Experimenting with expressive lines and marks: Anger


This exercise is about using marks to express a feeling, using a single word as a starting point: Anger, Calm, Joy and my choice of fourth, Excitement using four A3 sheets of paper for each.

As someone who struggles with my emotions, I was a bit dubious about allowing myself to become angry as I spend a not insignificant portion of my time trying to dispel this particular feeling!! So, having thought, I decided to slightly go against the course notes and rather than inhabit the emotion and translate the feelings in to marks, I thought about the different types of anger and how these could be represented artistically. I also wanted to get away from jabby, stabby marks going through the paper which is what I would probably end up doing if I were to attack the paper with a drawing tool…

Firstly I thought about random, chaotic, explosive anger. I threw powdered pigment on the sheet and then used a homemade quill pen and dark red ink to scratch in to the dust and the sheet. Dragging the end of the feather firmly across the page made a horrible squeaky sound which added to the sense of discomfort but I liked how the end jumped and scratched and gave a spiky, awkward feel to the marks:


For the second sheet in thought about slowly building anger, the ‘should have said something sooner’ anger that develops from an unresolved problem. For this I used charcoal sticks, starting small and faint and increasing the pressure to the point where the stick started to crumble and splinter. I liked this faltering effect as it echoes the stumbling hurt one feels as a situation escalates. Around the edge of the sheet I used the side of the stick to encase the marks with large sweeping black lines to frame the feelings with a boundary. I like to think this represents a culmination of the anger and a need to find a solution:


Thirdly I thought about swirling, destructive, inner turmoil anger. I used graphite putty dipped in water as I wanted a variation in the marks and the putty goes from a deep black to a pale silver as the graphite rubs on the page, and as different pressure is applied. This reflects the waves of emotion:


For the last sheet I chose the indignant anger of something that one has no control over but is being subjected to, and the feelings ebb and flow as thoughts about injustice or wrongdoing go through your head. I used brush pens to give short, frustrated marks using the tip and then the broad side to give blocks of colour. Sometimes the action of the repeated marks started to bleed through the paper and I liked this – it shows the damage being in these circumstances can cause:


I enjoyed this exercise, even though I was identifying with feelings I actually find really difficult. I think all of the drawings represent a discontent and none of them are restful:


I think the best drawing is the quill pen one as the randomness of the marks is effective for expressing anger, well – the sort of anger I am familiar with anyway! It is interesting how short choppy marks can express anger as well as longer flowing ones, depending on the medium used.


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