More expressive lines and marks

Following on from making marks related to angry feelings, I found the rest of the exercises more straightforward.


For these four sheets, I used the same materials as before, so charcoal, graphite putty, quill and ink and brush pen. I started with the charcoal and the lines became sort of firework-ish and a sense of bursting out. I found the paper too small! I wanted to have a huge sheet and expansively sweep with my whole arm so this inhibited me somewhat. I moved on to the other materials and the most expressive one I found was, again, the quill and ink:


The graphite putty was least successful but again, this might have been more fun (joyful) with a massive space to play with.


I chose this as I am often confronted with this feeling. I think it’s basically adrenalin: when I get a call about a swarm of bees, or when one of my children rings me saying “Mum….don’t worry but -“, or I suddenly realise I’m on the wrong section of the train, or when I get overwhelmed with creativity and ideas are pinging around in my head. It’s not good or bad, just fizzy.

Again, I used the same materials and the marks changed slightly as I moved from one sheet to another. I think the charcoal (top right) works best – it has a scratchy quality and is less regular than the other marks:


The fourth feeling was calm and I did this last so I could finish on a good note! I simply drew repeated lines but with the charcoal, I let the kinks in the lines follow their own pattern, and with the graphite putty, I dunked the chunk in water beforehand sweeping it along the page which gave a random, fading quality to the line which I really like. The quill and ink was really good until I dropped a blot on the page, and likewise with the brushpen, I picked it up off the paper when my concentration was broken and went back to it, consequently there is a block of doubled-up colour which is really irritating and not calm at all! I’m not sure why I need orderliness in the grey pen yet like the randomness of the graphite putty and wonkiness of the charcoal…the mistakes are in almost the same place on the ink and pen sheets too!


With this exercise I’m not sure I managed to detach myself and completely occupy the emotional space as I was constructing the drawings – I was doing the exercise rather than simply feeling the emotion and being in front of a sheet of paper with some drawing implements to hand. I wouldn’t think to draw if I was feeling joyful, and would walk, shout or play loud music if I were angry. However, it has been interesting to realise how my mark-making changes depending on my emotional state and the realisation that it’s a vital method of non-verbal communication in art and something to be aware of influencing my actions and the source of energy for my drawings.

I’m wondering if there are some universal marks which typify emotions…does everyone find repetitive lines calming? Would everyone think choppy, random marks depicted anger? Joy and anger are both energetic states so do these cross over; is one person’s angry marks another person’s joyful ones? Would colour make a difference?

As with most things, this exercise has opened up a box of delights to explore!


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