Make your mark! …even if you’re not an artist

le Château de St Marc Jaumegarde
le Château de St Marc Jaumegarde

Please don’t tell me you’re not an artist!  I’m not asking you to be one.  Would you like to try…to create…to comprehend?  I’m sharing what I learn as I continue to improve my craftsmanship.  Go ahead and let yourself play!

Continuing with Graham Collier's Form, Space & Vision, published by Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ, in 1963; here’s a lesson in DRAWING MARKS 1: lines and marks with ink

When a person draws a line, it is as personal to him as his own fingerprint:  a line is a person’s direct response, through drawing, to an experience… the degree of sensitivity depends on the expressiveness of the person’s touch, the quality of his mood, and the type of medium he employs….  As you draw, the paper, depending on the type of surface, will set up a resistance to the pen or brush or finger or piece of wood.  How you overcome this resistance will obviously also determine the quality of your line….  The line of drawing, however it is accomplished, evolves from the attempt to reconcile the tensions that exist between perceiving the object and imaginatively recreating it through drawing—between the factual, substantial reality of the object and the artist’s imaginative exploration of it.  You may create a line without actually drawing it, where two areas of different tone or color meet in a design.

Starting with a blank sheet of white paper (about 15” x 22”—rough or smooth, according to preference), try to produce as many different vertical lines as possible, working over the sheet from left to right.  First, however, assemble as much drawing ‘equipment’ as possible, from the conventional pen and brush to more unorthodox materials such as rubber bands, pieces of twig or wood, edges of paper, the edge of a thumbnail, hair grips and curlers, and so on—as varied a range of things as can be dipped in black ink to make a line of drawing.

Start at the left with the lightest possible lines.  Gradually build up as you move across the paper to heavy, thick lines.  After this, combine both thick and thin into one line, a swelling line that is alternately thick and thin throughout its whole length.  Try doing this first with the pen and the brush and leave a little space between the marks; then, in those spaces, repeat the variations of line, but this time use all the equipment you have gathered together.  Experiment with every single piece—metal, wood, bone, paper or plastic.  As the lines go down, be aware of the quality of mark produced—sharp or dull, gray or black, firm or broken—and try to remember the particular ‘feel’ of the instrument that made the mark as it was moving over the paper surface.  Some will particularly suit you, producing a definite feeling of control and of satisfaction while the line was being made.  Finally, draw lines with your left hand, lines starting at the bottom of the paper and finishing at the top, lines where you press hard on your drawing instrument, overcoming strong paper resistance, lines when the instrument is almost dry of ink, and lines when it is flooded with ink.  Then, on top of all this, try a few lines which will have a completely different character, lines which you will print rather than draw.  For example, ink the edge of a ruler, press the ruler onto the paper, and see what you have; repeat this ruler-line, but this time dampen the paper area beneath the ruler and then compare this line with the first.  You might even print a line from a piece of string.  All these variations—and there are many more you can invent—produce a different line quality.

Take one of the natural objects used for the structure drawings of Form I and redraw it.  But this time draw it spontaneously and naturally.  Use any drawing instrument and line method (or combinations of them) that you found particularly attractive when making the line sheet.  On this occasion, you are not analyzing or probing structure; you have to attack the object and work spontaneously and rapidly to complete it in two or three minutes at the most.  The drawing you produce will be an impression of the object—yet it will be more than this.  Your attack is based on knowledge—the knowledge of the fragmentation of space and the line direction determined by the organic quality of the object, which you have learned from previously drawing its skeletal structure.  And bemuse your recently gained knowledge of ink marks and lines will help you to ‘let go’ in your quick, two-minutes attack, the resulting drawing will be both a swift statement of appearances and a remembered statement of fact. 


[the next lesson here]

[More adventures in art here.]


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