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!

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.

Warm-up: temporary drawings

This exercise is about leaving a mark, and that remembering that drawing is not only done by artists. Temporary drawings are “fleeting, expressive and playful”.

My first drawing is one which is temporary in the sense that it will disappear. I took an A2 sheet of paper and arranged mealworms and corn on it in patterns:


I then opened the door of the chicken’s run – see this link for a YouTube clip of how they responded!

This is what I was left with:


This is a sort of drawing in itself – marks on a page: indentations from the chickens’ beaks, and footprints.

Two more: drawing in the layer of dust behind the steering wheel, and dragging my boot through the mud in the layby:

It was an interesting exercise as it made me wonder what constitutes drawing. There are catkins all over the hazel and alder trees around here and if you flick them, pollen flies in to the air; I’ve initiated this sudden puff of yellow dust so does that mean I am drawing?

I liked this more chaotic/high entropy idea as it appeals to the experimental side of me so I put some used tea leaves on a plate and poured water in to them to create patterns. I then swirled the water round to make a vortex and allowed the particles to settle:


I really like these and enjoyed the messy, experimental aspect of this drawing as I am learning to investigate this part of my creativity. This was my favourite part of the exercise, although I enjoyed seeing my hens tackle the the impromptu mealworm treat with such gusto.

What I will take from this exercise is a broadening of what I think of as drawing. It would be useful to use it if I get stuck or in a creative cul-de-sac, to widen the parameters.

#OneWeek100People2017 continued…

Thursday was a pretty poor day with me only managing 5 whilst sitting in the station car park:


This meant I had the small matter of 52 people to draw on Friday, but some clandestine sketching on the train up, at Victoria station and in Foyles cafe (lots of people nicely distracted with their laptops) and the train back left me at 95. I borrowed my daughter and son (again) and a couple of people off the tv and that was my 100 done! It was a bit of a marathon and I felt as if I was running out of steam by the end of the train journey home but I am really pleased with myself and it’s been a fantastically useful exercise.

I focussed mainly on faces/heads strangely, and despite being pretty good at hands at life class I clearly can’t draw them when I’m in a hurry! I also found legs and general body shape difficult to get proportioned despite having clothes to help me get the shapes. But I loved the speed, and scribbling with a fineliner, and I enjoyed searching out people who looked interesting. Inevitably there were times when the person moved and I had to fill in the blanks – with variable success.

Here are my sketches, in my A5 sketchbook and using pencil or my sepia fineliner and brushpen:

I really valued the commitment of this – it seems a lot and it was hard work but I would never have stuck with it without the community aspect of it. I usually scribble a bit on the train but I will absolutely carry on with this discipline and try and develop the technique of capturing the movement and keeping my sketches loose and gestural.


This event was brought to my attention by a fellow student on the Foundation Drawing forum, and I thought it would be a good exercise for me to focus on while I am reading through the course notes for Drawing 1.

I do really like gesture sketches and love the freedom of scribbling something down in a matter of seconds – the short warm up poses are one of my favourite parts of life drawing sessions. I realised my main problem would be sheer volume of people as I live on a country lane surrounded by fields!

My usual trip to London on Monday proved a rich seam to mine especially as all the train travellers were on their phones so I could sketch fairly openly! I did 20 drawings during the two journeys and whilst I had dinner:

I’m using an A5 sketchbook for this challenge and whatever implement I have to hand!

I’ve focussed mainly on heads and upper torsos and have attempted to capture a pose and stick with it as obviously people do keep moving, and one can’t stare too obviously…

Tuesday required some definite planning and I met with a friend who is also doing the challenge and we went to the pub. Unsurprisingly it wasn’t that busy given it was midweek and hardly balmy weather but we managed a few sketches and despite some slightly odd looks, we weren’t barred!

Today was a struggle as a couple of assumed opportunities didn’t materialise, so I ended up with a 15 minutes in a supermarket cafe where I cracked on and did another 10:

So, my target of 60 by the end of today is at 42; bit of catching up to do in the next 2 days, although we are up in London again on Friday so that should see the week out nicely! My confidence has increased hugely and although I get a terrible fit of the giggles sometimes when I look at my sketch compared to the real person it has been a really useful exercise.

I will be doing more whole people and also varying the scale and trying some groups. The emphasis is on speed and gesture so I don’t want to lose the spontaneity or looseness of my sketching. Watch this space!



I’m waiting for my course materials to arrive but I’m conscious that the thing I struggled with in Foundations was prep work, and actually thinking through what I was going to do. So, in a spirit of ‘start as you mean to go on’ I thought I’d have a go at drawing one of my cockerels who is particularly handsome.

I did some prep sketches and took some photographs and got a pose from him that I felt would work. As I struggle with finding patches of tone, I photoshopped him in black and white to help. I then had a go at some different media: tinted charcoal, soluble graphite pencils, inktense pencils, charcoal, watercolour and ink. Having worked through various combinations in my sketchbook, I decided to leave the blue-green beetlesheen of his tail feathers out and focus on the gold and red.

I wanted to go large (again, to get away from my A4 comfort zone) so charcoal presented itself as the most obvious for the bulk of the drawing. I liked the quill and ink on top of the charcoal as it sort of scratches the dust in places and leaves ink in others.

I drew him in pencil first then went over in charcoal. I then added ink and gold paint, and went over a few bits of finer detail with a charcoal pencil.

Here is the final drawing:



I’m pleased with how it’s turned out and I’m also pleased with my main aim of working through and using preparatory work to finalise the image. I wanted a slightly abstract/exaggerated version of him and I like the smudged background. I also like the gold and the ink on the charcoal. The tail feathers are less successful and I might have to practise these again; I’m not quite sure why they don’t look right but they feel a bit amateurish.

Drawing Skills 1

Welcome to my online learning log for Drawing 1: Drawing Skills. Having recently completed Foundations Drawing, I’m looking forward to tackling this course as the first part of BA Drawing. I think it is going to be quite a step up from my last course but I’m ready to embrace the challenge and I look forward to sharing my experiences on this blog.