Assignment One – Tutor’s Report

Recently I sent off my two assessment pieces and my sketch book to Julie, my tutor. Today I received an email with her report. Here are some of her comments:

Overall Comments

Well done John, you clearly have lots of enthusiasm for this subject and your blog is an interesting and amusing read.  You are researching other artists and recognizing themes and making connections – good.

I found your blog relatively easy to navigate, although I would suggest labelling your sketchbook work as well.

Your cross hatching techniques does need some work – I have mentioned below about using shorter, more controlled strokes.

You do need to experiment more with each exercise to fully explore your ideas and make decisions before you commit them to final pieces.”

Julie then commented on my work for each exercise. Here are her comments about my final two assessed pieces:

Feedback on assignment

Natural Forms:  there are some very nice elements to this: your mark making is delicate and you have sensitively described the natural forms, observing the various textures. I think the pen and wash works well and you have not overdone it, although the background is a little uneven.

Unfortunately the scale of the vase appears to be completely wrong – it seems to be tiny compared to the teasels inside and would surely topple over!

Also, as you noted the frottage border adds nothing and is just a messy distraction – I think a few more preparatory composition sketches would have helped in making the right decisions.

Made forms:  Once again you have chosen a very bold composition, and I love the idea of a modern day vanitas – this shows you are really thinking about the ‘why’ as well as the ‘what’. Compositionally the objects fit together and clearly there are no issues about you being able to fill the page properly!

However, the trouble with coming in so close to objects is that it requires an exceptional attention to detail, which your drawing lacks.  Everything appears a bit flat and blocked in – the pages of the book, for example, are not really described at all.  I would avoid fineliner on a really large scale as it is difficult to sustain coverage. Also, the colour washes don’t look quite right , some are quite bold, some very muted (and all are rather patchy) so it appears rather indecisive as to how much paint you intended to apply.

Still, it was a bold choice of composition – you just needed to follow it through with the right amount of attention to detail.”

Finally, blogs, sketchbooks and the future:


I think your sketchbooks are a little underdeveloped; you need to really explore all the possibilities of each exercise, preferably making some notes on the experimental works as you go along. Remember that an examiner will want to see that you have really explored and thought about each project as much as you can.

Your sketchbook is the place where you can let your ideas loose, so try and keep it with you as much as possible to grab any opportunities  in terms of inspiration and subject matter. You can include anything that inspires or interests you – you need to show you are thinking creatively and visually.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays 

You have been self reflective and created an interesting (and amusing!) blog in which you are honest about your thoughts and progress.

I think also that you have enjoyed researching artists and themes, and this has helped in your own choices (your ‘vanitas’ work, for example). You are visiting galleries, looking around at other artists and making connections. Keep analyzing and trying to work out what each artist or movement was trying to achieve – and keep up the good work!

Pointers for the next assignment

You will need to use some colour for the next exercises, so do experiment with a full range of mediums, but try and decide before you start each piece which medium you intend to use, to avoid overworking.  For example, if you intend to use pencil crayons, the shading should be done using the appropriate colours rather than creating a tonal pencil or charcoal drawing which you later colour in.

You will also be looking at natural forms and animals, so keep thinking about how to describe textures. Drawing animals is not easy but charcoal is probably the best medium because of its speed and versatility.

Keep your eye out for suitable subject matter and do some research on how other artists have tackled these subjects, both historically and in contemporary art. I would recommend the work of the sculptor Nicola Hicks when looking at animal drawings – her work in charcoal is superb. ”

Overall, Julie’s criticism and comments are fair, positive and encouraging. Now on with the second section!


About notes to the milkman

I'm a printmaker based in the North West of England, living in Bolton and printing at Hot Bed Press in Salford. Please visit my website
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3 Responses to Assignment One – Tutor’s Report

  1. seascapesaus says:

    Your tutor certainly gave in-depth comments John. It was interesting that she said let yourself go really free in your sketchbook. Could it be sketches for the milkman? You have put yourself on the line on-line and also shared the results! good on you!

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