Maria Walker guides us through part two of this inspirational mark making series:

 The Great Indoors

“It is all a game of construction – some with a brush, some with a shovel, some choose a pen”

Jackson Pollock

Part one of this “Making Marks” blog concentrated on marks made using traditional artists’ materials such as pens, pencils and crayons, but these are only the tip of the iceberg as far as mark-making is concerned. In this week’s blog our featured artists demonstrate the wide range of objects and materials that can be used to ‘make marks’ without even leaving the house. These artists demonstrate how your own home can provide you with plenty of tools to make marks with, whether it is a precious object such as your father’s screwdriver or the remains of your lunch.

Joan Bingley has literally being “burning the church roof” in her fireplace at home to produce a plentiful supply of her own charcoal. Her explorations into the potential of this material illustrate the fun and unpredictability of experimentation.

“The cedar shingles on the church steeple in the village had been badly damaged by woodpeckers and were replaced over the summer. Those of us with fireplaces were encouraged to help ourselves to the old cedar shingles, which when broken make excellent kindling. They also proved to make good, easily held charcoal for mark-making. Some control and cleanness of mark was possible with the flat pieces of partly burnt cedar. Later attempts with part of a log remaining in the grate when I came to clean out the ashes in the morning proved less comfortable to hold and produced messier marks, though some offered interesting textures.”

Robertta McPherson demonstrates what can be achieved using her father’s screwdriver and a hammer to make some powerful marks, as well as a trusty pipette.

Marie-Ghislaine Beauce shows us how humble household tools can make interesting marks. These powerful marks have been made using a paper cutter. She liked this tool due to the thickness of the line and the ease of use.  She also experimented with a pastry wheel to create more delicate lines.

Jo Coombes has made abstract repeat patterns using a grouting tool. It is interesting to see how the quality of the mark changes depending on how the tool is used.

Jo has also developed her mark-making technique and has create realistic images of plants using items found in her house such as a piece of rope and the lid from a felt pen.

Some people find that mark-making can be a way into discovering the joys of art, especially if you have been told in the past that you can’t draw. The process of experimentation to produce abstract marks and surface texture can be very satisfying, as there is no right or wrong.

Linda Walsh admits that she has only recently discovered the freedom of mark- making and is now fully on board with the idea and is even encouraging her grandchildren to get involved too.

“I came late to ‘mark making’ as I was convinced I couldn’t draw and as a consequence I didn’t ever try!
It was only after I had joined Phoenix, and the group set various drawing exercises (with many groans from some of us), that I began to enjoy just making marks, especially with elongated brushes, pencils and various homemade tools. The process of experimentation gave me the confidence to try my hand at ‘proper’ drawing too! I try to encourage my grandchildren to explore marks and colours without always wanting it to be ‘like real’. “

Linda has definitely been thinking ‘out of the box’ to create these playful images from a cereal packet and the remains of an orange peel, which just goes to show you can play with your food as long as it is with creative intent!

Samantha Jones has taken the idea of using household tools for mark-making one step further, and has used her freezer to create these beautiful marks using ice and dye.

“I like the unpredictable nature of the ice dyeing technique as you never quite know what end result you are going to get, as the dyes split out differently each time. Also the fabric and paper, depending on where they are placed in the dye bath, will take the colour in a variety of ways and different folding techniques will again give various results”.

…… to be continued ……


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