Saturday 4 March 2017

Mark-Making Exploration

John and I had a fun day in the studio recently. We both wanted to do a bit of experimental mark-making, to explore new ideas. John is looking for inspiration for his printmaking and I thought it would be interesting to play with marks and compositions which could be the starting points of new drawings or which might possible translate into textiles.

We gathered lots of tools and then made a few new ones, looking for anything which would make an unusual mark if dipped in paint:

We decided to stick to black and white, so we could concentrate on marks and tone. I mixed up a tub of black acrylic and got out some Platignum Calligraphers Black Ink too (a good non-waterproof ink, as it separates into pretty colours when wet, rather than just going grey).

I found an oil bar and some liquin too, which is great for smearing not just oil bars but also oil pastels. Plus a Derwent Inktense block and grater (tiny gratings can be scattered onto wet paper or sprayed with water for speckled effects). We both put on latex gloves and set-to on a big piece of cartridge paper each.

It was such fun - no pressure to make something which 'works', just pure experimentation. This was my first sheet:

I am particularly interested in randomness, so many of the new tools we made were designed to make the marks more hard to control. To add to the random element, we both cut up our sheets into equal pieces, using pre-decided measurements, not aesthetic judgement to create the sections:

I like the way it changes things when you isolate a section. The emphasis on the various elements changes, because of the enforced edges, and you start to get interesting things happening with composition.

On my 2nd sheet, I started with some large marks in a grey emulsion, to create a new element of contrast. I made a new tool too - a piece of corrugated card to print with. You can see the marks top right:

I cut this one into squares. As the paper's dimensions didn't divide exactly into squares, this allowed me a slight element of judgement, as I could move the composition of any square a centimetre or two to the left or right. I then selected the best 6 squares from the 9 created.

These are my favourites. It's surprising how well they work just as they are, but you can also see how they could be taken into print or textiles. It would be fun trying to find ways to reinterpret the marks and tones in the different medium.

I can highly recommend this as a very enjoyable way of exploring new techniques and getting new inspiration. The randomness is important though, as a way of forcing you not to be too controlling and letting unexpected things happen.

John did some experiments using blotting paper, which he tore into strips. Even the offcuts were interesting, which I saved as we were clearing up. The beautiful blue is the Platignum ink:

Even my offcuts were quite interesting:

Have a go. Even before we got drawing, it was good fun making the tools from odds and ends we found around the studio, taping them to bits of stick and then finding out what marks they made.


Kathi said...

This is a very interesting experiment...those squares are lovely and my immediate thought is to add stitching to them. I may have to try some of my own, thanks for sharing!

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