5:07 PM, Monday August 3rd 2020
Overall your work here is well done, and you're demonstrating a good grasp of how your forms interact with one another in 3D space. There are however a few things I want to touch upon to help steer how you think about construction as a whole in the right direction.
To start, your arrows are looking good - they flow smoothly and fluidly through space, and this carries over quite nicely to all the linework throughout your leaves exercise. It's clear that you're leaning well into drawing with confidence, not a glimmer of hesitation in sight. This is however related to the main issue I want to point out in regards to your work as a whole. Fortunately this issue actually does get better over the course of the set, but whether that improvement comes just from general practice or from actual awareness of the issue isn't necessarily clear, so I'll explain it all the same.
Constructional drawing is all about making decisions, one by one, a mark at a time. Every phase of construction answers a question or solves a problem, and every subsequent mark/solution/answer needs to adhere to what was determined earlier, so as to maintain consistency and cohesion with it. For example, if we answer the question, "how far out do these leaves extend in space", and draw some mark to pin this down on the page, then we need to make sure that the subsequent leaves we draw adhere to this.
Looking at the maple leaf you drew - which is itself quite well drawn - you followed through the steps shown here, starting with establishing the overall extent to which all the different 'arms' of the leaf would extend. That said, where the demonstration had each leaf stop at the bounds of that outer shape, you were much more flexible and loose in the relationships between subsequent steps of construction. You allowed your leaves to extend beyond where it suited you better - perhaps to avoid things feeling cramped, perhaps to look more similar to a reference image, etc.
When it comes to construction, there will be circumstances where the construction steers you in the wrong direction, where something will end up looking unlike your reference, or where something will just come out feeling unlike what you had initially intended. You have, however, been steered, and to magically teleport to a different place entirely will create a gap in logic that the viewer will pick up on. They will see the contradiction in what the drawing tells them, and that contradiction will undermine their suspension of disbelief - or at least, it might.
Long story short, stick to the decisions made in previous phases of construction. Don't change them if they feel wrong. The fact that we're drawing on a piece of paper gives us immense control and freedom, but it is that very freedom which is the freedom to draw marks which undermine our goals. Instead, we're building and following a structure that keeps us on a certain course - the result may not be precisely what we were after, but the result will be believable and solid. And that is our goal first and foremost.
As a somewhat less dramatic extension of this similar kind of issue, I noticed that you were also quite loose in some of your drawings in terms of how your more complex edge detail adhered to the scaffolding laid out in a previous phase of construction. I talk about this issue here - basically you zigzag your edge detail back and forth over the simple edge from the previous phase of construction (and sometimes drift away from it). Always ensure that your marks come off that simple structure, then return to it, using a separate stroke for every individual bump. You're not redrawing the edge to be more complex - you're taking the simple edge that exists, and nudging it a little here and there to build that complexity upon it. In the circumstance where you drift away from it completely, the issue is that you're skipping steps - there needs to be a simple structure there for the more complex stuff to stick to, so that may require you to build out to that point, rather than to just go off on your own all at once.
What I've said already encompasses the majority of my critique - there are a couple other things I want to touch upon, but your plant constructions are largely very well done, and the room for improvement I see all relates to what I have already said.
The only other issues I wanted to point out are these:
For your branches, I'm noticing that you're not extending all of your segments fully halfway towards the next ellipse. This is important as it provides a greater chunk of that previous segment for the next one to use as a sort of 'runway', overlapping it directly so as to diminish those little visible tails and have the segments flow smoothly and seamlessly from one to the next. You can see this demonstrated here.
Watch out for some of your bigger ellipses - they tend to be more loose, which is entirely normal, but definitely does require more practice to tighten them up. Make sure you're drawing from your shoulder - your elbow can get you through a lot of smaller ellipses, but when you hit the bigger ones they can unravel like this.
It seems the vase/pot for your bamboo didn't come out too well - that's normal, we experiment with things and they don't always come out super well. Here however, it seems you may not have been thinking of the level of the soil itself, as you don't appear to have defined it with an ellipse of its own. This resulted in the bamboo itself looking as though it floats in relation to the vase, making it feel spatially unstable. Vases/flower pots and all they entail tend to involve a lot of concentric ellipses, and you certainly made a good attempt here to pin them down. Obviously getting your larger ellipses under control will help you out a great deal, but I can see the steps you took (using a minor axis was a very good move, though you should have extended it further upwards). It was a good attempt, it just didn't pan out this time.
For the chin cactus drawing, just a minor point. You outlined your little pebbles/gravel, which was not a great move. Instead, it'd have been better to draw them using textural, implicit drawing techniques, as covered back in lesson 2. To a point I think you were aware of this, but you ended up leaning into outlining them entirely rather than focusing on cast shadow shapes only, which is an important part of tackling texture. Don't draw lines - only draw shadow shapes. This is obviously difficult, but improving on this front requires you to leave the outlines alone.
Aside from these points, you've done a very good job and have shown a solid grasp of spatial reasoning and how all your forms exist together within the same space. Keep up the good work, and consider this lesson complete.
Feel free to move onto lesson 3.