Drawing 1 | Part Four | Reflection on drawing figures

Demonstration of technical and visual skills – materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness and compositional skills.

Technical and visual skills  I feel I’ve had a lot of ups and downs during Part 4 Drawing Figures. I attribute this, in part, to having extended my deadline by nearly 2.5 months because of a busy summer and a lot of work. I felt I started Part 4 well and finished reasonably but lost my focus in the middle. I am extremely conscious now of how drawing is a skill that needs to be practised with regularity. I found that if I didn’t draw for several weeks (which happened a few times) it took a lot of practice to get my eye back in again.

Having said all this, I really enjoy drawing figures and my confidence is growing. This has been the hardest part of the course so far. The technical challenge, the need to find models and dealing with self-consciousness (not entirely mastered!) have all been difficult. Despite these challenges I know I want to develop my figure drawing much further.

Materials, techniques, observational skills I’ve used a variety of materials and techniques throughout including pencil, coloured, pencil, charcoal, pastel, ink, bleach and masking tape. Towards the end I found myself drawn back to  simple pencil, which surprised me.

My obvservational skills have improved but I find that my eyes still deceive me and I do need to measure in order to get proportions right. Head, hands and feet in particular can catch me out. Feet always seem to want to be too small and heads too big. Although there are faults in all my drawings, I feel that overall I’m coming to grips with foreshortening and proportions reasonably well.

Visual awareness and compositional skills
My visual awareness is much heightened since I started the course – both in my view of the world around me also when looking at the work of others. I look at drawings and paintings differently now, noting the composition, techniques, colour palette and composition. As a consequence my own compositional skills are improving. I was reasonably pleased with the composition of both assignment pieces. However, most of my work for this Part 4 has been in the form of quick sketches where the composition hasn’t always been uppermost in my mind.

Quality of outcome – content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas.

The quality of outcome of my drawings has been  mixed throughout Part 4. Most of my work has been in the form of quick sketches rather than finished drawings which is why I’ve submitted relatively little work other than the assignment and sketchbooks. I’ve done a lot of work that wasn’t successful but I don’t think this represented wasted energy or time as I learn from what doesn’t work as much as what does work. My work has been  erratic though: I did two life drawing classes (both long five hour sessions). I was quite pleased with the outcomes of the first and really felt that I was finally getting my hand and eye to work together. My second class a month later completely wiped out that feeling of confidence and I was very disappointed with the quality of the work I produced. I can only really attribute this to tiredness – and life drawing does require a lot of energy – and the fact that we all have good and bad days.

With this part of the course I finally stopped feeling precious about my sketchbook and embraced it as a place to try things out, experiment and accept that not everything I do is going to be successful but there is learning value nonetheless.  I feel I’ve acquired a much better relationship with my sketchbook and started to value it for the right reasons.

I did quite a bit of additional research into figure drawing including looking at the work of Emile Nolde and Paula Rego’s O Vinho prints. I can see that Rego’s prints influenced me in the use of colour for my first assignment piece. I could have created an altogether more Hogarthian drawing had I added in bottle of red wine and some empties, as well as the cigarette and ashtray! I resolve to be bolder next time.

Discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas
I believe I’m making reasonable progress in all these areas. I’m certainly thinking about art more deeply and finding inspiration in all kinds of unexpected places because my eyes and mind are more open. I’m also becoming better at assessing my own work.

Demonstration of creativity – imagination, experimentation, invention, development of personal voice.

For me this part of the course has been about trying to master the technical skills of figure drawing and because this was a relatively big task in itself I felt  the exercises did not leave much room, in my case, for the development of personal voice.

However, I did do some experimental drawings to explore new techniques in my sketchbook:

(1) Three drawings (2) – an experimental approach – using ink and masking tape (2) The clothed figure – an experiment – using ink and bleach

and I feel these were both well worth the time. I was disappointed not to have the opportunity to use either of these techniques in my final assessment but they did not seem to me to be best approaches for the job in hand. However, I’m quite sure I will develop and use both  them in future.

In terms of what my personal voice might evolve into,  I felt I was beginning to find a connection and make discoveries about my own abilities and style at both ends of a spectrum.

(1) The second pencil drawing for my assignment (tone) – the detail and texture of this absorbed me and pleased me.

(2) My bleach and ink sketchbook drawing of the ladies on Bournemouth beach. I felt for the first time with figure drawing that I captured some  gestural lines, a sense of movement and an impressionistic moment in time.

Context – reflection, research, critical thinking, learning log.
Summer is very busy time for me work wise as I always find myself with writing projects that people want to launch / publish in September. This meant a lot of tough deadlines including the OCA. I did feel that I lost my momentum at a point and I need to be careful about this in future. I couldn’t find big chunks of time to work on the assignment pieces and produced these working a couple of hours at a time over a couple of weeks. Surprisingly this worked quite well for me. In the past I’ve devoted say a day and evening to a drawing and worked for many hours until very tired with the result that my concentration has lapsed and I’ve made avoidable mistakes. I’m going to try to keep up the little and often approach.

I really enjoy the research projects (I didn’t at first). Now I find that I want to go further than the prescribed exercises and do my own research. This feeds my imagination and creativity and  opens my mind. Likewise, I’m enjoying keeping a learning log. This felt like hard work at the beginning but I like the record of progress and I’ve gone back to it many times for inspiration.

What next?
While I’m looking forward to getting started with Part 5. I’m not sure which Option to pursue. Should I use the opportunity to develop  my strongest points or as an opportunity to revise and improve areas of weakness? I don’t yet know. I will value my tutors thoughts. I’m leaning towards either Drawing Outdoors or Figure Drawing. In both of these I thought my work exhibited a lot of faults but a reasonable amount of promise too. They’ve also been the parts of the course I enjoyed most.



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