Exercise: Dramatic marks

Blocking out A4 page with charcoal was followed by erasing surface with putty rubber and drawing over this with willow charcoal. These steps were repeated. Here is an intermediate stage where I have swiped lightly with the charcoal and combined this with some very thick defined areas.

dramatic marks 1

I then continued the process. My final picture (below; I kind of arbitrarily stopped when it began to look messy) did not look at striking in terms of objects disappearing into the page as the previous stage, although it is more interesting. I was able to layer up the erased lines, such that one appeared to lie on top of the other. It began to get more difficult to make a definite line as the paper became more impregnated with charcoal.

dramatic marks 2

The nex drawing required 6B pencil with putty rubber. I found I had to sharpen a lot of the painted surface of the pencil away with a knife in order to shade uniformly and quickly. I am getting an idea that the subtraction can be applied to bring objects into light, to signify depth, light and shadow, and textured surfaces.

dramatic marks 4

Project 1.1 – Fractured and dramatic marks

Exercise: Fractured marks


Playing freely with charcoal reminds me of my envy of the drawings of children – so free! Did my best to empty my mind as much as possible. The first strike on the page came only after a series of hesitant gestures towards the paper…

1. Began by horizontally swiping the thick compressed charcoal stick across the page in bursts, pivoting from the elbow, overlapping these swipes down the page. Paper grain came through nicely with contrast from top to bottom of each swipe, the top being darker and the bottom lighter as I was pressing down slightly with the top of the stick. Actually there is a great deal of curvature depicted in these swipes because of this. Image wound copper pipe/wire, or the coiled corn snake I saw at the terrarium/aquarium last week.


2. Drawing (1) did not convey much in the way of feeling fractured, however. So I turned the charcoal on its edge (45 degrees) and really stabbed across the paper, letting the line feather out to ‘evidence’ the speed of movement. I kept the lines straight though, but varied thickness and pressure. This one is distinctly artificial – man-made in fact. We do love grid arrangements, and speed.


3. This time I curved the lines and created something like birds wings, or the raffia palms that grow around here (inexplicably…). These looked good laid over some lighter shading with the side of the charcoal – instantly the ‘feathers/leaves’ are given depth. I then made a slow stripe down the length of the page, to fill the space and provide contrast to existing marks.


4. Using only curves and the edge of the charcoal. A lot of movement in the quick circular strokes, thinking about the sureness of Matisse’s lines (one can dream). Then I added a head, to make it a roly-polying figure. Why not.



Willow charcoal, short broken marks followed by free movement with patterns and curved shapes – followed by scoring putty rubber. The lightened stripes of the putty rubber were not white – rather light grey. At first I followed the lines of existing charcoal marks. Then I went in all directions, making new erased marks in perpendicular directions which made these erased lines appear to sit on the surface a bit more. This one reminds me of the new Chinese overpass I just read about on the BBC. IMG_5316.JPG


I spent some time with pen and ink making lines and shapes. I then drew some water through the wet ink with a brush, which allowed me to move around areas of ink to create new which dispite bleeding left quite distinct traces of the original pen lines. This wash seemed to create depth – nice against the stark white of the paper. Areas of early-penned ink lines had already dried by the time I got to the water wash – and remained unbroken by the water (although will retry with non-water-resistant ink as this appears to be what I have bought! Not very experienced with pen and ink).


I then tried again with water-soluble felt tip. The pigments in this black felt tip pen’s ink are actually a mixture blue and what appears to be a yellow pigment. When water was added, I could push clouds of blue around, although I tried not to mix the water and pigment uniformly. The blue travelled much further than the yellow, and when the clouds dried (below, right) a really solid-looking shape, with a fine dark blue outline, appeared amongst my scrawled pen lines. Interestingly when dry the centre of the cloud takes on a pink hue rather than yellow. I took a picture of it still wet (below, left), as I knew it wouldn’t last.