Review: Project 1 – Making marks

I’ve finished Project 1 of my OCA course! An overview/introduction is here and photos of the actual work can be seen here.

I’ve taken a week longer than I hoped, but given it’s all new and my hopes were pretty high that’s not too bad – I just need to be careful about over-runs accumulating.

Meg left some really helpful comments that made me stop and question myself . First up, the complexity I’ve added to the blog structure. Yes, it’s a bit awkward – I’ll have to think about some fine-tuning. Given what I’m doing has changed it makes sense that the blog will change – at the moment it’s not quite one thing or another. Second, my volume of work. So far I’ve photographed and loaded every last piece of work. Partly because the images may be useful fodder for computer manipulation, partly because I want to ask my tutor if the quantity/variety of work is enough – which means I have to show the quantity and variety šŸ™‚ I’m going to have to do some editing when I formally present work. Meg also commented about a fear of an unpretty sketchbook. It’s more the opposite for me – it was only yesterday I noticed just how messy my pages are. Another thing to check with my tutor, but I suspect I’ll need to be a bit more ship-shape in the future.

There are some formal review questions, which I’ve answered below. Next up is working in stitches – pretty much as foreign to me as working in chalk, paint and ink!

Have you ever thought about drawing in this way before?


I have done very little drawing, certainly not with the idea of “mark-making” – in fact I did some web-surfing to find what “mark-making” meant.

Were you able to be inventive about the range of marks you made?

I feel I’ve tried a lot of things – in fact I’m quite impressed with the pile of output. I took some time in my sketchbook at one point to play with different brushes and different ways of using them. However I feel I’ve only scratched the surface – in fact I’m really pleased that with many of the samples I feel I have lots of variations I’d like to try. In the context of the project I needed to keep moving, and I’m looking forward to ongoing sketchbook work to explore further.

I was able to borrow ArtEffects by Jean Drysdale Green last week – using that is obviously not me being inventive, but it was very useful to help me see a little of what is possible.

Did you explore a wide range of media?

It was more a middling than a wide range. I already had a small collection of media and bought a few more bits and pieces. Apart from cost issues I feel I had enough to do learning about what I have, let alone so many other wonderful products available. I now have a base and can continue adding according to need and whim.

Are you pleased with what you’ve done? Will it help you to approach drawing more confidently?

Overall I am very pleased and enjoyed the tasks set. I was very stiff and awkward at first and had to keep stopping to stretch my shoulders, but gradually loosened up. I am now much more confident and expect to continue improving. It’s helpful that this is not drawing for its own sake – it is part of a larger process and a “failure” is just new information.

There are some samples that were total failures, and a lot more where there’s a big gap between what was in my head and what ended on the page – particularly in the later exercises which were using developing skills to a particular end. I’m satisfied with what I’ve done, but that’s with the recognition of my starting point.

Which exercise did you enjoy most? Why?

Simple mark-making exploring different media was my favourite. I find it very absorbing and relaxing. Generally I am very tired at the end of the workday and used to feel unable to do much of anything, but I find working on mark-making uses other parts of my brain and refreshes rather than drains. Most of the exercises are good from that point of view, but simple exploration has no expectations or right answers – experimenting and seeing/thinking about what happens is enough.

Which media did you most enjoy working with? Why?

Ink – both with brush and with pen & nib. The flow of ink felt very free and easy – I’ve done some silk painting in the past and it felt reminiscient of that. I like the huge range of marks. I like the scratch of the pen on paper (in the first couple of years of school, mid sixties, we were taught to write italic letters with pen and ink (cartrige) – a positive memory). I also like the fine detail and control that is possible.

I found two areas very challenging. The first was looking at artists’ mark-making. My original interpretation of the requirement was to try to reproduce their marks, and the attempt made me feel ridiculous. There is a depth of talent, knowledge and skill, a fluency, energy, intention that a beginner like meĀ  – well, I don’t think I clearly see the marks, let alone understanding or replicating them. Once I reframed the requirement as “looking at wonderful works to expand just a little my own mark-making” it sounded and felt more approachable – I’m not trying to imitate, only to get a few ideas, make a few cracks in my own boundaries. In the end I made a few marks based on Dobell, van Gogh and Picasso, plus spent time examining prints of works by Klee and Dufy.

The second challenging area was Stage 4 and understanding what was required. Details, including how I resolved it at least enough to keep moving, are with the rest of my work here.

What other forms of mark-making could you try?

There are lots of other media to try – alcohol inks for example. I also worked mainly on cartridge paper except in the exercise which specified exploration of other options. Most exercises I stopped due to time and the need to keep moving, rather than that I had explored all my ideas.

The biggest area I haven’t yet touched is computer manipulation of marks. That’s one of the reasons I have photographed everthing I’ve done – to use as a basis for later computer work. I’ve used gimp for photo manipulation in the past, and would like to try it in a mark-making frame of mind.

How will these exercises enrich your textile work in the future?

There is a general feeling that being more observant and aware is A Good Thing. It is easy to see such marks applied to stitching. Given my focus for some years has been weaving (and not tapestry), the link seems more tenuous. One possibility is to work back into weaving with stitching and I’ve started to note ideas around that. There are various forms of weaving that support imagery – the “Imagery in Woven Fabric” class I did with Kay Faulkner last year explored quite a few, and I’m building up a list of other ideas on that too. Other than that, it could be a good way to start projects such as the recent P2P2 challenge (various bits posted including the reveal here).

Apart from the direct benefits, there are general life benefits. I quite often visit galleries (especially NSW Art Gallery) and have noticed that I am looking at works differently. Finally, this project has assisted me in developing study routinesĀ  – note-taking, life balance, time-keeping etc – which will be of ongoing benefit through the course.

I’ve been hestitating a while over publishing this post. I feel there’s so much I haven’t said, so many improvements I could make, probably so many mistakes I could fix (verb tenses anyone?) Deep breath – it’s far from perfect, but for now, I hope, it’s enough. Jump!

2 Responses to “Review: Project 1 – Making marks”

  1. 1 Meg in Nelson September 12, 2011 at 6:40 am

    I sure am glad you posted. It’s so exciting, and I half-envy you for doing this course, (half, only because I know it’s a LOT of work and requires discipline!). Re. the complexity of the blog site, just please dot your posts around with links as you did so I don’t miss anything.

    I once did a mark-making attempt, but only did one A3 page, and I now feel very lame. But one of the things I really enjoyed was using things not designed for drawing; I had so little control over them I didn’t feel responsible for anything, which freed me. And I still think your pages are tidy and lovely.

    I’m really looking forward to how you will use these knowledge/skills in cloth weaving, Judy.

  2. 2 robin508310 December 29, 2011 at 7:07 am

    Extremely eye-catching Judy, I am very envious of your work, lots of ideas for future thinking about. Would you be willing to comment on your ‘time’ commitment more specifically your daily timetable please?

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