exercises and studies.  It will benefit your progress to reflect, analyse and log as you work through each part of the assignment, rather than at the end. (see Pointers)  I have always (in D1) used my learning log retrospectively, as this seemed easier than stopping and logging on to write up what I am doing. I will try to have it open and write down the process as it happens. WordPress is sometimes annoyingly slow, and the internet here goes up and down which is not helpful 😦

You have begun to log, research and reflect on the basic tasks, exercises and process during an assignment.  The practice of logging regularly and asking yourself some critically analytical questions, will help you to gain some useful perspective and understanding of what / how you are learning.

Evidence of a small range of historical refs.   You will benefit from expanding on the research and analysing critically, in more depth.  (see both Pointers re: C21st work and compare / contrast exercise). 

Suggested reading/viewing
Research contemporary C21st artists such as:

Michael Petry ‘Nature Morte Contemporary artists reinvigorate the Still Life ..’
Thames & Hudson 2013

The Artist’s Handbook (see reading list)

Pointers for the next assignment
Reflect on this feedback in your learning log.

Use your sketchbook on a daily basis, if possible.  More drawing (with a brush)  will support your painting development. Make a minimum of 6 prep studies at no larger than A5:  these studies may be for composition, tonal or colour references .It is useful to know how many prep studies are required.

You will learn and develop more from the course if you can allocate more time to practice and repeat the exercises and tasks ( the building blocks for the assignment) – be more ambitious in terms of going beyond the tasks / exercises set. (as these are the minimum requirements).

Analyse and comment in more depth on how research of others’ work, might inform your own: set some aims as to how to develop possible connections e.g: chiaroscuro, colour, composition, content and meaning.

Ask more questions when researching and analysing the work of others’ (as well as your own work).  Set yourself a task of analysing and comparing two images of artists whose work you appreciate.  In your own words describe, analyse and critically reflect on the media, aesthetics, form and content of the works.  How do they relate to your ideas and practice?  Record all on your log- then make some aims for your own development. I will aim do this with some of the art I have seen recently on my trip to galleries in London.

Use your log regularly to reflect and critically  analyse your process as you work through exercises and assignment (as well as retrospectively).


Assignment 1: Still life with Buddha

The brief is to not be too ambitious, it has to be at least A3 in size, a still life, landscape or interior is best and it has to be representational.

My initial thoughts were of an interior scene; I recently saw a beautiful photograph of a library and thought of using some book in our study as a background, and to have some interesting objects in front. I was arranging a wooden Buddha in front and trying a few things when I thought maybe of doing a sort of shrine scene, with some related objects by the Buddha. I also felt the books were too fussy and would also be complex to do all the lettering on the spines, if this was to look realistic! I did a quick sketch of the buddha. It is a lovely dark, reddish wood and catches the light very well.



I moved upstairs to find a corner niche and set the Buddha in the centre and chose a leopard shell (that had been given to me in Sir Lanka by a local) and also some sand yin/yan candles from Bali, a necklace given to me by my yoga teacher and I also picked a hibiscus flower from the yard – we have 2 bushes that are flowering at the moment, problem is the blooms only last a day. I looked at the shape of the glass and the way the light shines through

I looked at the objects and planned a few things out. I set a light up to the right of the corner and there is also light coming in through the window behind.


I then made a small colour study to see how the colours would work. I used an orange and yellow mix  as the background colour, as this is the colour of the wall and also I thought would blend well with the wood surface. I made notes of the colours I used so I could reproduce the same, or change if necessary. There is red in the wood and the flower, and part of the necklace and also some of the candle so a crimson worked well with that.


I need to get the wood grain more realistic. Maybe best to work on that first before painting in the other objects! I am reasonably pleased with the glass and the shadows. I think the orangey-yellow ground gives the painting a ‘glow’ and works well. The Buddha also works well, although I need to blend this all much more rigorously. The shell was tricky but I do like it so I’ll leave it in, as I think the objects do work well together. The necklace needs to stand out more. The wall to the right could be grainier. Maybe I could try using a sponge for this? I am still not getting the Buddha head large enough, why is this? I guess the model has a larger than normal head. The flower will be different again when I do this for real. I have prepared an A3 sheet but actually wish I was going for a larger one now. I have got used to larger paintings.

The actual scene.

I started work the next day on the A3 sheet I had prepared with the ground colour. I drew in the basic shapes using charcoal, as per the previous exercise had recommended, however this got very messy and I couldn’t dust it off very well. When I started to paint it got messier still. I decided to abandon this sheet, and keep it to to one side. I had been thinking I wanted larger than A3 and I found an acrylic block canvas and decided to work on that, it is actually only a little larger than A3 and squarer in shape. I thought when finished and dry I could release it from the wood to send to my tutor (will have to ask about this).

I mixed up some more ground colour and painted the block. I tried using a sponge on the A3 sheet to see how the right side wall would look and thought it worked well, the block was dry by now so I made a start. I used a pencil to very lightly mark out the shapes. I painted the walls and the wooden surface in, the brown and red mix for the Buddha and used white to block in the shell, candles and the glass. Because I am working in my bedroom, I was sometimes on the bed, which gave the right view of the scene, and sometimes at the easel if I was doing a large area. I painted the shell first and added the reflection and some shadows.


The wood grain is coming on better than before and I am glad to have got the shell looking ok. In the end I spent 2 afternoons on this, not sure how many hours. It seemed like a lot 🙂




To be self critical: the Buddha’s head is still actually smaller than it really is. The shell ended up larger than it is actual size, I think maybe I was worried about the shell and made, literally, too big a thing of it. But it does look like the shell. The yellow-orange ground more orange than I planned; on the A3 sheet I had it the same but when I switched to the canvas block I mixed too much orange into it and didn’t see it at the time, but I think it looks ok like that, just not as planned out. I am pleased with the glass – no, not perfect but this is first time I have ever tried to paint glass with acrylics. I did try very hard to paint what I could see and not what I expected to see. I think the sand candles work well. But overall, maybe I have put too many objects in, and it looks this way because the shape of the board is more square than the landscape, and so there is not so much room in front of the Buddha.