Thoughts on Drawing One and sending in my work for Assessment
Distance learning while working fulltime and long hours has been very difficult for me. I did not realise the course would require a lot more time than just a few hours on a weekend.
I took up this course as I wanted to learn to draw. To quickly and accurately capture a motif on paper or an MDF board so I could then paint. It has been quiet a journey, and strangely I have enjoyed life drawing . I also appreciated the introduction to artists I had never heard of and seeing the variety , I was able to add more artists that I like to my list. Having learnt about tone, composition, colour, concept, aerial and linear perspective and much more, it’s made me aware that a drawing can also be a finished work and there is so much more to learn. I enjoyed the exercises, but at times it was frustrating as I haven’t been able to spend as much time on this course as I would have liked to, especially working outdoors, doing more research and on concept. At times I was rushing to complete the exercises. My drawings were very tentative and I lacked confidence. I wasted too much time colouring instead of observation. When I sent in my fourth assignment, my tutor Angela Rogers asked me to see Richard Liley for assistance. A one to one session with him made a tremendous difference. We went through some of my work and discussed the issues. We looked at examples of some artists’ work and he showed me how to improve on defining shapes, strengthen tone, shadows, composition and context. He made me aware of looking at negative shapes and relationship of the items in a composition. I feel that my ability to draw has improved since I started this course and I will continue with the learning process. I greatly appreciate the contribution made by Angela Rogers and Richard Liley.
I enjoy using water based materials and am going to sign up for Watercolour Practice, which I kept on delaying till I finished Drawing one.

Some of the work I sent as part of the assessment







Tonal study

How do I convey delicate wafer thin flat honesty seed heads next to spherical poppy heads. The honesty is delicate,but not transparent, with a strong dark rim holding it up. The poppy head has a powdery texture and a furry stalk. Below drawings are all on my A4 sketch book.
A quick sketch with a graphite block on wet paper. I was going to lift out stalks and possible honesty seeds with a cotton bud, but it did not work. Either it wasn’t the right paper or the graphite can’t be lifted out. I wanted to use the graphite it can achieve a very wide range of tones on wet paper.


This is with willow stick charcoal. I used a putty rubber to remove charcoal to draw one of the honesty seed heads. It’s easy to control this medium and you can get a wide range of tones. I got the thin stalks and rims with a very thin edge of the willow.


Ink, nib pen and brush. This hasn’t worked out at I had imagined. The ink was uncontrollable and I couldn’t soften some of the lines. However it was very exciting to do and I got lovely shades and blending of ink on paper including a lovely furry edge.



Charcoal pencils. I did not like them at all. The charcoal is very hard and marks did not blend easily so I did not carry on. I would leave them for outlining detailed charcoal drawings.


Graphite pencils. I started of with soft lines with 2B, then worked up getting in darker tones to up to 8B. There is no tone as such on the honesty seed head. There are some markings, lines and colouring, but no depth. The only way to bring them out is with a very dark negative space. In the first drawing the space near the left honesty is not so dark. I added more tone so it’s dark in the second picture. The graphite is easy to control and good for details. However it is very time consuming. This drawing took me nearly two hours.



A very quick sketch with Derwent sketching wash pencils and a one inch flat brush. This study took me less than 10 minutes. It’s not accurate, but I just wanted to try out the wide range of tone achievable with these pencils and a wash.


This is a tonal drawing in Quink on a A3 medium grain paper. I used some wax to block off white areas. I really like some of the textures created by the ink on the stems of the poppy seed heads. I wasn’t able to put the wax more precisely and I couldn’t scrape it to make changes. This drawing is not accurate, but it’s lively. Unfortunately you can’t see the texture in the photograph. I also like the composition and the range of tone.


I wanted to do a final drawing with more accuracy. The seed heads were proving to be a challenge. You can place fruit or vegetables on a table, get cast shadows, render various forms and it’s easy to show directional light. It was very difficult to figure out a composition, include a vessel that would hold the seed heads and include cast shadows. Eventually I decided to do a study using Derwent sketch pencils and wash on A2 cartridge paper. I included part of the vase, but left the surrounding area loose. The vase is on a table with sunlight from the right. The stem of the honesty with smaller stalks branching out is intertwined with the poppy seed heads. Hopefully the different angles of the honesty will suggest to the viewer it’s flat form. It’s impossible to show any directional light on them. The poppy seed heads are small and in a large drawing they seem to be lost in the honesty. This was a very time consuming drawing and I am disappointed with the result.


Line drawing.

as this is the final assignment, I have decided to choose observation in nature, something i am passionate about and can spend a long time on it. I am always looking at nature, whether while walking on the South Downs or while gardening, and I have a lot of materials available. The two different items I have been drawing at different angles interest me for various reasons. I love poppies and their seed heads leave a beautiful structure in the garden. The honesty plant, though considered a weed, leave beautiful glistening seed heads over winter which seem to light up like a lantern when the sun light fall on them. I can’t decide between the two so I will work on sketches for the line drawing on both of them together.

The first two sketches have fewer seed heads.



I added more and tried to arrange them so I get interesting lines and negative shapes.


It looks too busy so I reduced them again. It’s extremely difficult to work with dried stalks. The height of the honesty seeds was shorter than the poppy. If I cut the poppy stalks, they would loose their lovely curvy lines.

This one doesn’t work at all. The honesty looks like a bunch of grapes or balloons next to the taller poppy. I tried to draw just the honesty. I tried to put the stalk at an angle so the seeds would have some negative space and a variety of angles. This is even worse.


Research point
Look at Charles Renee Mackintosh and David Hockney

Charles Renee Mackintosh – his stylised rose is so simple yet instantly recognisable. His botanical prints are beautiful. My favourite is this drawing, it has the stalks that relate to the seed heads

I have a book on David Hockney drawings and his line drawings have been very helpful for the previous assignment. His economy of line and ability to convey a three dimensional image is very impressive.

Drawing is meditation on paper, a quote I read somewhere. I have been meditating on the seed heads trying to figure out how to get my line drawing and suggest volume and texture. The arrangement was in a powder blue vase on the floor and whilst walking past them, I happened to be looking at them at a 45 degrees angle, at a height a few couple of feet away. A poppy seed head caught my eye, just in front of the honesty. I liked the shapes made by the honesty and the negative shapes. So I sat about doing a quick sketch. It looks better that looking at the arrangement at a horizontal level.

I then set it up so I can look at it at a diagonal, placed some books on the floor to give it some height to get the ideal view. I hope the honesty seed heads shown at different angles will give it depth.


I tried another one in ink, just trying to pick out the seed heads that stood out and cutting out a maze of stalks. The honesty seeds at different angles. I like some parts of it. I tried not to lift the pen and some areas drew back to carry on with the drawing. I did not get the shapes of the honesty seeds right as it was difficult to come back to complete the shape. The shapes can be a long very thin oval to a big wide squarish oval.


The line drawing and looking at negative space has helped me work out the best view for the seed heads. In a way that’s the angle you would normally look at the seeds when they are out in the garden.