Formal Assessment Reflection for Painting 1 – July 2016
- Demonstration of technical and visual skills
Looking over my assignment works, I think I have come a long way. In retrospect, my first assignment painting was really dull with a lack of subtlety and freshness. I struggled for some time with colour although hadn’t prior to the course. I think this is interesting as previously, I went with instinct and as I learnt more about colour theory, it was foremost in my mind and I probably tried too hard. As I progressed I let go of the “rules” although kept an awareness and became more instinctive with colour and consciously limited my palette which avoided muddying mixes. I think my most successful assignments were two and three, the still life of assignment two is much cleaner in colour and tone than one, the self-portrait of assignment three, is as my tutor mentioned, a serious work which I am quite pleased with. I attend portrait classes on a Thursday morning, which although short (around 2 hours actual painting time), have been fantastic at developing observation not only of features and proportions, but also character and personality. Having the chance to work on one portrait for a few sessions was a luxury that I hope I made the best of. I have tried to use a variety of media and apply the most appropriate to the subject or mood I was trying to convey.
- Quality of outcome
There were mixed results for this criteria. The middle three assignments were the most successful in my mind. I enjoyed the freedom of the large landscape in assignment four and it allowed me to be more inventive with mark making, using runs and splashes of paint to achieve a pleasing image. My tutor mentioned that this was an atmospheric painting which was a revelation to me, because when tasked with creating mood and atmosphere specifically, I come up short – big time. I have come to the conclusion that if I try for these adjectives in my painting, it falls flat and looks contrived. I have to feel it, rather than think it, and then hopefully it will happen. All my studies and planning for that particular exercise for mood and atmosphere, in Part Four, made for an empty painting that although loaded with symbolism in my head, said absolutely nothing as an image. Conceptualisation and communication of ideas are my biggest challenges for improvement. I made a concerted effort with assignment five, the series of paintings, to put across a message that is important in rural communities – the death of the traditional high street. Although, the series was not about this in its entirety, I wanted to communicate about life in the small market town near where I live, however, death is part of life. I feel I only got 75% of the way there, although, was on the right track. I think it comes under the “Good effort, must try harder” banner.
- Demonstration of creativity
I am addicted to my sketchbooks and often enjoy the process before creating the final painting more than the end result. I am beginning to loosen up and experiment more with mark making, media and collage – again with varying results – but that’s what experimenting is all about. I took some chances with assignment five and locked myself out of my comfort zone for 4 out of the 5 paintings. I really enjoyed the map painting, layering inks with cling film to give geographical type features, using string to denote roads and tracks etc. The decline of the high street painting probably worked better in my sketchbook planning than in the end result, yet I feel it was getting there. Going back to the exercises, I also enjoyed the abstract section, which I haven’t really tried before. These were well planned and I would like to try more expressive abstracts in the future and this seems to be coming out in the printing course I am now taking.
I actually now enjoy the reflection, thinking about what I’m planning to do and also what actually happens in the end product. I think this will help me with my challenge of conceptualisation the more I do it. I am very self-critical, especially during a project – this is why I like to put work away for a while and then look at it anew. The criticism is still there but the angst and frustration is not – this helps me judge what needs to be changed and reworked if anything. The research skill, for now I know it is a skill, is developing and I am more attuned to deciphering what other artists’ work means and says to me as an individual. The styles, techniques etc are fascinating and their biographies are interesting but it is what the work makes me feel that I try to focus on.
Submissions for Assessment
From my tutor feedback, a few of the finished pieces needed a rework which I did as per below:
Typically, the photographs are slightly different due to the light conditions when taken, however, my tutor advised that the two reds, the rug and the table runner, were too similar in colour. I could see how the rug was distracting from the main subject of the painting, so knocked it back with a few washes of burnt sienna. This retained the shadow and sunlit area on the rug but made it recede, bringing the still life forward.
Tutor feedback on assignment three mentioned that through my work in progress photos, I seemed to have brought in the shoulder, which made the head appear too big. Looking again I can see that this was the case – therefore, I brought the shoulder back out and regained the balance of proportion. He also mentioned that the eyes appeared to be at slightly differing levels. This I had noticed before sending it off. I had, however, thought I’d rectified this prior to submitting to my tutor but obviously not quite enough. I have reworked the eyes, defining the lids more as one is more pronounced than the other due to a lower brow – I’m still not quite sure it’s just right but was fiddling too much and was too close to really judge. Whilst I was working on the painting, I enhanced some of the highlights on the nose, chin and lip as the paint seemed to have sunk a little. I also reworked the nose shape which was a little too pointed and added some deeper darks in the hair. All in all, much better for the tweaks!
Again the light conditions have made the photographs a little different in contrast. My tutor feedback was regarding the fact that I had painted the original submission entirely with a knife, which, although worked fine for the more organic features of the image, it wasn’t so appropriate for the bridge.
I had to agree, as I struggled with the arches of the bridge and the pub to the left of it. He suggested I return to the brush for these to rectify the drawing of the structure. Hopefully this is now improved in the reworked painting, it does seem so more in the physical painting than is obvious in the photograph above.
This mixed media painting was going well in my sketchbook and I couldn’t quite understand what wasn’t working in the original painting. These empty shop fronts etc were painted in acrylic with torn tissue paper added to give a creased, cracked and dilapidated appearance. It wasn’t until all my work was packed up and sent off to my tutor that I realised that I hadn’t added any washes of paint over the tissue. This is where the difference between sketchbook and painting lay. I was working on three paintings at once for this assignment and my concentration must have lapsed with the relief of finishing them all – or so I thought! It was looking at the photo in my blog that made me realise. My tutor feedback mentioned the busy nature of the painting
and he suggested holding over a window mount to establish a better composition. However, I thought I’d try the method that I had originally intended by adding washes over the tissue. This helped enormously, I managed to bring forward some aspects and make others recede which gave a more ordered image for the viewer to understand better. I didn’t really want to crop the picture as I had always thought of the five paintings as a whole, even though they are stand alone too.
Supporting Work Submitted
Going through all of the exercises I have selected some as supporting work to the assignments. I tried to choose those pieces of work that had a successful result, showed different methods and skills, a variety of media and creativity.