Part 1: Project 1: Exercise 1 – Expressive lines and marks

This exercise will help you begin to understand how to make your marks express a feeling, using single words as a starting point.

You’ll need:

• four A1 sheets of paper
• a range of materials including charcoal, ink and a stick (a sharpened twig, wooden chopstick or similar)
• greasy conté sticks, oil sticks or any other tool that will leave a varied mark depending on the speed and pressure that you exert – use one colour only, either black, dark blue, or dark brown.

Fold each A1 sheet in half (A2) and then in half again (A3). Unfold the sheet and tape it to the board or table top by the corners using masking tape. You’ll have four (A3) panels on each sheet.

In the corner of one of the sheets write ‘calm’, on another write ‘anger’, on the third write ‘joy’, then decide on another feeling for the fourth sheet. Create non-objective images, so no words and no figures, only lines, marks and abstract shapes within each rectangle. Bear in mind that the edges created by the folds are all that separate one image from the next. This will help you to become more aware of composition and negative space.

Spend a little time trying to inhabit one of the emotions (memories associated with the feeling may help) and when you feel sufficiently calm, angry, etc., take one of your drawing tools and try to translate the feeling into one of the panels. When you’re confident that the image works, change your medium and work on the next panel, still using the same word/feeling as your driving force. Keep working on the same sheet, changing the medium as you move to the next panel. When you’ve completed your first sheet, put it to one side and reflect on how you felt when working. Simply jot down a free flow of thoughts and words, similar to the way you engaged in a free flow of marks and lines.

Allow sufficient time between sheets to allow you to engage fully with the feeling required. The feelings that prompt the drawing shouldn’t be forced or faked, so if you don’t feel ready leave the next feeling sheet until another time.


Expressive lines and marks – set up and material

Without A1 sheets I instead taped up 4 x 4 x A3 sheets of the drawing board and laid out the materials to use:

~ Calligraphy black ink – with paint brush end and mahl stick end for application
~ Charcoal – various sizes
~ Black oil pastel
~ Black contė stick

Set up and material

My chosen feelings were joy, anger, calm and fear. I didn’t plan in any way and I had no specific images in mind before putting mark to surface, trying to be as spontaneous as possible, although I found that as the free-form of the drawing developed I did seem to intervene and direct with intention. Here they are in the order I drew them:


Oil pastel drawing thoughts: life, opening up, growth.
Charcoal drawing thoughts: positive action, change, hope.
Ink drawing thoughts: reaching out, engaging, making contact.
Conté drawing thoughts: euphoria, crazy, happy doing.


Ink drawing thoughts: blow-out, are you listening, shouty angry.
Conté drawing thoughts: it’s just wrong, no, why?
Oil pastel thoughts: mad as hell, getting less angry.
Charcoal drawing thoughts: red mists (do you get red charcoal?)


Oil pastel drawing thoughts: horizon, sea to sky, waves and clouds.
Charcoal drawing thoughts: middle ground, safe.
Ink drawing thoughts: horizon, fast, running, action, happy.
Conté drawing thoughts: horizon, where I am, out there.


Ink drawing thoughts: Curtain of fear, hidden, apprehension.
Conté drawing thoughts: What’s behind all this?, horizon.
Oil pastel drawing thoughts: Beyond the horizon, taking over, influences.
Charcoal drawing thoughts: Where do I fit?, will it stop?

Expressive lines and marks pdf file


Thinking about the materials used to make the marks, I enjoyed the fluidity of the ink, obvious lines but with the ability to drip and run onto the surface. The conté and charcoal I found quite similar in their ability to drag and create dark and lighter tones as well as being able to use a finger to smudge. I found the oil pastel the least satisfying in mark making with more fuzziness about the marks and harder to get clean lines. Blending was also quite difficult.

My last thought is that I maybe could have tried out some different qualities of surface paper, including rougher woven surfaces. I feel the drawings are all pretty much 2 dimensional on the smooth white paper surface.

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
5th May 2015