Mark making

I’ve finally just about completed the first stage of my mark making. It seems to of taken forever (about 20 hours), maybe because it’s been more enjoyable than I expected, as I’ve loved experimenting with lots of different mediums.

PENCIL (1)
I found this a bit tough, partly because I guess it was the start, but also because I found it hard to make marks in relation to words. I can see how scribbles can be fast and careful lines be slow, but that’s about it. So instead I just concentrated on making different kinds of marks, and using different pencils to get a variation of light / dark colours.

GOUACHE (2 & 3)
I haven’t painted before, so it was interesting to play with paints for the first time in ages. It was particularly useful to experiment with watercolour and gouache, maybe seeing for the first time the differences in the 2 mediums. The gouache was much easier to make marks with because of its consistency. It’s thick enough to see brush strokes, but can also be watered down and used as a wash like watercolour. The splats held their shape much better than the watercolour attempt, and the dots much more defined – even when they kinda merged together.

After doing the mark making in the confined space in image 2, I had to have a go with mixing the paints with some acrylic gel and spreading them onto paper using an artists knife. It felt liberating spreading the paint really thick and mixing colours together. I love the textures the paint made when being spread… in the bottom left corner, the light blue paint was thick in some parts but just skimmed across the paper in others. They also mixed really well, without becoming that horrible shade of brown, you can get when colours blend together.

WATERCOLOUR (4, 5, 6 & 7)
The watercolour experiment was much more delicate, and felt slightly harder to get defined marks than using the gouache. I found the paint was harder to control and bleed out of the squares very easily. I was interesting to see the difference between water paint down to make a lighter colour and adding more layers to make a darker colour. I also liked the effect with salt (although I should have waited longer to dry) where it removed paint when covered in salt – a similar effect as with silk painting.
N.B. I must be more patient when using watercolour and remember to leave the paint to dry when needed.

I was interested to see the effect (tube) watercolour paint would have when used neat, so i squirted loads of colours onto a paper palette and then printed it on another sheet. The colours kept their shades well, although not as defined as the gouache… and there were a few places where that awful brown appeared!

The effect of printing neat watercolour was much more effective after I had printed it several times and there was less paint. This print is very wispy and you can almost make things out hidden in the marks. I think it has the right balance of colour and shade.

I’m not sure if this image is cheating as I got help? Me and my little girl Ostara (just turned 3) decided to pretend out fingers were feet, and do footprints all over the page. Sometimes the animals had 2 feet, sometimes 4. Others hopped, and a few even slided across the page. What started out as something to entertain her actually turned out really interest, with a beautiful mix of colours and shapes.

PAPER (8)
In this image I used a variety of mediums (oil pastel, watercolour, gouache, felt tip and pencil) on 7 different papers. What actually surprised me is how similar each of the medium samples were. The crepe and tissue paper obviously added a bit of roughness to the samples, but only really showed using the felt tip and pencil. The waxy kitchen paper didn’t make much difference, which surprised me as I thought it would really resist the mediums. The glossy card was the most interesting, with the oil pastels and pencil going on really smoothly (making the sample really dark and smooth) and the felt tip being resisted (making the sample thick but blotchy).

FELT TIP (9 & 10)
The felt tip samples were maybe a little more interesting than I thought they would be, with the smudging and ability to blend the colours together. They are good for solid well-defined marks, with bright vivid colours.

This image is another cheat. Ostara spent about an hour making hundreds of coloured dots using my felt tips. It’s often the most simplest (less thought about) designs that work the best!

MIXED MEDIA (11)
This is a combination of lots of different mediums. The graphite is very similar to the pencils I used previously (in image 1), but gave a much darker effect. The willow charcoal made strange marks by being very dark but kind of softer, almost as if it had been smudged.

I used oil pastels to do a blended sample, but I find them uncomfortable to use, as they feel too sticky. So I chopped a few bits off the end of each pastel and melted them, just to see what would happen. They melted nicely and gave a similar effect to the neat watercolour (image 6). However they gave the most amazing texture (but worse smell) when they got really hot and started bubbling. Excited by this 3D texture, I added some nail varnish dribbles … which have a gorgeous thickness and gloss. The cream one was also pearlesent, which gave an extra dimension.

RUBBINGS (12)
I took these rubbings on Ilfracombe High Street on the 100 metres to my mums house. I went out (pretending Ostara wanted to do it, to stop me looking mad) with the intention of finding some interesting things on the way, but became fascinated with the variety of drain covers! These rubbings were just a small sample of the variety of shapes, sizes and patterns we found.

I like this sheet the best of all the mark making, and think it would make a great picture as it is, or even screen printed onto a t-shirt.

PRINTS (13 & 14)
I used a variety of things around the house to make some prints using gouache paint. The lime was probably a little too wet, but I loved the effect. I also love the feather print, which came out really well, showing lots of detail. The rolling marble may have had a better effect had I put the paper in a tray, rather than tried rolling it on the paper – without it falling off. It would be interesting to repeat this using a tray and lots of marbles with different colour paint.

These simple prints were made using a rabbit stencil cut from a plastic folder, and grass stamp cut out of foam. Both were pretty hit and miss, but would have looked cute done properly.

COLLAGE (15)
This simple collage was made from randomly sticking things I found around the house, mainly leftover from Easter. I love the contrast between the snowflakes cut out carefully and deliberately, and torn tissue. I also love the effect of overlapping tissues, and wonder if overlapping red and yellow would make orange …?

OIL (16)
I found oils very difficult to work with, mainly because I’m a messy worker, and they are a nightmare to clean … as well as taking ages to dry. However they do add a really interesting varied texture to paper. I particularly liked the onion print, which came out really thick and 3D in some parts. I also enjoyed the way the oil paints react differently to others, and the accident I had blending oil and gouache had a very unusual outcome.

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