Project – Making Marks

Exercises – Holding pens and pencils & Doodling


I am not a doodler usually, so this didn’t come naturally and ended up mostly as lines, but it did get me using the materials and experimenting a bit.

Exercises – Mark-making techniques & Using charcoal & Line and other marks

Marks4 Marks3 Marks2 Marks1

Again this got me using a variety of materials in different ways, although I was much more comfortable using pencils than other media. As I use keyboard and mouse rather than writing anything, it did amaze me how quickly my hands became tired when trying to fill small boxes with lines or hatching.


Much easier to draw flowing lines in the direction of the natural movement of the hand. Softer pencils gave darker lines and much easier to shade areas, with more difference from varying the pressure applied. They are also more suited to expressive mark making.


I found charcoal to be great for doing expressive and bold lines, but very messy and I struggled to fix it to the paper and so ended up with it smudging my other work.

The uncompressed charcoal broke easily and couldn’t be used for fine lines. I also found myself smudging the work as I did different squares, but didn’t want to keep spraying fixative every couple of minutes.

It was hard to get light shading, except by smudging or rubbing out areas.

I look forward to trying some large pieces with charcoal.

Coloured media

I experimented with some chalk, coloured pencils and soft pastels, none of which I got on with very well! The chalk and pastels were very messy like the charcoal, gave very thick bold areas of colour, but didn’t fix very well to the paper. Using the coloured pencils to shade areas ended up looking like a childs colouring in book.

Research point – Van Gogh

Notes on the types of marks used by Van Gogh – see sketchbook

Check and log

How did holding your pen or pencil in a different way affect your drawing?

  • An inclined hold made it much easier to shade areas, and to give free flowing lines. An upright hold gave more defined lines and more stilted marks.

Which drawing tools suited the different mark making techniques you used?

  • Pencils and pens were much better suited to stippling, softer pencils and charcoal for bold wavy lines, pens and medium soft pencils for lines and hatching, soft pencils for shading.

Did you find that any marks or tools you used matched particular emotions or feelings? Did one convey calm and another frenzy for example?

  • I think the softer pencils and charcoal were better suited to match emotions or feelings, both of calm and frenzy depending on the mark-making method used. I found the harder pencils lacking in any emotion at all and similarly with my use of coloured media.

How did the introduction of colour affect your mark-making?

  • I didn’t have much success using colour in my mark-making as I struggled to work with the different mediums I tried. I think this is an area I need to work on going forwards.

Which of these experiments have you found most interesting and rewarding?

  • I have never used charcoal before and found this medium very exciting in its possibilities. I don’t find it easy to use, but it suits the expressive methods I would like to explore further.
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