2.2 Mark Making Materials

This project is aimed at extending the range of materials used for drawing and in particular to look at the opportunities offered by layering up materials and scratching through. I have tried to extend that by looking at other ways of layering up and working back into materials.

Firstly, I have looked at artists who use a layered approach and considered their different techniques and outcomes.

Cy Twombly used house paint as a layer to draw through to create works in pursuit of the ‘primitive’ such as ‘Untitled’ 1954, where he has delineated simple, totemic forms with energetic marks drawn through wet house paint.  The spontaneity of the artist is present in the work as if we have just watched him create it. The drawn marks have a roughness in contrast to any line drawn with paint of a brush. They convey power, intent and vigour.

Looking for contemporary artists which use this technique but to different effect, I found the work of Lorene Anderson through the Artsy portal.  She works on a grand scale using layers of paint (emulsion?) . Layers are applied in wide sweeps and then drawn back through with a tool with large, even teeth, perhaps a garden rake. The effect is to produce calm, rhythic shaopes which evoke waves or organic forms. The calmness is enhanced by the choice of a pastel, cool colour palette.

Another artist found through Artsy is Mario Trejo. He is fascinated by space, time ans mathematics, as I am, and used layers and scratching through to make networks of linear marks which evoke a space/time dimension. Many of the works are rather repetitive and the geometrical quality of the lines and the shapes they form don’t involve me. I find more interest in the more organic nature of his work ‘All Kings Die’ 2014. The more random marks have more to say.

Mary Didoardo makes works were she paint an underlaying work, over paints it and then scratches back to reveal a dynamic strip or ribbon of the original work. Some times she inverts this process creating a distressed and scratched through background on to which she adds a linear painted design. Some of her works are reminiscent of the forms of Twombly but lack his forcefulness.

I did lots of experiments with different media, supports and tools.

marks (9 of 14)

Acrylic paint is effective but very quick drying, so would be difficilt on a large scale. Open acrylic paint gave longer working times but mushy results. Effectiveness is also very dependant on the relative tones of the layers and the contrast in colours.

marks (10 of 14)

Acryl gouache worked very well giving softer, more naturalistic effects than acrylic, but was still very quick to dry. Gesso or acrylic over indian ink gave interesting results. Drawing into acrylic with water, spattering and dripping gave interesting marks, as did palette knives and bamboo pens. Some of my favourate marks were drawn with a thumbnail in a damp tissue.

marks (11 of 14)

I applied what I had learnt to developing a parallel project sketch of the huge oak in my garden, the ‘Old Man’. In my sketch, I had been looking for large shapes to describe mass and structure, and I felt my pencil marks might be interpreted well by this technique.

marks (8 of 14)marks (4 of 6)

Add detail pic, add colour sketch

In order to work larger than the samples, I worked quickly applying the paint in sections with a palette knife, and this made it difficult to integrate some of the areas as i would have wished. The paint was drawn into with a fork, bamboo pen, my nails and the end of the brush, dripped into and wiped into with a damp tissue, particularly the sky.

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marks (6 of 6)

A3, ‘The Old Man’, acrylic

Working in this way has produced a quite dramatic, textural result. It may be only an image of a tree, but I feel it has a force of presence and mass.  The work is A3, because of the drying time issue, but would have even more force if it were A1 or bigger.  I chose colours which were related to the real local colour without attempting to be directly representational. I made a decision to work from light to dark in layers, since this had worked well in my samples, and the effect is of a rather unearthly twilight.  I enjoyed working quickly and spontaneously which has produced a really interesting interplay of textures and marks between layers but also unintended hard edges where the media dried too quickly.

I have slipped back into convention again, in subject if not so much in representation. I need to extend this work to a less conventional subject. The technique has an inherent violence. In places, I have attacked the paint so much that I have made holes in the paper. I think it could be used very effectively to describe a subject about which I had deep seated feelings, especially anger. I have therefore decided to produce a larger work, carrying forward this technique into the final project of this part of the course.




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