Marks of your Choice
In this first page of final mark making warm-up, I jumped at the chance to use the ink again. I dug through my various brushes and started with a 1″ wide, stiff-bristled brush. Working on a page made of two smaller pages taped together initially limited my thinking. Once I began making marks as a sort of sampler, I remembered that the boundaries of the paper are irrelevant and by thinking beyond them could allow for more meaningful exploration. This proved to be the case with the following pages, however, I thoroughly enjoyed layering the marks in slow, deliberate movements. Also, as the ink was used up and dried on the brush, the marks began to change. This was also a very rewarding process.
Having remembered that the edges of the paper and the seam between the two were irrelevant, I began to explore mark making and movement regardless of those perceived boundaries. This allowed for more interesting expression and exploration of the ink/brush combo. This page was created using the India Ink and handmade Mongolian wool locks brush. Going further into some of the marks made in the earlier exercise, I was able to work with the tool and media together to explore its potential further. I had difficulty getting the brush into the inks and had to get a bit messy but overall saw positive results of the exploration.
After a more thorough exploration of this ink/brush combo, I found that the handmade fabric brush could achieve some really beautiful marks. My favourite was the stippling that was created after some of the ink had soaked into the “bristles” and I worked the marks in layers, adding depth to the tone of the layered ink speckles. This was very exciting.
Bookending my work with the handmade brushes with that of conventional paintbrushes illustrated how the assumptions of how conventional tools are intended to perform can limit thinking. I worked with the bamboo calligraphy brush as I assumed I was meant to; loosely, a heavily inked brush and lots of very fluid movements. While the marks were as expected – calligraphic in nature, I was hesitant to make marks not typical of this tool. I think I missed an opportunity with this thinking.
In returning to tools and media introduced in earlier exercises allowed me time to reflect on which combinations I wanted to explore more deeply. While I would absolutely enjoy more time with this kind of practice, I did find both expected and unexpected results. All of those findings were fascinating and gave me more information to think about in future work.