Part 1a Mark Making

Mark Making

Mark making is one of those things that you rarely find time to do when you’re in the middle of commissions, so this topic area was almost a treat.

Holding pens and pencils

We start by looking at ways of holding the pen or pencil that you’re using and exploring the different marks that you can create.

Starting with a sweep

Again this is something that I’m not aware of as I’m drawing as it’s a thing you do naturally as you draw a definite line or shade a particular area.

I started this exercise with a long curved sweep of charcoal and very soon became lost in a collection of marks made by charcoal, pastel pencils, drawing pens, pencils and a putty rubber.

Marks created by a variety of art media in different ways
Mark making No.1

Mark making techniques

This exercise drills a little deeper and allows you to focus on the marks you can make with particular materials and on different papers.

Mark making 1 uses a variety of pens and pencils on white cartridge paper.


So here is the first tool I chose – an ordinary black Biro.

Black Biro

I like the boldness of this; the black is very black against the white paper.  There are a surprising range of tones you can achieve depending on how hard you press with a biro.

The top left hand corner has a section of scribble which createa nice wiry texture.  I also used scribble on the bottom left, but in a much more controlled way so that the finished result almost looks like some sort of loose-loop weave.  There are also various forms of hatching in the square, some darker than others created by repeating strokes over the previous strokes.  the bottom right is an interesting mark created by holding the pen like a pendulum at right angles to the page and letting it scrape across.  My favourite element of this square is the thick band of black and white globules.  It looks like some alien bloodstream.  Not sure why I like this…..It may be the contrasts and the suggestion of form in the circles.

Next I tried a Fountain Pen

Fountain Pen with black ink

This was a black Parker fountain pen that I normally use to write with.  It gives a very different black colour to the Biro and I thought that it would be difficult to draw with, but it was very smooth.  It certainly doesn’t lend itself to hatching and scribbling like a Biro though.  I found that I had to draw definite shapes and lines to create the textures, but you can dot with it quite effectively.  It’s a standard nib which is just on the fine side of medium so the lines are reasonably bold, however you can turn the nib over to get a much finer line, but I suspect you wouldn’t have to be too precious about your pen if you use it this way for a whole drawing ;0).

Time for some colour with fine-liners and a highlighter

Fine-liners and highlighter pen

This square almost has a 60’s feel to it. I think that’s the geometric shapes and bold colours.  I’m sure I had a dress with this pattern when I was about 5!

Anyway, an interesting thing here is that I selected the colours and then had the urge to use a stencil to create geometric shapes which in turn seemed to influence what I put inside them.

I got quite engrossed in creating this square and I can see myself going back to it as inspiration for an abstract piece – maybe later.  the fine-liners are great for bold colours, but have a tendency to bleed on the cartridge paper if you press too hard.  I think you would need an extra-smooth Bristol board type surface if you were to create a piece using this medium.

Graphite Pencil

Graphite pencils

I love drawing in pencil and don’t do it often enough.  It’s so versatile, so I might use it for an assignment piece – maybe the man-made piece because I have an inkling to use stainless steel to explore reflections.

I think pencil would be an ideal medium for this.

This square used a range of pencils: 8b, 6b, 2b, hb, 4h, 7h, F.


Blending stumps

Blending stumps

I use blotting paper blending stumps for both pencil and pastel drawings.  With pencil drawings I always have a ‘dirty’ stump that I can draw with to create very diffused lines or very soft shadows.

In this square I shaded the edges and blended them then crated some wide sweeps with the side of the stump and lifted out areas using a putty rubber.  It’s not easy to see on here as the result is very subtle.

Unit pens 0.8, 0.5, 0.4 & 0.3

Uni Pens in various sizes

Again, this is the type of pen that I would use for line drawings that achieve tone through the thickness and closeness of the lines or a technique such as dotting or hatching.  Varying the pressure with these pens doesn’t make much difference.

But it does make you creative in the types of marks that you use to create texture.  My favourite here is the dots.


So all in all an enjoyable experiment using pens, pencils and lines.


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