Mark Making

I started this project by mark making with pencils ranging from hard to soft, using differing pressure. Marks made included: hatching, cross hatching, waves, ‘jellies’, stippling, scumbling, zigzags, flicks and shading using the side of the pencil.

I found the 4H to 2H pencils strange to use to begin with because they are not my go to choice of pencil. They seemed very hard and scratchy. However once I got going with them I could see how useful they are in providing definition and detail. I found that they enable drawing of lines much closer together without blending into each other. Lots of pressure is needed to create dark shading. I found the B and 2B pencils much easier to vary shading and tone with pressure than the H range, and stippling and scumbling became easier. With the 3B upwards, it became difficult to achieve any definition without having the pencil seriously sharp and working on a larger scale. This exercise has really opened my mind about using different pencils, I am now able to see how a range of effects can be created by varying the hardness of pencil used. I will take this forward in my sketching and in any monochromatic or limited colour palette work I do.

I then explored the different pencils on different types of paper.

The smoothness of the layout paper allows dots to be made very easily with all pencils, even the 4H. I stopped making marks at 2B because the paper wasn’t offering any interesting effects.

The smooth cartridge paper was similar to the layout paper. The best range for creating effects was 2B - 4B.

The mixed media paper provided a grainy effect with the softer pencils, as the tooth of the paper meant the white still showed through. However, the harder pencils fill the tooth, covering the white. Scumbling almost looks like shading with the softer pencils on this paper.

The glossy photo paper has no tooth, it was very unpleasant and scratchy to work on even with a softer pencil such as the 3B. I had to press really hard to lay down any pigment, which in turn scratches the surface.

Shading with the 6B pencil laying flat created a really nice effect on the acrylic paper. As with the mixed media paper, scumbling ends up looking like shading. Harder pencils fill the tooth more but the criss cross nature of the paper still shows through.

A criss cross effect is created on pastel paper with a soft 6B pencil, much like on the acrylic paper. The harder pencils fill the tooth and are difficult to shade with.

With light pressure using a 6B pencil on the medium grain watercolour paper, a wavy effect is created. Harder pressure begins to fill the grain. It creates a pitted effect, one that might be used to illustrate stone. Harder pencils fill the tooth.

My next step was to explore various colour based media in depth.

Coloured pencil - With these I explored techniques such as: layering, scumbling, stippling and burnishing. I tried different methods of blending including the use of solvent and tools such as a stubbie. I then tried pencil over and under other media and found that they are good for adding detail on top of a base but that they can also form a good base for media like charcoal pencils, watercolour pencils, oil pastels and pen. Coloured pencils are already one of my favourite mediums to use but this has widened my understanding of their creative possibilities.

Watercolour - I started by trying different techniques and found blotting and splattering interesting ones to use. I also like the way watercolour works with wax resist crayons. I followed this by trying out other media over the top. Watercolour forms a good ground for most other media.

Oil pastel - I explored the effects differing pressure has and tried out different ways of blending. I particularly liked the effect created by layering colour then scraping. They are good for adding texture. Oil pastels are a fairly new media for me and one that I want to continue to explore.

Wax crayon - I found that wax crayons are not particularly versatile. You can vary pressure and create layers but the potential for blending is limited. Using solvent to blend lifts the colour.

Soft pastel - With these I tried out different methods for blending and lifting of colour. I found the use of water with soft pastels interesting, as water over pastel creates an almost watercolour effect and pastel over water accentuates and deepens its colour. This is a technique I can definitely see myself using in my work.

Brush pen, ink and biro - I concentrated mainly on mark making with the pens, exploring different pressures and strokes. I tried using the brush pen and the ink with water as well as dry. You can create nice effects with ink by adding a bold line then pulling away with water. I found that you have to work quickly though because once it is dry it is dry! It is possible to get some blending with brush pens and water but I feel that better blended looks can be achieved with other media.

Gouache - I found gouache to be so versatile. I tried it with varying amounts of water with each creating a different look. No water made a thick opaque look like acrylic, while a watercolour effect can be created with lots of water, and there is no much variation in between! I tried out watercolour techniques such as wet on wet and paint on wet. It scumbles well and is great for adding detail onto a previous layer. It is also fun because it can be applied in lots of different ways with different tools and is fabulous for adding texture. Gouache also makes a good ground for other media.

Acrylic - As with gouache, I tried applying in different ways with different tools. I find acrylic to be particularly good for blending, scumbling, scraping and impasto. It can also be watered down.

My next exploratory step was too try each medium on each different type of paper, the results are shown below. This formed the basis for my choice of which paper to use in the ‘Exploring painting and Drawing’ exercise.