Formative Feedback for Part 1/ Assignment One

For Part One and Assignment One, I received my formative feedback from my tutor in written form. I have tried to summarize and reflect on this feedback below in italics, and added my own thoughts and reflections in standard text:

Overall Comments

  • Log shows that you are thinking about what you am doing, and engaging with the themes of the course and your research;
  • Could do more to take this knowledge through into your drawings and be more ambitious for them. 

Feedback on Assignment (Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity)


Project 2, Exercise 1: Groups of Objects

  • Intriguing narrative.
  • Jar of coffee is tilting slightly.
  • Marks are nice and open.
  • To improve this you could:
    • Crop it;
    • Marshall your tones;
    • Take the space seriously.


As well as noting that the decaf jar is tilting, my tutor also gave me some useful pointers to try in future drawings, when working with cylindrical shaped objects:

  • Imagine them encased in a tightly fitting rectangular box, which should ensure that the base will stay flat. 
  • Or imagine a rod/pole going down through the centre of the inside of the form.
  • It could also be helpful to use an easel.
  • An easy way to check for slanting, is to look at the drawing in a mirror – this will then be more obvious. 

This is something I find difficult, and will work on. I have already started trying the rectangular box and the line through the centre of the object when sketching natural objects in Part 2, and I am finding this tip extremely useful! This is something I need to practice more though.

I am also going to try to use my easel more, so that I am looking ahead and hopefully will stop so much movement in my head, especially when drawing on a flat surface.

Project 2, Exercise 2: Observing Shadow Using Blocks of Tone
  • Agreed with my observation that the top of the beaker was off. 
  • The base of the beaker is beautifully placed on the table top;
  • Done well to consider the whole space;
  • Good attempt at capturing the cast light on the beaker;
  • Need to be more decisive with the garlic – either by swapping it for a lemon, or by doing a miniature version of the shading on my beaker onto each clove on the garlic. Suggested using a putty rubber for the fine details and subtle edges. 

I noted the same feedback as with the coffee jar in the last exercise, and this is definitely something I need to practice, to try to improve my perception of objects, and in how they are drawn onto paper.


  • This is something that hasn’t really worked.
  • The trick to drawing reflections is to treat them like patterns of objects in their own right, and being more specific. 

I noted some of the examples that were included with my feedback, and is something that I would like to work on more throughout the course and in my personal work. Admittedly, it is something I have in the past avoided drawing, as I find it very difficult to draw correctly.  I am aware that I didn’t make good use of space in this exercise, but I wasn’t feeling very confident in this, and I had deliberately chosen challenging objects to try to draw!


Assignment Piece

  • Could do with cropping down – if you lose the outside inch or two where the drawing fades away, it will allow the space to exist and the back wall will drop away;
  • Shapes are fairly accurate, especially the knife;
  • Could do more with tone, but the shadow on the right is doing lots of work and helping;
  • Just enough tonal definition on the bear to give it volume;
  • Some nice marks on the nose of the bear and in it’s fur;
  • The pages of the book have been treated sensibly and give a nice feel of the pages;
  • Composition is quite nice – nose works with the lipstick and shadow to balance the book. 

I was very pleased with these comments, particularly about the composition, as it was something I had obsessed with and worried about quite a lot before even starting to draw!

Sketchbooks (Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity)

  • Would have liked to have seen more evidence of the early exercises to extend your mark making vocabulary in your later drawings.
  • Suggest that you really fill your sketchbook with tonal drawings, and use a good spray fixative to fix charcoal. 
  • Also suggest that you stop writing in your sketchbook, or keep it to a minimum and away from your drawings.

Although I think I am improving with using my sketchbook more, I know that I do often have a tenancy to want to jump right in and just work on the main drawing for an exercise or task – I need to get back into the habit of simply enjoying drawing itself, rather than looking solely at producing the end piece – hopefully by doing this my ideas will flow better and I will be more familiar with the effects of the materials on the paper. In an effort to help break the writing habit, I have also started using a lined notebook to make notes in as I work through the exercises, I am hoping these will also help me record my progress in my learning log.

Research (Context, Reflective Thinking, Critical Thinking, Analysis)

  • At this stage, don’t try for an overview of a subject. Instead, try to scan briefly and then select two or three artists that you actually like and that might be directly useful to learn from. 
  • You make some good points about the artists you looked at but I can’t see any sign of you taking that new knowledge into your drawing and it sis essential that you do that as we progress.
  • Try asking a question at the beginning that comes from your own ambitions for your work and use that to guide you. 

This is something that I do need to get better at – I find it quite difficult to link research with drawing, I think this is partly out of habit, to treat them as two completely separate parts of the course.

Things I particularly want to work on at this stage include perspective, and drawing shiny things, including reflections in surfaces and objects.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical Essays (Context, Reflective Thinking, Critical Thinking, Analysis)

  • Try to be more constructive in your log when you are talking about your own work. 
  • Don’t worry about the general ideas of ‘messing things up’ or ‘getting better’. Instead just record what you have achieved and what you want to work on. That way your log will be much more useful to you. 
  • It sounds as if you want to work to understand how to compose drawings more effectively, and to use charcoal in more inventive and personally interesting ways. They are two great starting points for artists research. 

These are all things that I would like to work on, I need to get better at not worrying about ‘messing up’, as I am keen to improve, and am aware that the worry of messing up does hold me back at times.

Suggested Reading/Viewing

This was a link to a blog post about an OCA student’s drawing of a garlic bulb from 2013. I now see where I could have got more detail and definition into my earlier drawing, and also where the use of space comes in more when looking at a single object.


  • Edouard Vuillard
  • Henri Matisse
  • Francis Bacon
  • Michael Raedecker


  • Kathe Kollwitz
  • William Kentridge
  • Leon Kossoff
  • Maggi Hambling
  • Jenny Saville

Pointers for the Next Assignment

  • Reflect on feedback;
  • Take care of tonal modelling but don’t lose fluidity of mark making;
  • Use your sketchbook more and stop writing in it;
  • Make thumbnail sketches to work out composition and then use them. Crop the paper at any point, during or after the drawing is made;
  • Think about how to utilise what you have learnt in your initial exercises in your later drawings. 


I am also going to do some more observational sketching in my sketchbook with a range of materials, but aiming to get particularly comfortable using charcoal, and use a putty eraser for details and highlights. I also want to improve on my composition and perspective drawing, and have already started working on this, by lightly sketching out the shapes before starting to add tone and details. Another key area I want to improve is on drawing reflections, which is something else I need to practice.


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