Exercise 0.1

Marks with Conventional Tools

Sitting down with brand new mark making tools and paper was both daunting and exciting. Let the mark making begin. (note all papers are actually white but winter light turned it a bit blue – sorry)


First tool – I chose to begin with the graphite sticks as they would force me to make direct contact with the mark-making material right out of the gate. While I did get a bit of graphite on my hands, it wasn’t as much as I had anticipated. I did choose two different hardnesses – 4B and 8B. The graphite floated across the paper fluidly and produced beautifully varied marks – narrow and broad. The 4B marks were heavier pigment and the 8B was a softer line

Ok, enough of the messy stuff. My next tool was the Tombow felt pen. These pens are dual ended – a soft, flexible brush tip and a rigid bullet tip.

This tool made marks in ways I mostly anticipated that it would. Soft, fluid lines that when varied pressure was applied, offered both heavy and light marks. 

The pen tip made very consistent marks. Sharp, even. No real variation. When pressure was lightened, the pen tip didn’t allow for softer marks, rather it just left the paper altogether.  

Graphite pencils were the next tool – I was curious to see how they compared to the graphite sticks. 

In experimenting with both curved and jagged shapes, I discovered that this media was well suited to both. I also found that by varying the pressure, I could achieve very different effects. Heavy, dark lines or soft, wispy marks. Very similar to the graphite sticks, but one difference being that the mark-making end was round as opposed to the more square-like shape of the sticks. This forced me to manipulate the pencil to find a flat edge with which to achieve the broad and fine edge marks that were more easily made with the sticks. Cleaner hands, though. 

This was my first attempt at using India Ink. The first thing I noticed was the multi-sensory nature of the ink. The first of my senses that was engaged was my sense of smell. The earthy, ancient scent of the ink immediately engaged my imagination and I was excited to see how it felt to move this media on the paper. 

Using a Japanese calligraphy brush, I tentatively made circular marks. Gaining confidence, I attempted heavier, more assertive marks. 

Discovering that the ink allowed for variation of tone, depending on quantity and angle of pressure allowed for some very interesting marks. Some of this discovery was made after the marks had dried. 

I will admit, leaving the pencil crayons to follow the excitement of the India Ink was an anticlimactic decision. These marks were all as I knew they would be. Heavy to faint, depending on pressure was as I had expected. Cross hatching produced the results that I was expecting, as did the swirl marks and the jagged ones. I am optimistic that I will uncover some new results of the pencil crayons in time. 

My overall takeaway from this warm up exercise is that there is much to be uncovered about the potential of these and future mark-making tools. I found that in making similar marks but varying the tools, I was able to discover which ones made the marks in the desired way. There were definitely surprises and disappointments. Perhaps in my next exercise, I’ll attempt to have a more open mind and fewer expectations.