Final Tutor Report – 5

Published May 22, 2013 by anniedicksonanartistsview

Tutor Report Form


Student name: Annie Dickson
Student number: 486851
Course/Module title: Painting 1: Watercolour Practice
Assignment number: 5


Page 1 of 5


Overall Comments

Thank you for sending your work for the final assignment.  I think your painting would benefit from more experimentation at the development stage and a greater amount of preliminary work in preparation for the final painting would allow you to select from a range of information rather than settle for your first idea.  I hope you will continue to explore ways to achieve your aim of working more loosely and I would encourage you to work on a larger scale as one way to try to do this. 


Feedback on assignment

The small tonal studies on a coloured ground which you made in your sketchbook have been successful as the shape of the chair and the strong shadows have a distinctive appearance with a noticeable pattern.  I also like your use of complementary colours for the areas of shadow.  Look at the painting of the shadows in Eileen Hogan’s painting of “Chair” to see how she has worked in a limited palette and broken up the large area of background with the shadows to create interest in this area of the painting.  The photographs in your blog seem to be of the sketchbook work and you should comment on how successful you were in working on the larger A3 size painting of this subject. 


I am glad to see that you were able to work outside for the painting of a landscape on a coloured ground.  It is interesting to read your logbook notes about your personal emotional response to the different colours used and how this affects your feeling about the atmosphere of the painting.  I don’t think you need to keep writing about how much you dislike landscape painting, as this has been made clear in several other sections of your logbook.  Perhaps you still need to consider your interpretation of what makes a landscape?


Page 2 of 5

Your preparatory sketchbook studies of your dog were useful in informing your work in exploring this subject in a variety of ways, especially as she would not stay still for very long.  Working quickly is good for you, as this method of working forces you to paint more loosely and therefore expressively.  These small studies avoid detail, but include enough information to capture the form and character of the animal and I think they are more successful than the larger paintings for this reason.  I agree with your note that you could have darkened the tone of the shadows underneath the dog in the larger paintings, as this would have created a better tonal balance in the composition. This exercise has given you an insight into how you can use different media together and I am glad to hear that you will continue to experiment with these in your work.  It was a good idea to continue with the same subject of the dog for the exercise in using mixed media on coloured and white paper.  As you discovered, it is difficult to use watercolour paint over charcoal, especially if you also use masking fluid as the action of rubbing this off will ‘muddy’ the charcoal if it has not been fixed.  I agree that your observation of tone continues to develop and there is a good range of tone in the body of the dog.


I am pleased to see you continued to experiment with the use of resists to explore effects for different textures, before deciding on a subject for the painting for this exercise.  You settled on the creel as a subject, and this gave you the opportunity to work from memory of the shapes and colours which helped you respond expressively to the subject for a more abstract approach.  In your blog, the photograph of the finished painting seems to be lighter in tone than the photograph at an earlier stage – have you mixed these up?  Look for more examples of artists working with resist techniques, such as ‘Figure’ by Sir Sidney Nolan.


For the exercise in making a collage from random elements, I think you would have learned more if you had worked on A2 size paper as suggested, rather than only A4.  You say that you did this as you don’t like to ‘waste’ paper but this decision restricted your ability to allow the paper to fall from a height onto the surface.  This exercise did not have to be carried out using your most expensive watercolour paper and it is never wasteful to explore the possibilities suggested to you.  Your second piece of work has responded well to the brief in staining large pieces of paper with watercolour paint and applying torn pieces of this with tissue paper and glue, although you have not given an indication of the size of this work.  I agree that this painting seems to be clear and fresh and you have been able to avoid overworking the image.  You felt that the composition lacked cohesion but did not want to introduce linear marks into the work, although you have not explained why.  You can see how collage and line have been used together effectively in ‘Mother and Child’ by Sandra Blow. 


Page 3 of 5

The use of torn photographs of the street of graffiti was a good idea to try to capture the feeling of the place and your abstract composition includes some interesting colours, textures and shapes.  What is the focal point of the painting and why do you think the work would have been better in acrylic rather than watercolour?  You explored some exciting possibilities for paintings in your experimentation with a viewfinder to magnify some of the photographs of the street of graffiti and I would encourage you to use this technique again to consider ways to find an abstract composition. 


For the exercise in free expression, you were asked to draw on subconscious thoughts, memories and associations to produce a work with no identifiable object.  Why did you include the word ‘Peace’ in your painting?  In doing this, you have forced the viewer to this interpretation, rather than allow a personal response to your painting.  The image appears to me as the rays coming from the sun and makes it seem like a recognizable object, rather than a feeling.  Your second painting of ‘Depression’ has not included the text, which allows the viewer more freedom to think about what your painting might mean.  I appreciate that this was a very personal painting for you and I am glad that you found it a helpful experience.  I cannot find your logbook notes about the exercise in working with music and you should include these for assessment.


Your preliminary work for the final series of five paintings appears to consist of two A4 charcoal studies, one A4 page of colour studies and five small watercolour studies of less than A5 size.  Three of these studies have been enlarged to create three of your five final paintings and it is not clear how the other paintings have been developed.  I would have liked to see more evidence of experimentation and development of the final paintings, especially to see how you arrived at the decisions about composition.  It is a good idea to make several thumbnail studies to examine different possibilities, rather than make one study and work only from that.  Your charcoal study of the wave is good and the painting from this has a sense of energy and movement.  You have been very successful in finding the colour to show the translucency of the wave.  Your use of masking fluid on a sponge helped to break up the edge of the wave to suggest foam.  Some of these shapes are rather circular and I think you could have gone a little further to add texture to this area of the painting – perhaps adding paint with the sponge, for a more flowing look to the water.  Look at the tonal range of the spray in “Under the Falls, the Grand Discharge” by Winslow Homer to see how he achieved this.


Your second painting is more abstract and is based on the made objects of the lobster pots rather than the natural form of the sea.  Although you took out some of the detail from the sketch, most of the string net has been kept which means that the objects still appear to be representational. 


Page4of 5

You say again that you think the final painting would have been better in acrylic or oil paint as you don’t think “painting abstracts this big” in watercolour is effective.  A3 size is not big and I would suggest that you look for examples of really large abstract paintings to see how any problem you perceive can be overcome.  “Torii” by Ian McKenzie-Smith is 61cm x 95cm, which is larger than A1 size and you can zoom in to this image on the Bridgeman website for a closer view.


Your third painting which is a larger colour version of the A4 charcoal study has been effective in observing the abstract shapes in a section of the water surface and the use of watercolour washes has been successful in creating a sense of movement in the water.  For your fourth painting, I agree that the first experiment was more successful in identifying which method of working with the watercolour pencils would be most effective to achieve your objective of looking at pattern in the still water.  You say that you were also exploring observation of tone in this painting and I think you could have gone further with this as, if you half close your eyes, you will see that this is a mid-tone painting.   I like your use of the limited palette and it was a useful experiment to scrub the whole surface with sandpaper to add texture.  Look at “Green Seascape” by Leon Spilliaert to see how he applied texture to the water surface. 


I am very pleased to see that you decided to take a more experimental approach to the final painting, using some of your experience of applying collage in earlier exercises.  This painting is based on a personal memory and I am glad that you enjoyed creating this piece of work.  It was a good idea to tear up the lyrics of the nursery rhyme to place the words randomly and make it impossible for the viewer to read the whole rhyme.  The title can be found, but it does not overwhelm the work and printing the text in the same colour palette as your paint helps to unify the collage with the watercolour.  This is a very different type of work for you and I feel that it captures the movement and energy of the sea very well.  I agree that your work shows progression through this course and the techniques you have explored will be a useful addition to your skills.  I would definitely encourage you to develop this method of working in future, as it will help you to explore a less traditional approach to working in the landscape.



You have only sent your small sketchbook along with three pages of your larger sketchbook to let me see the preliminary work for your final series of paintings.  Are you still working in your sketchbook on a daily basis to collect information and ideas?

Page 5 of 5

As already advised, you should also use the sketchbook as a resource to experiment with different media and I would have liked to see more examples of this work.


Learning logs/critical essays

I am glad to see that you continue to look for examples of paintings by contemporary artists, such as the mixed media work of Ruby Spam, Derek Russell, Carol Neilson and Chidi Okoye.  The collage work of Eileen Downes and Michel Keck are examples of how strong colour and tone can be achieved using torn paper on a coloured ground, with added mixed media of pen, ink or paint to add to the image.  In the written work on Modern Movements, you have made some written notes although this concentrated on Abstract, Suprematist and Constructivist art and could have been more extensive to consider Cubist, Dadaist, Futurist, Surrealist and Expressionist work.  As you progress to your next course, you will be required to give more consideration to the written work and should ask your tutor for guidance if you are unsure about this.


Suggested reading/viewing

Although you have now completed this course, keep looking at the work of other artists to study technique and how they have developed their ideas, particularly as you want to develop abstraction in your work. Search in the Bridgeman website for watercolour paintings in watercolour and mixed media, such as ‘Garn Fawr’ by John Piper, to help you move towards a freer and more expressive way of working.


Pointers for the next assignment

I am sure that you will continue to develop, to become more fluid and expressive in your painting as you gain experience and your next OCA course will give you the opportunity to build on what you have already learned.  Your work should be presented well for submission for assessment and I suggest that you should look at the video at presentation-and-organisation for tips and ideas.   If you need any further advice on how you might prepare your portfolio for assessment, please get in touch with me. 


Tutor name: Jane Mitchell
Date 11th May 2013
Next assignment due n/a Course Completed



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