Project: Making marks – check and log 1

Exercise: Mark-making techniques

  • Sepia ink with brush: it’s very hard to do cross hatching even with a fine brush as the lines are too thick. Hatching looks better if the lines are more even in tone and thickness, with the ink & brush the first couple of strokes are much darker than the later strokes;
    >> but washes and thicker, fluid strokes work well
    >> might be better for larger work than 7x7cm
  • Graphite pencil 4B Medium Wash: great for a variety of marks and lines of different greys, but creating black is pretty impossible
    >> use in combination with charcoal or even softer graphite to create darker shades
  • Fine pens: great for “clinical” outline-drawings and etching-style drawings. It looks very clean when done well, a bit like technical drawings; also great for fine/clean cross hatching
    >> general impression is clean and orderly
  • 2 colour pastel pencils: stippling creates soft areas, as the pens are quite thick and “chalky”, putting 2 colours of stippling on top of each other creates quite a nice mid-tone
  • Pastel pencils on top of pencil 4B: Using colours to shade objects
    >> yellow to suggest highlights, light blue for mid-tones and brownish for darker shades
    >> could be good for portraits that need a bit of life
    >> exaggeration of flat colour instead of grey shade is quite interesting
  • Ink with fountain pen: (red/dark blue) very fluid for drawing, feels quite good in hand, more free line than evenness of fine pen, interesting effect if stippling is used

Exercise: Using charcoal


At first charcoal seemed too messy for me but I think I wanted to draw to flimsy objects in too small a space. That doesn’t work with charcoal.

Bold outlines, shapes with some body and quick sketches suggesting volume or maybe movement are great though. The black can be deepened if an eraser is used lightly on the dark areas to create a more “washed” effect, I guess because the particles are pushed into and evened out on the paper.

If the charcoal has been applied too thickly, erasing it to create highlights doesn’t quite work anymore, but it does on the medium and light tones.

Compressed charcoal feels coarser in the application than a charcoal pencil, the lines can be lighter in tone with the latter. However to suggest the shape the charcoal sticks used on their long side are very quick and intuitive.

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Research point: Vincent van Gogh pen and ink drawing

Vincent Van Gogh: Harvest in Provence, 1888

Vincent Van Gogh: Harvest in Provence, 1888

Vincent van Gogh: Provencal Orchard, 1888

Vincent van Gogh: Provencal Orchard, 1888

  • vivid, full of pattern patches, as if it’s a collage made of differently patterned fabric patches in the 2 drawings from 1888
  • the style has changed and developed between 1884 and 1888 from a pretty “standard” drawing style to quite distinct
  • The latter ink drawings seem to imagine the typical brushstrokes in the paintings
  • perspective by generous patterns in foreground, smaller patterns in background
  • interest points added for good measure (cart, houses, horse)
  • nice flow of free strokes (in foreground – see Harvest drawing), then a variety of areas of strong patterns – dots, lines, repeated quotation marks, organised hatched areas.
  • there is a lot of order, despite the variety of marks
  • he seems to add a pattern from his imagination to the area that he perceives as distinct – such as the dotted sky or the quotation mark field in “Harvest” drawing
  • provencal orchard picture >> note that trees are outlined and then filled with wash/hatching
Vincent van Gogh: Pine Trees in the Fen, 1884, pen and ink

Vincent van Gogh: Pine Trees in the Fen, 1884, pen and ink

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