Tutor report for Assignment 2

Tutor report for Assignment 2

Formative feedback

Student name

Clara Maciulis

Student number



Drawing 1: Drawing Skills

Assignment number


Type of tutorial

(eg video/audio/written)


Overall Comments

Thank you for submitting your work via blog. You have been incredibly prolific in your making in this section of the course, well done. You have an open and enquiring mind and the foresight to see the potential in everything. As a result you have produced a large number of experimental works. You said yourself for this section you went wide rather than deep, going forward to the next part really evaluate what you have made here and try to develop the successful elements in the next body of work.

Here I need to review and deepen instead of throwing myself into new experiments . I will need to start by understanding what went well and what is not really worth pursuing right now.

Assignment 2 and 4 Assessment potential

I understand your aim is to go for the Painting Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have shown in this assignment, providing you commit yourself to the course, I believe you have the potential to pass at assessment. In order to meet all the assessment criteria, there are certain areas you will need to focus on, which I will outline in my feedback.

Feedback on assignment

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

This part of the course is all about close observation and interpretation. You have shown a level of discernment in your decision making and thought processes and a willingness to

take risks, continue to work in this way and you will produce thoughtful compositions and through your understanding of materials your ideas will be realised and refined. A variety of approaches and methods will serve you well as you progress. You understand the importance of preparatory work and are beginning to find a way for your research to feed into your course work, learning through doing and making.

Yes, I need to develop the preparatory work more, as well as connect the research to the exercises and the doing more clearly.

In terms of your research try to say more on ‘why’ rather than ‘how’. There is a guide to looking at artwork on the student site h ere which will help focus your contextual studies.

I won’t comment on everything you have produced, rather I will generalise and pick out specific points to focus on using the criteria.

Demonstration of technical of visual skills.

Working from real life you are improving your observational skills all the time. You are beginning to develop composition through preparatory studies, continue to work in this way, if you feel you are spending too much time ‘figuring’ stuff out, work smaller using thumbnail sketches and a viewfinder. There is colour, vibrancy and energy in your work, aesthetically it is pleasing for a viewer and I do get a sense of ‘you’ from the work which is great at this point.

Be careful of being overly illustrative, heavy outlines can do this.  ( This is good advise, I must definitely avoid this more) Whilst you can interpret things in your own way, certain things still need to look right. Have look at Van Gogh’s room for example. (Oh yes, I know this , am trying hard to make things look right, but thats just not very successful just yet..)


You have a love of colour but were surprised by how well the orange and blue worked together, these colours are complimentary, do a bit of research into the colour wheel and colour theory. It may allow you to make informed choices more quickly and save you some time. Yes! Am already looking at Rudolph Steiner’s color theory.

Your Scandinavian still life works well, the muted tones with the pop of red is effective, it has a similar feel to the unfinished/finished drawing with the coloured cushions and biro cup and saucer. Again the juxtaposition of the brown paper on your pots and glasses drawing works well, however the rest of the drawing isn’t as strong. It is more of an illustration than an observational piece.  ( This is good to hear- it is true that I tend to fall into some a little cartoon like illustration often, without noticing it myself ) As you continue to explore this technique you will get better at discerning what you should add and what you should take away, but it will take time. For example the bag and chair piece, I think if you left it at the stage below it would have worked better, there’s a strong sense of absence with the back turned to the viewer in its unfinishedness. I have a tendency to finish the drawings too much, will definitely explore this finished/ unfinished more in depth.

The row of carrots on brown paper piece that you made is a successful drawing. Your description of one of the carrots being like a pair of legs is humorous and there is a narrative to this piece because of that. They almost remind me of synchronised swimmers legs sticking out from the water. That aside, the subject matter and surface complement each other, the colours work well and the composition is nicely balanced.

The Taiwanese dinner piece is another good experimental drawing and I feel like the Thiebaud pieces work well with this too. It is good to consider the negative space in your drawings as you work out your compositions. Negative space!

These cropped bowls are really effective as a little series. Although there are elliptical issues, the colours, composition and the way you have executed them is great.

Your papaya’s as a series like this would work also. You could play around with zooming in tighter etc. ( I like the idea of exploring series)

For this section of the course you produced many experimental works rather than refined drawings. Going forward to the next section carry on this enquiry but try to take what worked through to making some more finished works. I will choose less subjects and explore them more in depth, also with more preparatory work.Practice creating tonal variation with a variety of media to avoid relying on heavy outlines. YES! 

Quality of outcome

You have tried out a range of surfaces and materials to work on and reflect well on your choices in your blog. I really like that you are collecting newspapers from your travels ad using these to work on. I would love to see you pursue this further. You admit to struggling with the sketchbook element this could be a solution. Continue to collect and request these newspapers (perhaps from your fellow students) and draw on them, fashioning them together at the end of the course in the form of a sketchbook. I love your idea of a visual travel diary, definitely do this!

I love the freedom the idea of the newspapersketchbook gives !  Will pursue this!

Demonstration of Creativity

You are certainly not lacking in imagination or risk taking, keep this up. Be careful of getting stuck in a certain way of doing things, you latched onto portrait style and an almost foreshortening view with long shadows for quite a few pieces. You allowed your research to feed into your work for example Georgia O’ Keeffe’s cropping and Wayne Thiebaud’s minimalist compositions.I think you should explore negative space further as you try to make that relationship between refined and unrefined work. For example the paper objects/paper dolls one is interesting but there is a bit too much going on. These pieces reminded me a little of Matisse’s cutouts, the cushions reminiscent of the squares on the Snail. Have you thought about investigating collage within this idea?

I love that idea!

Also you mention carrying around a bit of driftwood and beach debris for ages until you found time to draw it, why not make a site specific work with these, a temporary drawing that you could document?

I love the freedom and multitude of possibilities that open up when using newspapers, collage, and temporary drawings can all be part of the process!


Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

You sketchbooks are a place for you to unleash your imagination. Do try to work from real life and if this comes in the form of your travel diary and newspaper drawings this is fine, a sketchbook doesn’t need to be ready made.


Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

As I’ve mentioned previously you have allowed your research to feed into your making, continue to do this. Remember I don’t need a biography of the artists you look at at. You’ve actively visited some galleries as well, being well travelled allows you to see a variety of works in different settings, be sure to take advantage.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis
Your learning log is clear and navigable. Not all images can be enlarged through a click though, if possible make this happen going forward, when relying on viewing images on a screen it’s good to see them close up. ( will research how to do this) You reflect well on what you are doing and why which is really good.

Suggested reading/viewing


In terms of the unfinished/finished, abstraction v realism side of things have a look at the likes of Ritchelly Oliveira, Angela Fraleighand Dominque Fortin.Look at Matisse’s papercuts and explore negative space further. With relation to your newspapers check out Tina Berning’s‘100GirlsonCheapPaper’andoneforperspectiveAlyssaDennis.

I look froward to exploring the works of these artists that are all new to me!

Pointers for the next assignment

  • ●  Reflect on this feedback in your learning log.
  • ●  Sketchbooks
  • ●  Develop successful elements from experimental pieces into more refined work in the

    next section

  • ●  Say more on why rather than how in your research

    Please inform me of how you would like your feedback for the next assignment. Written or video/audio

    Well done, I look forward to your next assignment.

Tutor name

Joanne Mulvihill-Allen


24 September 2016

Next assignment due

7 January 2017

I feel really encouraged and inspired by this report. I always TRY to sketch more realistically from life and then tend to stray away and experiment instead and was insecure if I am too far away from the required coursework. I feel like although Joanne’s report points out how important it is to learn more technique and where to work, it leaves a lot of room and freedom to experiment with newspapers, collage and even temporary drawing.

Excited to start Part 3 ( despite the perspective exercises looming… ) 🙂


2.3.3 Material differences

There are two main things characterizing my little house – colours and the proximity to plants, so although I chose a more contained space to draw- looking onto the wall instead of out to the garden- colours and plants had to be present.

I chose the vertical composition from the previous exercise, with my sofa full of pillows, a high pile of extra cushions that can be laid out in a circle around the table or folded out to lie down on, a corner of the table in front of it with a Shiva statue and a candle holder a corner of a hammock, and of course plenty of plants around.

You see the outer wall of the garden with a small wooden fence on top. The hole in the wall in the back goes to the neighbours, because I only have a small “housetemple” that is obviously not enough for all the Gods of this religious island, but luckily my neighbours have a big housetemple, so problem solved- there is a space in the wall to the neighbours garden so the Gods can walk through freely. ( Just as a little note because I love the peculiar stories of this magical island, so far from my Western beliefs).


A3 mixed media paper from Canson ( but why do they have to stamp their brand name all along the edge?) The wall, the front table and the concrete floor in watercolour, then the more colourful cushions and details with oil pastels because I love the luminosity of those colours. The plants were drawn in Uniball pen and then coloured with watercolour. I tried to smudge the oil pastel on one pillow, but decided to leave this more “childish” “crayon like” effect of not smudging.

Its not a really good drawing, but it definitely feels like my house- a little crooked and not so perfect but colorful and full of pillows and greens 🙂

2.3.2 Composition – an interior

Composition – an interior

For this exercise I picked a cozy and colorful space in my house , that I think I can use more for still life as well.

These are 4 A4 sketches in charcoal from different viewpoints, two in horizontal and two in vertical format.


I made an effort to stick to the “preliminary sketch format” here and not get all entangled in details again. I feel like the portrait format offers more of a sense of intimacy ( contrary to what was suggested in the course book), less distracting with fewer objects.

I will choose to develop the second view, but from a slightly lower angle. I like that the roof is not visible, just the outlook on the plants.

Assignment 2


 A garden project

Vegetables seem to be a main theme all through my exploration of the exercises for still life. The variety of colours and shapes is quite incredible, they are easily available and easy to just eat when the drawing is finished. I love visiting local markets and discover new varieties. Gardening and vegetables are also themes that seem to be discussed wherever I go.

Now I am in my partner Andre’s apartment in Lisbon, and he is just starting to create an inside garden in his city flat, as a small urban permaculture project. This gives me a beautiful opportunity to observe and document the transformation of the room, and the development of the small plants, although I might not be here long enough to see some actual vegetables growing this time around. I like the idea of the place changing with this indoors garden.

At the same time, as a mirror, I want to observe some decay, in the same vegetables that will be growing here as new and fresh little plants. In a way I am rushing ahead, or messing with the time line, as I will observe the sprouting and growing, then shrivelling up and dying of  the same species of vegetables.

The very beginning- new ceramic pots arrived today:


A very messy start ..

So here are pots and earth. It is still far from a new design of the room. This is a phase of extracting seeds, sprouting seeds, growing seedlings.

I study the extraction of seeds from a chili pepper more in detail:

I am not really sure yet where this is leading, but I love the process. Every time we prepare food there seem to be something to keep and re-use, the seeds, the compost, the coffee grind….

The tomatoe seedlings are already growing, and many extracted seeds are planted. The pots have found their place. I start doubting if it is on this trip that I will document how the garden looks, it will take a long time for it to be lush and green , but I also enjoy studying the small parts. Today a sack of worms joined the family…

A baby palmtree and a garden glove, a view of the pots ready on the balcony- I see potential for still life in everything:

This morning , I came into the kitchen and there was this incredible light shining from the window on the starts of Andre’s urban garden: a blue spray bottle for the plants, a blue little plate with newly extracted seeds, a plastic cup with avocado seeds for sprouting. I had some other ideas on how to get started on this assignment, but this was just too beautiful to miss.

I had to be quick to at least sketch out the light before the sun moved, so no preparatory sketches and planning. I grabbed the A3 block , moved the composition around a bit and started.


What really made up the composition here are the dramatic colorful blue and green shadows, and then the surprising contrast with the bright orange carrots.

I used a Sennelier turquoise ink for the blue bottle, plate and shadows , and some Liquitex sap green ink for the other shadows. I added some detail and depth with blue and purple colour pencils. I also used colour pencils for the plastic cup and the avocado seeds and the small tomato seeds. I like using the colour pencils for more subtle details.

For the carrots I chose the brightest orange and purple felt tip pens I could find, Giotto turbocolor from the supermarket, painted on top of the turquoise and green inks that shine through in places. To create a really deep and dark background, I used oil pastels , black and purple. Finally I added some highlights with white Liquitex ink. I am happy I chose the ink for the transparent bottle and plate, it looks light and transparent.

This drawing really gave me a chance to try out a lot of different media again and mix them together. I loved the spontaneity and playfulness of the process, and I think for the first time ever I stopped in time, not overworking the details.

I enjoyed drawing the carrots, and continue exploring mixing different media with a new composition, including one carrot that I just love. It is shaped like the thighs of a woman, I could almost draw a nude with it. But finally I decided to place it “on it’s head”, an elegant headstand, with another supporting carrot and a beautiful purple mini artichoke.

This time I include more of the surroundings with the window behind the table with the still life, and the curtains. The light comes straight from the window so the long shadows are a main part of the composition as well.


I used a very luminous orange Uniball pen for the carrots, with some yellow and reds in coloured pencil. I love the Uniball pens that I discovered through the OCA blog. The artichoke and the shadows are drawn with a purple Bic pen.The tree in the background is with sap green Liquitex ink by brush, the curtains with pink aquarelle and light blue coloured pencil.I love the freedom of mixing and matching. I think again this drawing is spontaneous and free in it’s character, not too detailed but with lots of different brush strokes and marks. I am happy with the placement of the objects as well. Most often I wish I had cropped the image more, but here I like the relationship to the surroundings. I reminds me of a scene in a theatre, with the vegetable actors on the stage.

I am just fascinated by the shapes of the carrots and decide to explore them further by drawing on the brown paper bag I bought them in. I place them in a simple row with a strong backlight. That lightning with long shadows in the front appeals a lot to me right now- I just realized this is the third drawing backlit 🙂 I want this very simple subject and composition on a “simple” background.

The orange colour doesn’t really stand out well from the brown background in pen or pencil, so I decide to paint white acrylic as a base, and then use both pen and coloured pencils on top of the acrylic. The long black shadows are painted in acrylic as well, black, then white, then wiped off while wet to show more of the paper bag again.


I quite liked drawing on the crumpled background and will explore this further in some way. I think it really fits the vegetable/garden theme.

Gardening on our minds….:


Scandinavian still life

This week I leave Lisbon to visit family in a beautiful house in the Swedish Gothenburg archipelago. Everything in this house is very light or white with sleek Scandinavian design and a lot of bright, open, calm spaces. I have struggled through a few days of “quick sketches around the house”, so today I decide to draw a Scandinavian design inspired still life instead.

I choose to keep it all very white or light, except for one colour accent and definitely want to include these little white round flatbreads that  my grandmother used to bake. When I drew the  stillife of the “Portuguese dinner” for the exercise with blocks of colour-  with the pumpkin and cheeses on a chair- I much preferred the various stages of the drawing with accents of colour on the objects and white background, to the finished drawing. So placing one colour accent in the midst of the white here, I will recreate that situation.


I like the chair and the breads, but the ham looks too flat and shapeless, and I will choose tomatoes instead of the cucumber to have a bright red colour accent. Originally I chose the cucumber for this because I wanted that diagonal pointing to the breads, but if I put a hard cheese there instead of the ham, that can serve the same function.


I used Caran D’Ache Supracolor soft pencils on A4 ( travelling lighter this week). Ellipses- oh dear , oh dear. I am happy with the contrast of the almost monochrome surroundings and the surprising colouful tomatoes.  It could all have been better kept a tone lighter though, the white and light grey colours got a little too dark when shading. I will continue to experiment with this. I am happy it feels like it really reflects the surroundings here.

Back in Lisbon and the vegetable garden project. I can’t believe what has happened on the decay part- in just a little over a week my carrots are completely shriveled up and covered by fluffy mold. They look more like some small shrimp-like creatures than like carrots.

Here I try some different compositions:

I decide to stay with only two carrot creatures engaged in conversation, place them on a brown paper bag on a white table with natural light from above and slightly behind the objects.


The drawing is A3 with mixed media: I used turquoise and sap green ink with a brush for the “far” background, watercolours for the paperbag and table and shadow, then the Caran D’Ache colour pencils for the carrots and acrylic paint on top for the mold.

I think I managed to render the shrivelled up and moldy character of the carrots well, and I liked experimenting with using so many different media in one drawing. I really enjoy the creature like shape of the carrots. I like the contrast of this more subdued drawing to the flashy one in pink and orange when the carrots were still fresh and glowing. I could have zoomed in more, but chose not too, as I think the surrounding elements add to the right mood of the drawing.

I want to explore this carrot a little further by drawing it directly onto the paper bag again, with the idea of doing a collage opposing this shriveled up old carrot and the fresh new carrot seedlings of our little urban garden.


This is the brown paperbag with a coloured pencil and acrylic carrot and uniball pen shadow.


This is the A3 drawing of the pots and glasses with the really young carrot seedlings growing  and a garden glove.


This is the final collage with the paperbag on the A3. I show a few green leaves in the background to emphasize the garden feel. The garden glove is not really necessary for planting these small pots, but  I liked the element of “work” and “human” it adds. It looks like a hand pointing diagonally towards the young carrot plants. I think the real paperbag adds an element of realism that I like.

It is really really hot here and so easy to let a little something dry out and look like this after even a day of too little water:

Unfortunately I have to leave this garden here as I am traveling to Taiwan tomorrow and after a few days on to Bali . It feels like I still wanted to explore so much more and always so little time..


Home-sweet home! I will stay here for a month straight ( well just a few days Kuala Lumpur sometime half way) and it is such a great feeling to be HOME! And I don’t have a studio, but I have a table in my room that I can mess up and just leave. These past months it feels like I have been packing and unpacking art materials more than I have been using them 🙂 ( And I was dragging along drift wood and beach finds for a month and ended up not using them!)

I decided to sketch some simple everyday items I am happy to see again: My motorbike helmet, the keys to my house, some Indonesian money and my Indian purse for it. I actually miss my motorbike when I travel 🙂


I wanted to create something quick and a little wild with ink and brushes, but this got a little wilder than planned when I accidentally spilled the water on the bottom of the page and the whole table and stood up abruptly so all the still wet blue ink flowed and smeared. At first I was bummed because I was quite happy with the shape of the helmet, but then I remembered an OCA blogpost about “the happy accident” and continued with the other elements in this rough smeary fashion. I quite like the style although it feels very different from how I would normally draw. So I decided to explore this a little further on the next sheet that also got a little spotted by the previous blue ink:


And yet another version by first using Uniball pens to draw the items so they are somewhat more defined:


And then added watercolours for the background:


I like the combination of the scribbly and the blotchy, I like that the Uniball pens add more detail so the objects are easily identifiable, but then the ink and watercolor keeps the more flowing, looser style.

I have been sitting by this table for far too long struggling to do the exercise “at home” looking over the back of my blue chair to the kitchen beyond it, and wishing to rather just have a play with a still life and this back of the chair instead. So here we go 🙂

One aspect of being back in Bali is the amazing fruit and another is the DARK! It gets pitch dark really early evening, so I wanted to draw that with more contrasts and dramatical lighting. I wanted to keep the composition really simple and focus on the mood. Trying a single papaya with or without limes.


Going for the simplest version- just the dark, the chair, the papaya half in shadow.

Here on A3 with coloured pencils:


I like the simplicity, but it lacks the dramatic light and dark I was aiming for.

I use water to change the intensity of the coloured pencils:


This feels closer to what I was aiming for. I like this more painterly character.

Now I try with oil pastels on a black page, unfortunately I could only find A4 in black so it is a little small.


I really like the luminosity of the oil pastels on the black page. This was much more the dark and light effect that I wanted.  I am happy for this discovery and will experiment more with black paper. I like the contrast in light and also in size between the chair and the papaya.


Taiwanese dinner

While still in Taiwan last week, my friends and I went to this very bare and austere diner, where you picked up little black plates of various vegetables at a counter, and then sat down at a shining white table where a big pot of rice was already waiting. We were three persons and when we all placed our array of little black plates on the table , it formed this beautiful very clean and clear stilllife. I took a picture , so this still life is drawn from that photograph on a newspaper I brought back from Taiwan.


I first covered the newspaper with a thin layer of white ink, to make it less absorbent and to let the characters fade into the background a little. Also I collaged a bit to cover the pictures so as to leave only text on the page. I then experimented with all kinds of combinations of media. I decided to draw the black plates in ink because I liked the opaque and shiny effect, and then to draw the veggies in watercolour. I liked the more fluid painterly character of the watercolor, and that they don’t stand out too much from the plate. The main focus of the composition is the contrast between the white table and the black plates.


Here is the full page of the newspaper. I drew it a little “too big” with the intention of cropping it. This is my final version:


I think the drawing really reflects the “no nonsense” simple character of the place and the scene. It was so bare you could hear every sound echoing in the space. Also I like that the Chinese newspaper places the scene in the cultural context.  Drawing ellipses is not my forte, but drawing on the newspaper allows it to be more imperfect than if I had drawn the scene on a crisp white page. I prefer drawing from life than from a photograph, but this was an idea I just couldn’t quite let go without trying.

Fish on the road

Today  when I was riding home on my motorbike, I saw something glittering on the road, and thought it was a snake, which is quite common here. But as I drove past I realized that it is a huge FISH just lying on the road. I continued driving and my mind was racing with thoughts of what? why? how? from where? should I pick it up?

So I came home and of course started sketching it.

I guess this is pushing the subject of still life a bit far , but then if fish on a plate is acceptable, so why not play around with drawing fish on a road… And as I have some beautiful newspapers in Arabic from a day in Dubai last week (on my way to Taiwan), I decided to draw this rather surreal subject onto them. The subject has absolutely nothing to do with anything Arabic, but also the subject had nothing really to do on that road, so this is just to push the weird factor a bit further.


I tried the road in ink and in watercolor and will stick to ink which looks more like asphalt. Unfortunately my glossy pencils don’t want to draw on the ink nor the watercolor, so I will draw the fish in white acrylic first and then draw the fish with watercolour and pens on top.


This is the whole newspaper page. I wanted to show a lot of road to place the fish in the weird context, but in the end I prefer to crop it down a lot to really place the fish at the center:


The fish became a little too “cartoon like”, but for this weird subject, that is quite fitting. I had a lot of fun playing with this today and feel some relief after all the “At home” perspective drawings.

Finished / Unfinished

After having had a play with newspapers , I want to go back to exploring some more “technical” still life, with balancing colouring and leaving items “unfinished”. I am thinking of for example Cezanne’s still life where some parts are painted in detail and some are just left as rough sketches. I will also include a little more of the surrounding interior scene ( as this is a technical challenge for me)

I will use the colourful corner of my sofa that I drew for the last exercise of “at home” as a background of some not colorful items, and then reverse the idea with very colourful items on a neutral unfinished background.

Colourful pillows

As the background of the turquoise sofa and rainbow coloured pillows is really explosively colourful, I decide to place some white and plain items on the bright green little traytable and explore this contrast .


I am slowly colouring the background with watercolour/ink , and observe the pattern made by the finished and unfinished parts. When do you stop?

When left unfinished, the drawing looks like it is still in process, something will still happen, it adds some dynamic, some element of time.


On another page , I try to let the whole background explode in colour (watercolour/ink) and leave the objects in the center just scribbled , once in purple ink and once with a simple blue biro pen.The finished background is all pop, a bright and flashy coulisse. I don’t add much details or shadows because I like this cartoon like style again, it’s not real. And the plate and bowls don’t pretend to be real either, It’s just paper, a scribbly drawing.


Here I change to coloured pencils for the same exploration of finished/unfinished. The drawing left with more space left unfinished definitely has less weight, its lighter and dynamic. It looks “done” and doesn’t leave the expectation to go on drawing.

This is how it looks on A2 aquarell paper. This paper is amazing- I am ashamed to admit that I have gone this far in the course before discovering what a difference it makes to have great paper- after so many bubbly drawings! I start with the background and leave the white items out to start with.


Then I decide to go for the scribbly blue Biro:


The background is watercolour, except for the turquoise which is Sennelier ink, just because the colour is so incredible. I could have gone on with shading and highlights for another kind of drawing, but here I want that unreal, pop feeling. The plate and bowls and squeezed out lemon (left over from the meal that is no longer on the plate? just a little hint at the classical stillife)  are just scribbled in blue biro- saying- hey we are just paper objects scribbled here.

These “paperobjects” remind me of paperdolls with changeable paper clothes. I have this vision of a paperdoll family with paperdoll lives that can be placed in different interior settings, like playing house. I would love to explore this but wow- this seems like a massively unappraochable project for me who is not only struggling so much with drawing interiors , but then adding human figures to that- Ha! – even stickfigures have to be somewhat in proportion. Lets see how pressing this idea grows…

Here is the result of the second approach of the same subject: A3, Caran D’Ache supracolor pencils. I start from the “other end” here, focusing on the white objects first: ( ellipses- urgh! but just to say I chose this on purpose to explore another weakness!)



I like the softness of the coloured pencils. Here the “unfinished” parts stand out as highlights, and it just looks light and airy, but without the “unfinished” sense of the watercolour drawing.

Both the watercolour version and the pencil version are still too “controlled” though, a little stiff. I know this is partly due to being seated on the sofa itself while drawing and being quite conscious about balancing drawing board and water and colours and all without spilling it everywhere. It wasn’t as comfortable a choice as I had thought when first choosing this viewpoint.

Finished/ Unfinished – Market day

Back to vegetables! Today is market day and I came home with this irresistible bunch of bright red radishes, a big bunch of two kinds of parsley and a transparent bag of pink/white beans. I want to explore a colorful subject in the unpolished, unfinished background.


I want to leave quite some space around the objects, to have a balance between this finished and unfinished. Here I explored some different versions of media and compositions in my sketchbook. Here on A3 in Caran D’Ache Supracolour pencils and Uniball pens.


I chose the quite large space around the objects, but then decided that I want to try and come closer anyway. So one more A3 version:


Here I used the Uniball pens much more and freely, and draw much less detail for the parts in coloured pencil. The radishes themselves are in oil pastels to really give them that shiny bright red tone. I much prefer this version. It has the more alive, more spontaneous and fresh quality I was aiming for. The Uniball pens were perfect for that rough “hint” of the shapes without them being too finished.

Blue chair

I was struggling so much with the “at home” drawings, that drawing furniture or the room doesn’t really appeal to me. But I want to challenge myself here, so I chose to explore a chair for this still life.

A long and windy path of approaching chairs..:


I hung my colourful bag on the blue chair and added my headphones to the scene. The light is incredible -lighting up the chair from the background and reflecting the blue legs on the floor.


I included a piece of the bed and the stone lining in the floor to place the chair in the room, but it doesn’t really do the job of making the idea of the space clearer. I used oil pastels for the bag as I was hoping for the bright luminous colours like on the radishes before. Then I regretted that as the oil pastel seemed so out of place in this more subtle drawing, tried to scrape it off which made a mess and then covered it again. I was actually quite happy with my crooked chair but then feel like I messed it all up with the wrong media and colours.

So here another go. A3 again. I really wanted the lit up chair to stand out from the darker background, so here I approach it in various green and blue inks:


I draw the bag in subtle colour pencils this time, and wet the pencils for the watercolour effect:


So this is much closer to the drawing I wanted. The chair is far far far from ideal and it seems even to tilt a shoulder under the weight of the bag, but I am still happy I confronted this subject that seemed daunting to me 🙂

Ceramic bowls

A while ago we took a ceramics class with my daughter, and as a result we have lots and lots of colourful bowls. I experimented with a colourful still life of these bowls ( dreaded ellipses!) and added a bright pink dragonfruit to the turquoise one.


I wanted to draw again with Uniball pens and watercolours, but in a more subtle, dreamy way.

Here are the result on A3 with ink, watercolour and Uniball pens:


I am really happy with this little series, just because of its poetic subtle colours. There is no real depth or meaning or process involved, but a happy experimentation 🙂

I decided to use these bowls again and explore the “finished-unfinished” again, with a looser more scribbly style using Uniball pens inks and watercolour.


First I scribbled with the colour pens, then I tried using a white oil pastel for the highlights, so the watercolour or ink will not stick there, last watercolour with a waterbrush.

The oil pastel for highlights is an idea to remember!


Here I wanted to avoid the “coloring in”, so I started with the shading in watercolour and ink, then scribbled on top.

I like it better when the bowls are “only scribbled”- I am trying out some different compositions with this:

This is the small one I choose to continue drawing :


Three versions on A3:




As much as I tried to draw loose and scribbly, this still looks stiff and not spontaneous. I liked the thumbnail, but it doesn’t work in a larger size. The composition looks boring. After all this preparation I am quite disappointed. So I try to add some veggies and scribble on:

This really shifted it! Now I like the spontaneous loose scribbles in contrasting colors. The fruits and veggies are still transparent as you can see the bowl under it. The drawings became more alive and interesting.


Contemporary stillife – Wayne Thiebaud

During the Foundations course I discovered the work of the American painter Wayne Thiebaud. He placed similar common objects like cakes, icecreams, hotdogs etc in a row , on white background, lit from the side.Inspired by his work, I want to try out some more “contemporary” still life.


The Milky Way bars fit the subject of cakes/ ice creams etc well, but to reproduce the painterly character I would have to use oil pastels, and then have a real challenge with the detail of the label. Actually I realized Wayne Thiebaud doesn’t use objects with letters or labels. So I like the pen version best, but thats not in the right painterly style. It reminds me more of Andy Warhol Campbells soup can, but then he used print and no shadow.

Anyway I try out the line of Milky Ways on A3 with scribbled pens as a contemporary still life:


I like that it is very different from what I have explored so far and opens up a lot of new possibilities .

I try a line of strawberries to get back to the oil pastels:


All the strawberries are of different shape, so I don’t think Wayne Thiebaud would have chosen these either. His art really mostly shows very similar man made candies/cakes/objects. I will continue experimenting with some filled cookies instead:


Here on A3 with oil pastel:


I had the belief that I would be struggling less with the oil pastels when the format was bigger and the subject so simple, but it is still a media I don’t know how to deal with at all. I like the painterly character and the luminous colours of the pastels, but its just such an imprecise smeary mess when I use them. Something more to work on.. I am not at all happy with this drawing,  but again it opens up some new paths to explore.

I give it another go on A3 with 5 cookies and coloured pencils:



And with drawing over with water to turn the pencil into watercolour:


I prefer this version- it looks painterly and still has detail. The page looks way to empty though. These cookies are just not the ideal subject for this composition.


It is time to send in Assignment 2. This has been an incredible chapter for experimenting and it feels like I could just go on and on. It was a surprise for me to see how much I loved drawing still life. The “at home” part really highlighted many weak points, so it is also something I have to practice further.

I will take a look at Chapter 2 from the point of view of Assessment criteria. In this chapter I find several of the still life that I did for the exercises better than the ones for the assignment. I think I need to spend less time on exercises in future, and more time on the final assignment.

Demonstration of technical and visual skills- materials, techniques, observational skills , visual awareness, design and compositional skills:

This chapter has been an opening to a lot of experimentation with new material and techniques, so I have approached a lot of subjects without the technical skills but with a lot of will to learn. It has also highlighted a weakness when it comes to drawing perspective, so that is definitely something I worked on and will continue working on.

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

As I have explored a lot of different approaches, the quality of outcome is varied too. But although varied, I think the path is quite clearly documented and communicated in the log. I don’t always do enough preparatory work, but as the chapter progressed, it got  better.

Demonstration of creativity- imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice.

This chapter has allowed for a lot of imagination and experimentation with new media and new approaches. I believe the personal voice will emerge after continuing this research and play for a long time.

Context reflection- research, critical thinking ( learning logs ).

Considering how much time I spend on this log, I would give myself a high grade for it 🙂 I could always do more research of course, but it is a fine balancing of spending time researching or drawing. This chapter I discovered some artists new to me- Yann Kebbi, Ginny Grayson. I could see Cy Twomblys work in the flesh, as well as Paula Rego’s, which has definitely influenced my approach to this chapter.






2.2.3 Experiments with mixed media

2.2.3 Experiments with mixed media

The quantity of drawing materials that I am traveling with is growing constantly. Besides an A3 folder with white and black paper and various pens and inks and acrylic and colour pens and pencils, now also a bag of sticks and pieces of plastic washed up by the ocean 🙂

This is a first rather timid attempt at mixing various media, especially wanting to experiment with the oil pastels that are new to me.

When I saw this box of washing powder, I wanted to create a still life that had some character of an old fashioned advertisement panel, with flashy colours.


I placed the objects on the tile floor. Here I used coloured pencils for the floor, as I wanted it to be more faded, and tried out the oil pastels for the washing powder, the  orange bowl and sponge to let them be much more vibrant in color. Also the oil pastels let the colours blend, but don’t allow for as much detail as the coloured pencils. The I used coloured felt pencils for some scribbling in the shadows and the finer outlines , that were quite messy with the oil pastels.

In hindsight I wish I had cropped the drawing more like this ( but then the “advertisement  character” disappears).


I called this a timid attempt at mixing media, because in the end it was more an attempt at trying the new oil pastels with a few other media. I will be more bold in my next drawings .

In Portugal the sardines, and cans of sardines are almost a national symbol and you see them everywhere. I am attracted to the shape of the cans and at the risk of falling into a clichee I decide to build a still life around a sardine dinner. A bottle of wine, a piece of bread, a little plate of olives, while using as many different media as I can.


So drawing the cans was more challenging than I expected 🙂 I will get closer:

I will go for a view slightly from above, as if looking down on the food on a table, and shift to portrait format to avoid too much empty space on the sides. I try to crop to check if it would be better to get closer, but decide that I prefer to see the corner of the table for more context and depth. I plan what media to use where, considering the surface and character of the objects.


I use acrylic paint for the cans, they remain glossy and hard looking but the quite thick and not so detailed painted character softens the shape of the stacked cans. I draw the bottle with sap green, violet and white ink which is also glossy but still looks transparent.


I use turquoise and white ink with a brush for the background and then a bright pink felt pen for underlining documents for the flowers and stripes on the tablecloth.


I use the same kind of underliner pen in turquoise for the Tunisian glass, which allows it to  look flashy and transparent. The plate and olives are in oil pastels to render the glossy oily surface of the olives, and I smudged the plate that is more matte. Then soft coloured pencils for the piece of bread, entirely matte. Coloured pencils in purple for the shadows and then uniball pen on top for the deepest parts.

Not everything worked out as brilliantly as I had planned it here, but I am happy to have incorporated so many different techniques and media in one drawing that still looks coherent. I think the general composition is not thrilling, but works. Some parts , like the glass and the overlapping with the bottle are not well done. I like the cans most, although the shapes are far from correct. I hope I will have a chance to play with open cans, half open cans in a future composition somewhere. All in all it was fun to experiment with all media at once and it feels like this exercise opened up a lot of new possibilities.




2.2.1 Still life using line

Exercise 1 Still life using line

I have picked up some very interesting pieces from the beach, both natural objects like drift wood, and man made objects like pieces of plastic and strings that the ocean has washed back up on the shore. All the objects are in a range of blues and greens and would be beautiful for a monochrome drawing, but inspired by the example in the course book I decide to explore some of them for this exercise in drawing with line.

I want to use a beautiful turquoise ink I just got for my birthday, but start with some rough sketches in liner pen to decide on a composition.


IMG_4604I really like the shape of an old vacuum cleaner plastic pipe full of holes, and combine it with a string in a beautiful swirly shape. I prefer the last small composition- getting a little closer, but decide to remove the bottle cap and try it out in ink.


It is quite messy and confusing. I decide to remove the wooden plank I used as a background and just place three objects on a white background, to really make the shapes stand out instead. Fine liner pen in A5.


I like how quiet this drawing is compared to the last one, so decide to draw this in A3 with turquoise ink.


So this didn’t work out well at all. I was really struggling with the ink, trying both with a calligraphy pen and a feather with interchangeable tips. I just would’t flow, I had to scratch repeatedly just to get something out of the pen, and then a big blub. It seems the surface of the paper is too smooth or glossy, it works better on the A5 block. And besides struggling technically, the composition that seemed neat and harmonius in fine liner pen on A5 just looks boring here with lots of empty paper.

When I sketch freely it is mostly with line only, so I didn’t think this would be such a challenging exercise for me, but right now I am terribly disappointed at having spent a whole day!!!!! with such poor result, now that I finally had some time to dedicate to drawing, sigh.

Second trial for still life using line.

I am in a retreat setting this week, so not so much time and very few personal items around. But I have a stylish glass water bottle, some flowers and writing cards, add a pen and some matches and I am quite content with the composition that has a romantical, old fashioned touch to it and perfectly fits into the surroundings and mood here.

First checking the composition in black fine liner pen on A5.


It is a little too obvious, flowers at the centre and everything else around, so I decide to try with a larger angle to include a little hint of the room, and why black? Lets go pink. I have just bought a few Uniball liner pens in different colours as I read about them in Susan Askews blog in the OCA newsletter and had never heard of Uniball pens before. Also I place the whole composition lower to see it slightly from above.


I like this, it is more going on and the objects look like they just belong there. It is more a snapshot of a situation that a still life. Maybe pink is a bit much, I will try the blue Uniball pen on A3. I really like using them as there is no erasing, which is a new challenge for me.


So the A3 version did not really work out as well, the whole composition collapsed to the bottom a little. The water bottle got very crooked too. Also adding more detail took away the “line” character of the drawing too.

I want to try again in pink on A3. I like the pink, it fits the style and is really very new and different for me to use. But now I can’t for my life find the pink pen. I decide to have a go in orange, it is also really different, and has a similar luminosity to the pink one.



I scooped just a tiny bit closer so the view is slightly more from above. The water bottle worked better this time and I like warmth of the orange colour. I made a mistake with the cards and the table, seeing the table through the card, but looking at Yann Kebbis art work , he does that all the time! And so much about spontaneity and humour to learn from him too!

Still life using line 3

I really like the white ink drawing on black paper illustrating this exercise in the course book- so this is something I want to try out. I feel like I could love to draw in ink, I just haven’t figured it out yet.

I still have a lot of driftwood/strings/ stones and so on from my beach excursion , so I decide to try with that again. Checking how to draw some objects in blue Uniball pen on A5.


Now I switch to the A3 black paper and white ink.


Line only. I took a picture before I add the shadows as I am worried I might spoil it 🙂

The white ink on black paper is much smoother and more pleasant to draw with than my turquoise/white paper struggle. I have to figure out why.

Here with shadows:


No points for creativity here- it is really copying the example in the course book and not as well 🙂 But I really wanted to try out this technique and like it. I will definitely experiment more in this direction.

Here I try out a small wooden block and strings from the same beach excursion, and copper ink on black paper A3. I think the shine of the copper will look good on the black.


The photo doesn’t make justice to the copper, it looks really shiny and smart.

Here I really messed up everything trying to draw the shadows though, so glad I took a snapshot before 🙂 The shapes of the objects completely disappeared. I tried to colour them in purple ink to make them stand out from the background , but that covered most of the detail too.


Overall I feel like I learned a lot through this exercise. I tried new media- the inks , and Uniball pens. My backpack has gotten that much heavier again 🙂



2.2.2 Still life in tone using colour

Still life in tone using colour

For this still life I wanted to create a colourful composition with some natural and some man-made objects that would allow a variety of colour and tone.

I started with the pieces of the baguette, still on the wrapping paper , and then continued on this theme of a French simple dinner, adding fruits and carrots and an empty bottle of wine. I let the bottle and the wrapping paper continue out over the edge of the paper. I was planning to light it strongly from one side, but then decided that the dramatic effect of backlighting it with long shadows towards the viewer looked more interesting and created a beautiful shine around the bowl of apples and short cooking bananas.


A3 drawing paper with soft coloured pencils. The focus of this drawing was to identify and sketch in the different tonal areas, so I sketched in the shapes very ligthly and then went straight to using various coloured pencils. I did not work the outlines, but instead moved quickly with lots of different colours over every area, . My marks are of different shapes and patterns in many different layers of colour.

I am really happy for the energetic and spontaneous character of this drawing. I have a tendency to fiddle too long til the image gets stiff, and I think I managed to avoid that here. Also I have definitely learned something about colouring and I enjoyed mixing so many colours on every object. I really tried to look and let every colour I could percieve come through rather than think “apple is green and red” and limit myself at that.

I am happy with the colours and the spontaneous feel of this drawing.



I am in Portugal now , and wanted to create a still life with produce that I see here all around. It is the time of walnuts and pumpkins and an abundance of cheeses in the house. Lemons in all sizes and shapes as well as oranges are available at every fruit stand and I use them every day here . I chose to stick to lemons for the drawing because the shape is more interesting and as a hint to the lemon always present in the classical Dutch still life

Sardines is another recurring theme, but I will save that for another drawing.

All the objects are in a similar colour scheme this time -a range of orange and yellows, standing out from a quite cold grey/ bluish background: pumpkin, cheeses on a crumpled brown paper, lemons, walnuts.

I have been watching the You tube videos from OCA with examples of sketchbooks from other students and realize that I definitely lack planning and conceptual approach. So here I take the time to plan the composition more carefully.

I know I want to chose a slightly higher viewpoint to see the round cheeses from above, so I place the still life on a chair to the side of me.  Closer or further away? I want to see more of the chair to create a context, but add a towel casually thrown over the chair so it is not too much empty space in the back.

I move the light around so lighting is more from side/above than strictly from the side, as I like the shadow cast by the little stem on the pumpkin and the depth it adds to the drawing when the cheeses are half lit.

I chose to go on with the furthest view to make the chair really clear, and twist it a little to have a corner of the chair pointing to the corner of the page, which feels more dynamic.

A3 sketching paper and my brand new birthday Caran D’Ache Supracolor soft colour pencils.


I start by sketching in the outlines very lightly with pencil 3B as I just want to make sure the composition fits onto the page. Then I sketch in blocks of tone- first purple for the darkest  shades and blue for the midtones. I chose to use colours complimentary to the main orange/ yellow colours of the motive because that is what I see.


I continue with the pumpkin, just filling in colour upon colour as I see them, letting myself be surprised by the variety, and just sketching quickly and loosely .


I continue with the cheeses and a lemon and nut in the same way, just adding colours in all directionswith different lengths of marks. I really like this way of sketching. I like the way the “unfinished” parts of the drawing step back and the very colourful objects  stand out. It reminds me of Paul Cezannes work where he left some fruits unfinished and others coloured and I am tempted to stop here. I will keep this in mind for the drawings for the assignment- the interplay between finished and unfinished.


Here I completed drawing all the objects and JUST managed to overwork it all 🙂 It feels like I just added the few lines that makes it all a little too stiff and realistic.

I am worried to spoil it further by going on to the background…



In the end I like the contrast between the warm colours of the objects and the cooler tones of the background. It is far too realistic though and lost all spontaneity and messiness.

I spent 5 hours only  working with the coloured pencils, as I did the composition and rough outlines yesterday. So this is obviously too much. ( and the cheeses are getting very smelly).

I need to draw more spontaneously and rougher. I have watched the works of Ginny Grayson, Yann Kebbi and Edouard Vuillard as recommended by Joanne, and still this is how stiff it gets when I draw now. My next attempts will be to loosen up!

I have bought some oil pastels (my luggage is getting ridiculous!)  and will try using them by coming back to this theme of blocks of tone. I hope that the pastels that allow for less detail as they are larger than the colored pencils, will help me to draw less painfully controlled.  So oil pastels on A3.

Here a simple still life with a blue toned vase, some lemons and a very orange bowl.

I start by patching out the darkest tones in purple and the mid tones in a lighter blue:


I only realize after I did this that I chose the same colours for the darks and mid tones as in the previous drawing in colored pencil- this is how I see them if I look carefully.

I add the high lights in yellow:


Then I continue adding layers of all the colours I see. It is only when the yellow of the lemons mix with the blue and purple beneath that I realize that blue and yellow become very green and purple too brown. I needed to choose another lighter colour for mid tones.


I found it quite difficult and messy to work with oil pastels , but I really like the way all the colours blend. I will explore this media more and learn how to blend colours better to create the nuances I want.  I think this drawing fits the exercise better because with less detail, the patches of different tone become more apparent.