Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Tutor Report following Assignment 1

Tutor Report Form

Student name:
Syliva Philpot
Student number:
Course/Module title:
Painting 2: Exploring Concepts
Assignment number:

Overall Comments

Thank you for forwarding the work for your first assignment, together with the preliminary work and your logbook and sketchbook.  I also looked at your blog which seems to contain exactly the same information as you sent as paper copy.  As you intend to continue to keep your logbook as a blog, there is no need to send the paper copy in future, as I can continue to access the blog to look at your logbook notes and research.  As you intend to submit your work for assessment at the end of the course, I can confirm that your painting,  together with the accompanying written work, is of a good enough standard to do so.  I am pleased that you were able to work to the target date we agreed and you have tackled the exercises methodically.

Feedback on assignment

It is unfortunate that you forgot to include any of the still life paintings in your parcel of work, which means that I have had to rely on the photographs you emailed to me.  These do not give me an idea of the scale of your work - did you paint these actual size or larger than life?  Your watercolour painting of a small object in detail is successful, as the apple appears to be solid and three-dimensional.  For the second painting, it was a good idea to light the group of objects from different sources in order to create interesting shadows and the composition is well considered.  I would have thought that the range of tones could have been greater, if aiming for a realistic painting of detail.  If you half-close your eyes, you will see that this is a very light toned painting, without great depth to the shadows.  You say that it was difficult to obtain a really dark hue, but it should be possible to create this in watercolour, as seen in Karen Armitage’s painting ‘Anemones in Green Glass Vase’. 

For the painting based on a dream, I agree that the second painting is closer to the brief, with some of the elements of the styles of Dali and Tanguy and a healthy amount of humour. 

Although you say that you have made comments on the OCA website about the iconic nature of traffic lights, you will need to refer to this in your logbook notes to explain your thought process, especially as they reappear in your work.  The assessors will not be looking at the student forum for evidence of your development of ideas.

For the photomontage project, I am pleased to learn that you have used this experience to consider a new creative way of developing ideas and juxtaposing images.  Watch for the occasional typing error which can creep into your notes, e.g. your reference to the screen print of Richard Hammond instead of Hamilton – perhaps it was the car perched on the top of the iceberg in your final image that led to this slip-up?

Your painting from a photograph has been successful, although you had some difficulty due to the different sizes of your photograph and canvas.  This is where working on canvas board is restricting and a paper ground is much more practical as you can crop the paper to the exact size you need.  You managed to overcome the problem well and your imagined section of the leaves is seamless.  You have been able to mix the colours well, using acrylics to get close to the colours in the photograph.  Although you found this to be a stultifying and mechanical process, it is important that you understand how this is achieved and there may be occasions when you will find it helpful to use this method when scaling up an image.

With regard to the photorealist painting from a projected photograph, it is very unfortunate that you did not read the brief correctly and produced such a small painting.  However, you have produced an interesting painting from the photograph of the girl taken from the television.  You say that you found it difficult to achieve the graininess and it may be that working on a larger scale would have helped.  As discussed in our email correspondence, if you decide to submit this particular piece of work for assessment, you should paint another version on A1 to show that you have been able to project the image and increase the scale.

I would suggest that you think more about how you use your sketchbook, as sections of it at present appear to be more like a scrapbook, with the exception of the well observed figure sketches.  The sketchbook is your visual diary, used to explore ideas for compositions and to make drawings of subjects you will incorporate into paintings.  It is not clear why you have included so many large photographs and newspaper articles without any accompanying notes on their relevance to your work.

For your first seasonal painting of ‘Spring’, I hope that you enjoyed working through all of the exercises.  You certainly rose to the challenge of responding to the idea of spring cleaning in a comical way.  The pastel and mixed media drawings have great energy and you were successful in conveying movement. 

Your experiments in Pointillism have also been successful and you discovered the importance of modulating the size of the dots and considering colour combinations very carefully.  Your small landscape has depth and allowing the colour of the paper to show through has provided harmony.  You have used oil pastel much more sparingly for the pointillist approach to the vase of daffodils, but you have done enough to show the form of the vase and the flowers.  The direction of the light source is clear and I would agree that both of these images create a feeling of spring.  You also sent me a large pastel drawing of the same subject and I agree that this has the vitality you were aiming for.  With regard to replacing your white pastel, it is worth investing in good quality materials – and you will have learned to keep a record of the name of the manufacturer and the colour code in future. 

It was a good idea to select the subject of crocuses for the exercise in spontaneity, as you have been able to create an impression of these flowers in the grass, without a lot of detail.  This small A3 acrylic painting has a great deal of energy, but I would have liked to see what you could have achieved if you had made this painting A2 size as suggested in the text.  You are not expected to work on a large scale but at present the 30cm x 40cm boards you are using for the exercise work (approximately A3) is particularly small and I think your work would benefit from increasing the size of your paintings.

I am glad that you are inspired to produce extra paintings such as the small landscape in the style of Van Gogh, as well as those suggested in the course book, but you should not send these to me as part of your assignment work.  There are also three mixed media pieces which I cannot link to any of the projects or to your notes, so I have returned these without comment.

For the final painting, I have not been able to find any of your preliminary work, either in your notes or on your blog, to let me see how you developed this idea.   You say that you produced a sketch for the large painting, but you have not included this and it is essential that you let me see this work for future season paintings.  There is one rough thumbnail study in your sketchbook, but this is similar to the final painting and does not show any alternatives you considered.  How did you decide on the format of a square and the structure of the composition?  You say in your notes that you amended this for the final painting to give a more circular composition, which was a good decision, and I would have liked to see more evidence of this learning process.  Although you have written plenty of notes to explain how you made the link to spring, I did not realise that this was your seasonal painting until I read this in your notes.  At first glance, I had assumed this to be your painting of a dream as I did not pick up any reference to spring, with the exception of the pale pink blossom.  You say that you used contrasting yellow and blue for the main colour palette as ‘spring’ colours, but I did not react to this colour combination as you had intended.  These colours have an intense hue and my first reaction was that this painting was set in an arid desert landscape, suggesting more of a ‘summer’ palette.  Perhaps the dandelions mature considerably later in Scotland as I have never considered the dandelion ‘clock’ to be a spring scene.

It will be some weeks yet before the seeds can be dispersed – although I appreciate that you were using this as a symbol of time.  You say that you struggled to blend the acrylics but I hope you will persevere in using this media as you will gain confidence through experience. It is encouraging to read that you have developed an interest in Surrealism as a result of your research and the ideas you have included in your painting are well considered.  I particularly like your explanation of the different faces of the children.

Learning logs/critical essays

It is helpful for me to see your learning log notes giving your own thoughts on your progress through the course, in particular your responses to the ‘Check and Log’ questions.  It is very good to see that your research into the work of other artists also looks at contemporary artists and includes your personal response to their work, not simply biographical information.  Your notes are comprehensive and well illustrated and I can confirm that you are on the right track with this part of the course and you should keep working in this way. 

Suggested reading/viewing

I am delighted to see that you are carrying out such a considerable amount of research into the work of other artists, particularly on Surrealism.  There was an excellent exhibition of Surrealist art in Edinburgh last year and you will find information of the artists included at www.nationalgalleries.org - enter ‘Another World’ in the site search.  For the next assignment dealing with the figure and the self portrait, keep following up the references to the artists suggested in the course book and try to find contemporary examples of figure drawing and painting, such as ‘Retrospect’ by Graham Flack which is approximately 3 metres square. 


I hope that you are enjoying the course work and you should be encouraged by the results you have achieved so far.  It is only necessary to send a selection of your work from all of the exercises in each assignment, rather than all of it, to let me see how you are making progress.  It should be possible to reduce the weight of your parcel quite considerably and I will email separately to offer advice on this.  It is absolutely essential that you put your name and student number on the back of each piece of work.  I will suggest a target date of 31st July for Assignment 2, but if you have any difficulty with this suggested timetable, please let me know. 

Tutor name:
Jane Mitchell
10th April 2011
Next assignment due
31st July 2011

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