Friday, January 23, 2015

Mark Making

A lot of the visual art world likes to talk about mark making. Mark making, the code words for just getting something down on paper, or cutting into fabric, or using your hands in clay, can be an intimidating thing.

Over the holidays I moved away from doing much visual art. I did a lot of cooking and baking and reading. I knit and I played keyboard. I visited with my family and watched football and concerts and dramas. I spent time with photography and Photoshop and did some writing. And I worked on a new website for my knitting company.

What I did not do was any mark making in the sense of picking up a pen or a pencil or some paint and just getting something on paper. By mid January, I needed a breakthrough to restart my drawing juices.

That breakthrough came late this month as I have been photographing birds at the feeders. None of the photo are stellar, but they do provide a source for sketching. This chickadee is the first of several sketches that might become watercolors. I'm just glad to see the work coming on the lines and shapes of these birds.

The next day I tried a winter tree in watercolor. I started with Alwyn Cranshaw's little book "You Can Paint" and copied the drawing and used the suggested colors.

I had been noticing tree "bones," the outlines of trunks and branches against the winter landscape as I drive across Huron County, but I had not put any of those observations down on paper. This one tree got me started. I didn't get out the right brush and I hurried the work, but I made some marks.

Finally, two days later, I grabbed a Technalo pencil (it is water soluble so it can be moistened with a brush and turned into graphite wash) and started drawing a pattern that has been scrambling around my brain. Now that I see the pattern on paper, I might take this further by making it larger and adding color.

All of this mark making feels good. The tools still work in my hands. My brain circuits are firing with color and line. I'm back to some mark making and that's good.

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