Category Archives: Project 2 Mark-making materials

Part 3. Project 2. Research point.

The Abstract Expressionists’ use of gesture was caught up with notions of authenticity and even of purity of intent. The influential critic Clement Greenberg wrote in his article ‘Avant Garde and Kitsch’ in 1939 about the good artist painting cause’ and the bad artist painting ‘effect’. He also talks about what he describes as ‘the inflections of the personal’ becoming a legitimate subject. For example, the artist Jackson Pollock talked about wanting to paint from his emotions, not to illustrate them. What’s your response to these comments? (Course book p. 44)

Finding my passion and style is an active process – the more i engage with the process the more of it starts to appear. Bad -good irrelevant, it is all part of the process – an emotional response is finding its way into the work as I go along, this is what I am observing regarding my own way of working during the course. I am still torn between “demand from others to produce a “realistic” representation” and “finding my way of representing that same reality”. Looking at works that show you exact representation of reality are very easy to understand – “oh I get it! Oh how beautiful, just like the real thing!” – And while require great skill and technical mastery could be considered as “snapshots of reality” by the contemporary motion. While more abstract works are less understood by the general or unexposed public (purely standard observation) in my opinion can be a lot more engaging and become question makers -” what is this? What did artist try to say? Is it emotion or just blobs of paint over the canvass?” – I personally do not like all works in this manner but definitely find them thought provoking, mind stirring and mostly visually eye spinning experience. I feel the tension, emotion and sometimes energy of the artist still present in works that use more colour, gesture marks, innovative media application and juxtaposition of spaces.

I cannot claim to understand exact meaning in works by, for example, De Kooning, C Twombly, J Pollock etc. – but I cannot stop looking at the vortex of emotions that appear to jump out from the surface upon viewing.

Salvador Dali ( example of artist that i like very much) painted his inner vision/dreams/reality using meticulous techniques and precision while Pollock expressed his vision/emotion by engaging with the process and using whole body movement – in my opinion there is no real comparison, they are both great masters, innovators and important individuals in the art world. Both artists visualised their feeling but in a different way – one visually “easy” to read and another through material application.

Film by Hans Hamush: Jackson Pollock

I have seen this video and other documentaries about J. Pollock before, but it was great to revisit and watch him work and share his feelings as he works. He explains that working on larger canvas feels closer to being part of the painting, he can walk around and immerse himself in to the process (paraphrasing slightly) and i feel very similarly myself. As I’ve mentioned in the previous exercise – as I worked using elongated tools over a large drawing on the floor – it felt natural to walk over the surface and by leaving my imprints i felt connected to the work and the process. Gestural working method leads naturally toward exploring connection between “doing and feeling”. I think this is why, in my opinion, abstract expressionist works was so controversial and explosive in a way. It stirred emotions in the viewer, pushed new buttons and created questions about ways we perceive art, artists and the world as a whole.

Project 2: Mark-Making Materials

Aim: explore variety of tools, media and surfaces

Method: Build up a variety of surfaces using whatever comes to hand that has two differently coloured layers. Make several drawings by scratching through into the second layer. 

I’ve used what i had available at the moment :

Variety of supports  – paper, card, kitchen worktop/vinyl, wood, plaster board, aluminum

Mediums – acrylics, oil, watercolour, inks, bleach, pastels

Tools – cocktail sticks, plastic cards, pipettes, palette knives, knives, brushes, sticks, seed pods/dried flowers etc…

I was not very inspired to start with and it took me a few days to figure out how to approach this – so to start with I gathered the materials to have a variety of surfaces. I liked the idea of producing more finished drawings rather than patches of textures – this helps with the overall direction and idea during the application.

Some of the experiments:

  1. White Oil on Black Vinyl ( piece of kitchen worktop), 33 x 45 cm – Paint was applied as a layer using plastic card, then image of the bird  was scraped out using pallet knives – drawing from imagination definitely not easy but fun. While the bird is not ideal i found the combination of paint and shiny surface of the worktop work well together – the effect of water surface is achieved , especially when viewed from different angles.


2. Plaster board (White), oil pastels, acrylic paint ( B Um), Grey (Mix) mat emulsion, 27 x 57 cm – the surface of the board is paper so  in order to keep it more or less dry I’ve applied oil pastels ( randomly) over the surface first. Acrylic and emulsion was applied over the pastels in “geometric” pattern, it is not based on anything really but what i realized later is that the overall shape looks like my Assign. 1 drawing – some of it anyway.  I decided to let this dry before scraping away – this resulted in harder and narrower lines , which led to the end result being sort of a Cave or Child like drawing. Also some of the paper ( top layer of the plaster board) was damaged during scraping – it added to the texture combination – smooth paint next to fluffy/soft colourfull patches.



3. Tin Aluminum attached to a length of cladding, acrylic, emulsion ( 20 x 11 cm aluminum; 13 x 55 cm piece of cladding) – the aluminum is inside of the cut open can;

Top – subject is the line drawing from part one  – combination of dark paint next to reflective aluminum gives a bit of depth to a simple line here, not sure if the acrylic will stay on this surface for long.

Middle – emulsion on wood – just to use up the space – interesting how uneven surface of wood created wave like pattern.

Bottom – Emulsion on aluminum , subject is the iris from the garden, scraped out using wide pallet knife. Some of the paint dulled the shine of the metal but the combination of mat/reflective still works – this reminds me of the mirrors that have paintings on them.

4. MDF board , acrylic, ink,  drawing is 35 x 40 cm – using flat pallet knife Yellow acrylic paint was applied over unprepared board, then using a pallet knife an image of the tree/grass/poppy was scraped out. Because the surface is unsealed some of the paint got into the cracks this actually helpful for the bark effect. Them I used diluted ink and poured it over ( when paint has dried) – ink filled the gaps and toned the scratched marks/wood.


I think as an idea next time , if to use this approach, i would use ink with less water and pour it directly ( more or less) on the scraped areas, the rest of the surface could be wiped out to create  bigger contrast. Overall i quite like the result – it has potential and textures worked well here.

5. Sketchbook A3 page 13, acrylic, ink – subject is the mug used in previous exercise ( drawing is attached to the back of page 13) – the first layer / marks are made earlier (sometimes i wipe excess paint from a project to start off the page) – here they actually work as the background curtain lines. Using Yellow acrylic ( not sure why yellow , i think because it was sunny when the mug was drawn initially) i covered the page in quite a thick layer then using the drawing of a mug as a guideline  i moved/scraped/ pushed the paint around while wet.


Here i liked how thick paint is almost sculpted, thick impasto next to indented/wiped area creates interesting combination of texture/surfaces. Midway through the drying i poured diluted ink over the paper – i tried to be more specific here applying the ink over shadow ares but used a mister to disperse it slightly, I dabbed excess off using tissue.

I quite like the overall experiment and created result – perhaps some outlines could be added to sharpen some edges, but i think at the moment it replicates the halo of strong sunlight and dazzling effect in the eye. So this i will take forward and try to use in later works.


6. White acrylic over black, canvass , 23 x 31 cm – subject is dried Agapanthus flower/seed heads. While the paint was wet shapes were scraped oiut using a few tools – here the impression of the dried up stalk actually has a very good resemblance t the real ones.


Using same subject as above, I wanted to try and use bleach to reveal the under layer but for some reason did not manage to get the ink/watercolour  to work. I probably need to use different ink or less/more water – for now i just ended up with a few coloured papers, well the’ll get used later.

7. Acrylic Inks, water, bleach, scraping tools, brushes, tissues, A2 sheet of cartridge paper. – in a way this  drawing/painting is a supporting work for the Assignment 2. At the moment in time (spoiler alert ))) I’m planning to use dried up flower heads of Agapanthus, Alliums, poppies and my wire flowers from previous course etc… to make a drawing for the Assignment 2 , but this might change later of course as the experimentation progresses.

This is first time I have used Acrilyc inks – and what a delight – applied over wet paper they disperse in a magical explosion of blooms and patterns, jummy.

I wanted to see if bleach will work with this ink – but no it did not ( i guess i’m doing it wrong) – the colour did not really change much. What bleach did though – it pushed the pigment and water from one area to another , distressed the paper and helped to achieve a very nice grainy/ sediment texture.

While all this was wet i scraped, pushed/pulled, dragged, moved and manipulated the colours to draw the flower heads – the only big difference from real ones is that the stalks are straight rather than curly, but i like it this way it feel as if they are moving in the wind.

I also added more colour and bleach while working, and after it was dry used spray bottle to re-wet the areas; later on i added touches of white acrylic using pallet knife just to add a bit more texture and tonal contrast.

  with the frame ( paper) over

I understand this is probably not exactly scraping away drawing but rather scraping into – but i am pleased with the outcome.




Reflection : This was exploratory exercise but at the beginning not as inspiring as i thought. As i worked on it i started to realize the actual point of it and tuned in with the process. Looking back at the pieces i saw more that just scraped paint – the revealed surface added to the top layer it’s own quality. Texture of layers in combination brings new dimension to the area – shiny metal under mat emulsion, grain of canvass next to flat paint etc. Using tools to apply/scrape out paint while wet feels like sculpting which on it’s own is a very satisfactory process. So Overall I enjoyed the experience and learned a lot about relationship between materials used – they can play a huge role in how the surface affects the viewer along with marks and composition.