Deciding that I needed to loosen up with some coloured pencil, oil pastels and a new calligraphy set I have purchased.  Still working out the calligraphy set…  Reading ahead and seeing that I need to buy some coloured markers.  I need to investigate options and ph some art shops.

Then finding tone and depth with sea shells.

Tone and depth in detail, A4 – ‘Shell’

Tone and depth in detail, A3 – ‘Shells’


Here she is… Mum knitting in my kitchen.


This week I printed out most of my learning log posts and began to sort them with letters from the OCA and emails from my two tutors.  Then I printed out my library loans from the same period and began to cut and paste.  Leaving room for comments on books and exhibitions.  Room to critique and discuss how I was being moved forward by these things.

I am a visual person.  I can see where I am going and it has been a lot easier accessing this data in a hard copy.

It was also helpful to see the gaps where I could have written a lot more critically and included more art study.  It is going to be worthwhile to fill those gaps in.

I have all the library books I used and others I bought for art in this time period and have them arranged on the floor to copy illustrations from and discuss.

And I am enjoying doing it, though I will miss spell-check and the ability to edit on-screen!

I’m seeing the need to

  • Show a path of thinking:

‘The logbook should give the assessors an indication of the way the student’s mind works rather than simply be a record of the projects done…an indication of how the student has engaged with the course and the learning process; have they really thought around the subject? Have they reacted to their tutor’s comments? Have they looked beyond the course material?’

  • Reflect on what I view, read and draw

‘a separate sketchbook as well as a reflective journal/logbook’,

posted by Peterjh OCA

  • Show response to tutors input and include that .
  • Have a wider response to art than merely practicing the craft of drawing

‘Response to tutorial input, and that tutorial input itself so make sure you include it, is very important as is the student’s wider range of interests, do they just do the exercises and assignments or do they go to exhibitions, read relevant books, trawl the internet, explore theory and so on’. Peterjh OCA

  • Self assess and respond to other artists

‘the logbook is also the place for self-assessments and for thoughts and notes about other artists that might be relevant to your work.’ folio OCA

  • Include failures.  They are just as valuable in the learning process.  Maybe more so if I can understand and include ‘why’ and ‘how come’ and ‘how can I learn from this’.

‘For your Learning Log, put anything in there that illustrates your learning progress. The failures can be just as, if not more, important than the successes – just be sure to include what was learnt from the mistakes, such as why you consider a particular image to be a ‘screw up’, and how it might have been bettered.’

  • Consider changing to a paper log.  It may be just as much work.  At least here I have spell check!

‘we don’t in any way place a higher value on online/digital blogs. Paper-based learning logs are perfectly acceptable’.

Paul Vincent OCA

  • Consider Primary sources and Secondary sources for art research. (What this means is below.)

‘Log books should really contain your research on artists, your personal evaluation and evidence of using both primary sources and secondary resources for research. Primary resources means looking at actual work in galleries/museums/stately homes or your first hand response to that work. Secondary resources are taken from books, the web, television documentaries etc.’

  • Include what is relevant to written research

‘Logbooks can contain annotations and drawings by students but this will usually be relevant to the written research. Sketchbooks on the other hand are your visual diaries full of thoughts,experiments,observational studies, thumbnail studies -even poems.’ courseleaderRL OCA

  • Show how I think, how I learn.  Then how I put that information into my work.  How what I research informs my craft.

‘write loads about your reaction and interpretation to pieces of music, not just doing lots of links with no personal content, if you know what I mean. They want to see how you think and how you learn – ie how you put what you’ve listened to or watched into your own work’. goldfish OCA

I am still working through what I need to do and what my tutors report means I need to do… And it’s what an OCA booklet guide suggests.  Keep checking back on my response.

I am reading through all the OCA booklets again.  Ah, they make more sense after some constructive criticism!  I almost think that there is so much to take in that I wonder if anybody gets it right the first time.  But I’m sure some do.

Thoughts at present:  This is more than just a drawing course.  I will need to read and interact with text.  Visit and discuss responses to other artists work.  Write up about the artists I am watching on Sky Arts channel.  Explore how and where that takes my journey.

As I see what I have missed out in my learning log I am more open to understanding the criticism…  And how valid it is.

  • Check and log sections. I could document better. What have I learnt?  How I will use this new information.  How this will help me progress?
  • Other artists; thru books, Sky TV arts channel, gallery’s, discussing the context of their work in the history of art and how their work may relate to my own.
  • Added extras: cuttings, scores, postcards, current thoughts on art or particular craftsperson and why they/it intrigues me.
  • Tutor information.  Ah…  Where would I file my reports?  My emails?

Looking at Matisse AND seeing if I can use website images to create other artists posts on my blog…

I love the strong line Matisse uses here.  It encourages me to be confident and look carefully, but draw sparingly.

He shows a form and shape that I find compelling.  I am looking forward to reading more on Matisse and how that will inform what I do.

© The Bridgeman Art Library – London, New York, Paris.

I have decided that I am a rather un- IT person.  It takes me a lot of time to put very few pictures on.  I have been reading the OCA booklet about what else I need to include in my learning log.  I have so much work to do.  Reading about other artists.  Photocopying their pictures.  Writing my responses to others work and how that moves me on.  I think I will be better doing this on paper.  I am thinking I will change my learning log and take it off this blog here.  At this point I don’t know if that means copying all my present ‘check and log’ pages.  But I think it means I will spend more time writing about art and reading about art and drawing art, rather than working out what I have done wrong this time on the computer that it won’t upload something.  Having to search for photos on the web sounds a lot harder than using photocopiers.

I like making scrapbooks/ journals.  I like writing in them.  I have written in a personal journal off and on since I was a teenager and I do one already for  my watercolour.  I started that 3 years ago and it has served me well.  I am just starting my 7th watercolour visual diary now.  I can easily refer to them for how I did something, thoughts on what impressed me, and as I stick in my art work too, I now can see improvement, change and growth too.  They are good reasons to make a change to a paper learning log.  The biggest reason I think is that I will find it easier and so more time efficient.  I think…. probably….  Still deciding…

My focus was on at how to describe the figure using line and shape.  Also thinking about how to describe the movement/action of the knitting or reading.  I was pleased with the action that comes through in my first two black pen drawings. And I loved drawing the shoes.  The head and arm size was in question.

First line drawing, black pen

Second line drawing, black pen.

I know I need to consider getting the head, arms proportion..  Record the inherent gesture / action.  I will use all this as information to work on another drawing.

Looking at shape, tone and angles rather than the objects.  I tried similar objects to the first bread and cheese, then branched into glass containers loving the light and vague shapes coming through them.  Finally I tried my handbag, emptying the articles that were in it.

Trying glass containers and kitchen items

Trying out handbag and items sketches

Trying out kitchen containers

Sitting in the sun for 3-4 hours meant that the sun moved and the shadows changed. I didn’t realize how valuable looking back at the photo for light reference would be.  I will try to use lamps for longer works.  For now, I need to redo this study with a fixable light source.

Drawing in the sunshine at the beginning of the day

Drawing for ‘Man-made’ Assignment, A3 loose paper, charcoal and coloured pencil

How I drew these two different pieces.

I drew the man-made objects first.  I was very nervous about my first piece.  The first loose sheets I used.  Yes, I did all my exercises in a large A3 Visual Diary.  I remember feeling great that the objects looked like what they were.  Visualising each object singly. I came back to it over days to work on.  Having sprayed the drawing, it was hard to do anything about the niggles I had re circles and ellipses, particularly with the wine glass.

The natural object piece of cabbage and peppers was done quite differently.  This was helped by my being under a table for most of the day with a lamp on one side and a cloth on the other to stop any other light bouncing on.  So I looked for light and dark, not individual objects.  I was more confident working on a loose sheet now having done it for the other piece.  I did the main piece over one day, getting up for morning tea and lunch!  The media for the preliminary drawings, (charcoal and pen & ink) was used loosely and quickly though carefully.

What worked and what didn’t?

The second piece with the cabbage worked while the first with the man-made articles didn’t .  Why not?

What did I do wrong?  What could  I do differently now?

I read somewhere in a golfing book that the practise shot is often a better shot so an idea around that is to tell yourself, ‘this is a practise shot, and your arms will loosen, your brain clear.  You will enjoy the shot for what it is and not fixate on the dilemma of pass or fail, good or brilliant… or whatever…your interanal judge says to you.

But my first preliminary (practice shot), drawings and my piece didn’t work so well here.  What did I do wrong?  I worried. I worried about putting in my first assignment.  I fixated on the objects.  I really liked my objects.  And I really liked the composition.  As opposed to the cabbages which aren’t my favourite vegetable… where I just played with the veggies till I got an interesting play of light, angles and shapes.  Ah, that is it.  Next time, I’ll chose ‘anything’ objects and draw them looking for interesting light, shape and angles rather than carefully choosing ‘romantic’ objects and compositions.

Also, I need one light source, be relaxed and focus on drawing rather than … and confidence using loose sheets.  I’m working on loose sheets now.  And I can use the lamp more.  And it will help to do what Jim suggests… “Try not to see each part of the course as separate but as a whole with aspects that relate and have a developmental thread.”

What worked for me ?

What also worked for me with the cabbages was the use of line. Line in the preliminary drawings and in the final piece.  I am finding I really like drawing line rather than tone.  I find a freedom doing that.  It doesn’t have to be pencil.  That I’d rather pick up a black pen or charcoal than a pencil and just start to draw.


To look at light (tone) , shape and angles rather than objects.

Use large loose paper confidently.

Use a lamp.

Listen to my niggles.

Think of assignments and exercises as stepping-stones.

I'm an artist, teacher, percussionist, and mother currently studying for an Honours BA in Creative Arts with OCA, UK.