16 August 2015

Textures and marks and pattern

As part of the CQ self-study group, I'm currently well into the mark-making exercise. While looking for some mark-making tools I came across some marks from previous times:

Marks of stitches, petrified into porcelain -
 (the tealight is to give a sense of scale)

Teeny-tiny ink marks, made by spraying the paper and then touching each droplet of water with a pointy brush loaded with ink -
"Inking the waterspots" is a meditative, mindless, random activity. You have some control over it - in the amount of spraying, and whether you catch the small scattered dots before they dry, or focus on the central area ... and how fast you work.

Trying out some tools - making the same sort of marks with each one, dabs and flicks and suchlike, and getting into some lines, shapes, and patterning despite myself.
Looking up mark making (there's a lot about mark making in early childhood!) I found this to be useful:

" Marks are like building blocks in that they are individual and discrete, but can be used in a repetitive manner to render almost any visual effect. Marks can be highly gestural and expressive, or controlled and mechanical. The degree to which artists can achieve certain desired effects is determined by their choice of tool, the nature of the medium used, and the quality of the gestures employed. Marks can be descriptive, expressive, conceptual, and symbolic in nature."
Gestures in the next sheet are circular - twiddling the brush. They're still a matter of wrist or finger gestures, though - it would be good to do something Very Big, whole-body gestures.
 Using a rigger and a fan brush in various linear ways -
Another approach - using marks to develop an idea, the stitches into paper that I haven't yet started. Right from the start, this was bound to develop into pattern-making -
Using a 3/4" flat brush (top) and a rigger for dots and dashes
Top left, the simple expedient of scribbling with the side of a rigger - the ink leaves interesting tones as it dries on coated paper -
 Other marks are developments of feather stitch, with the "thread" painted onto the back of the paper too, and ways of using the big flat brush, moving along to music.

By now the brush had developed a shape of its own, spreading out to each side, useful for making patterns -
 Closeups -

The randomness of the last one appeals to me more than the rigid pattern.

Seeing these "results" makes me feel impatient and dissatisfied. Is it freeing perhaps, or instructive perhaps, to do this sort of exercise again and again? I did find it helpful to have a starting point, like the idea of making "stitches", and to have a goal of a certain number of pages to fill - though probably if this was 50 pages rather than 5, there would be some sort of glass ceiling that would be broken through at some point, if only out of the desperation of "oh whatever can I do now".

Or maybe it's all part of "developing a vocabulary" - trying different things and seeing what you "like".

As for marks themselves, their components are (in my mind anyway) pressure, direction, and speed (ie, the gesture) - and perhaps extent, though an extensive mark could be called a line. Additional factors that give them variability are the medium (graphite, ink, etc), the tool used, and the substrate (eg type of paper).


Kathleen Loomis said...

I agree that if you forced yourself to stick with it longer you would start to develop ideas, if only out of desperation. I read that a Famous Artist, perhaps Robert Motherwell, got himself out of a slump by putting 100 pieces of paper out in a row and resolving to work on each piece in sequence -- doing SOMETHING -- and moving on, no stopping, to the next piece. Then he would go back to the beginning and do something else to each piece, always moving. Eventually he thought he would have at least one decent composition out of the 100 that he could work with.

How long did you work on those marks? Maybe tmorrow do twice as long.

irene macwilliam said...

I remember when I was doing my C&G Creative embroidery course my tutor said to me, stop making samples you need to get on with your ideas. She was right, I kept hopeing I would come up with something so stunning that nobody had ever thought of, I was scared of not producing something " good "...... whatever good is, but there lies a whole new line of philosophical thought.
I think sometimes one just needs to just jump in and go with the flow on a project rather than always spening time thinking and playing.
I would be interested in what others think. I suspect this is why Margaret you end up doing patterns of mark making and end up liking the very random unexpected piece you picked out in your blog as being the mark you liked best.