Friday, March 15, 2019

Mark Making

Just over a month ago I was writing up a grant proposal. I was inspired by some research I did on the subject of mark making. I had noticed a lot of artists on Instagram mentioning mark making and I was curious what was going on. Every time you put pen to paper or a brush to the canvas you are in fact making marks, so I was intrigued by the way it was being to referred to in this special way.

My research led me to fascinating information about the Les Automatistes,  a group from Quebec founded in the 1940's  by Paul-Émile Borduas. I explored the concept of automatic drawing which is "(distinguished from drawn expression of mediums) {and}was developed by the surrealists, as a means of expressing the subconscious. In automatic drawing, the hand is allowed to move "randomly" across the paper." This reminded me of Hilma af Klimp and her work, which I had seen in a documentary.
The information that really excited me as a life long educator was something I found in an online lesson on mark making written by Edward Burke. In his lecture notes on Direct Mark Making By Hand he wrote “each of us already has a unique set of marks and gestures that are innate, in muscle memory and should be embraced and expanded upon.”

I decided to get a new sketchbook and embrace and expand upon my personal mark making. I also want to explore using different tools for mark making so I picked up some charcoal sticks and oil pastelles as well as some acrylic inks.

I've usually done traditional drawing in my previous sketch books. This one is a multi media paper so I can paint in it too. I plan to document some of my mark making here on my blog, so look out for some in future posts.

One of my first explorations using charcoal sticks. Soft and light pressure and different thicknesses of line. Also some smudging. It is fun to use curved and straight lines as well.

I also bought myself a beautiful ink brush and just love using it to make spontaneous marks. The trick is to not think and pre-plan what you want to do. It is letting go of control and just going with the flow of the paint, tapping into that personal muscle memory.
I shot I few videos of my first experiments with the brush and some watered down black acrylic paint.

These are the results of the first work one some papers torn from a larger sketch book that was nearly full. 
 After working on the loose pieces of larger paper I did one in my sketch book to have a record of this first exploration. I want to document my journey into all aspects of mark making.

 After doing these simple paintings which I love, I decided to try some other mark making with self created tools. I cut some notches into a piece of card and intuitively moved the paint with it.

This type of mark making creates a dynamic and high energy piece.
I have been working on a very large painting on an unstretched canvas on the wall. It has gone through several layers and I am happy with what is unfolding. I wanted to create a brush like base to the abstract mountain/rock formation. I suddenly had an inspiration to use some of the fallen cedar and pine boughs that came down in the wind storms we have had recently here on the island. I used these as brushes for making marks on the painting by dipping them into the paint and hitting them against the canvas on the wall. 
Cedar and pine bough brushes.
The marks made by the bough brushes.
 This painting is still a work in progress as I am scraping more layers of paint off the top section and have more painting to do along the bottom section. Once it is done I will be stretching it onto a frame. It is 48"x 72"

Thanks for joining me in this journey. Any comments are really welcome.

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