Assignment 1

For this first assignment, I had been thinking about a few objects which would be suitable as they needed to trigger a response but nothing was really presenting itself as terribly interesting. I was then handed a suitable topic by my daughter, who by way of apology for an explosive exchange of words and thoroughly inconvenient decision, gave me a bunch of tulips. I really don’t like cut flowers and her choice of this somehow made me feel even more distant from her than the original cause of the argument. At 17, she is betwixt childhood and adulthood both emotionally and geographically, living during term time with me in Sussex and the rest in Newcastle with her boyfriend; it can be a turbulent situation.

I referenced the Angry gestural marks from the first part of the course and after drawing the basic glass Kilner jar and the leaves of the tulips in charcoal, I made a quill pen from a pheasant feather and scratched the heads of the flowers in to the paper using red ink. It took about 10 minutes and I worked fast and instinctively.

I was then in a bit of a dilemma as although I felt it was a good drawing, it wasn’t a collection of a few items, as per the instructions. Or was it? Given that I had a jar and flowers?? I decided to contrast the angry tulips with something calming; the dog’s rope lead. I also felt something sweeping and flowing would look good compositionally against the spiky marks of the flowers. Using graphite putty to give a soft outline, I drew in the shape of the lead and it didn’t work at all.


I tried drawing a more detailed lead with the lines of the rope which I thought I could stick on below the tulips afterwards but I couldn’t do it and was getting more frustrated. I then decided to dispense with the tulips as a still life and do something different. However, nothing really appealed and anything else seemed rather pedestrian and didn’t evoke much of a response. Perhaps trying to do something calming against the emotive flowers wasn’t going to work so I wondered what else I could do alongside the tulips.

My other daughter suggested my tea mug – the one I use for my first cup in the morning when the house is quiet and I’m pottering around feeding the animals. I tried this with the slightly less angry tulips a day or two after the fallout:


I like this. I know the ellipses and general perspective of the cup and jar are off and a bit cubist but as the flowers are abstracted I didn’t see the merit in trying to make the rest of the drawing particularly accurate and potentially run the risk of losing the energy and personality. I am far more interested in lines and gesture than whether something is a perfect rendition and love the freedom and release of making marks on paper. I wonder if more dark would work as there isn’t a lot of contrast but I used natural light from the window on an overcast day so the light was quite diffused.

I used charcoal as I like the variation, which links the random element of the quill pen. I washed over some of the petals with water to smooth the lines, and likewise putty-rubbered the charcoal to render it a little more even.


Assessment criteria

Demonstration of technical and visual skills:

I like the subject matter and the general composition, and the combination of ink and charcoal. Quill pen gives a random aspect and a spontaneity to the drawing. Charcoal is a variable medium and as such the marks are going to be partly dictated by the particular make up of the willow stick used, which makes it interesting.  The perspective is off but I like the effect as my take on the brief was about mark-making with emotion.

The contrast could be greater which would add more drama. The tulip flowers are clustered at the top which looks a bit contrived and the background is rather homogenous. The highlights could be whiter and the shadows darker.

Quality of outcome:

I think it is an interesting drawing and the marks and materials used show a variation in the mood of the piece. I’ve captured a sense of emotion in the flowers as well as the smoothness of the charcoal denoting a sense of calm, and these were the two opposing elements were what I wanted to incorporate in the drawing. I hope I have communicated my ideas via my learning log in an accessible manner.

I did no preliminary sketches, although I tried some after the first tulip drawing to see if the dog lead would work. It was a reaction to a situation rather than a carefully constructed piece and it would have been very different had I chosen some items that I could arrange, alter and think about.

Demonstration of creativity:

This drawing shows a creativity and a certain amount of experimentation as the combination of ink and charcoal is not common. Home made quill pens are fun to use and give a good range of marks. I enjoyed doing it and I feel this is evident, and it is a drawing which is personal to me and feels authentic.

I could have been more adventurous with my mark making and the subject; I feel it lacks a bit of energy. Perhaps including some other items would have added interest or options for further exploration but as I said, I wanted to utilise the emotions I was feeling and hate objects they related to. I suppose there will always be a trade off!

Context reflection:

I’ve not done much research and this needs addressing, and I was very aware of being “assessed” which threw me mentally and gave me a bit of a block to start with – hence my decision to plough on and do the tulips whilst I felt some momentum rather than faffing around worrying about being judged. I am so new to the art world and constantly finding new rabbit warrens to explore and this needs to be quantified somewhat in my approach so that I can use what I’ve seen and learnt for my own purposes as opposed to just being something I like. I enjoy writing the learning log and I hope this comes through and represents my journey thus far. I also need to be more experimental with my sketchbook as at the moment it’s mainly full of chicken drawings!


3 Replies to “Assignment 1”

  1. Ah, teenagers in the house. That I can relate to. The tulips definitely feel loaded with emotion – I’m pretty sure I would have felt that without knowing the background to them. Particularly like the jar without distorted shapes, I think that is very successful.


  2. I love the tulips in your first drwing! They are full of emotion and expression. It makes them stand out by more than just the different colour and medium. A strong drawing!


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