Many artists will say that all drawing and painting involves some form of mark making. A general viewpoint is that as soon as your brush (or whatever tool you use) touches your canvas or paper, you are making a mark! Marks can be lines, scribbles, scratches, smudges, dots, dashes, patterns, textures. All different types of artists use a variety of mark making approaches in their work. Artists may use expressive and intuitive marks in non-objective work, meaning that the work does not represent anything in the natural world. Or perhaps an abstract artist using a dry brush technique might make short, fast lines suggestive of blades of grass even though that association was not intended. The viewer has attributed their own meaning to the lines. On the other hand, the Impressionists used mark making in the form of dabs, hatching and cross hatching to add movement, texture, light and life to the scenes they depicted in their paintings. Marks can be soft and subtle and barely noticeable in some work or they can be bold and intense, occupying a sense of grandness in a work.
Just like Picasso, I enjoy working on newspaper as a pleasant change from painting or drawing on a plain piece of white paper. There is nothing more satisfying to me than the rich black lines you get from using a Sharpie pen directly onto newspaper. It's fun (and relaxing) to outline the newspaper columns or create new forms and designs covering over photos and advertisements. After working at my drafting table for awhile, the smell seems to knock me over and I know its time to open that window and to take a Sharpie break. Then I might add some acrylic paint to the newspaper shapes using the end of a piece of cardboard, a plastic credit card or even a brush to smear or apply the paint. When the paint dries I might bring back more marks with the Sharpie. Painted papers can be used in collage or as solo pieces of work.
Con-Tact Shelving paper has multiple uses both in the home and in the art studio. Because this shelving paper has an adhesive backing, you can cut out shapes from the paper and position on a Mixed mMedia piece where you would like to leave white space showing. Or if you would like to add a new color on top of an underlying layer, you use your stencil to apply the new paint color. You can buy Con-Tact shelving paper in most home stores. Con-Tact Creative Covering Multipurpose Shelf Liner also allows you to reposition the paper so that you can easily lift off your artwork without damaging your project. Thank you to Susan Spaniol for sharing this technique in our WHAL Wednesday afternoon class on Abstract Mark Making.
Don't feel guilty if you are a Mixed media artist who pokes through bundles targeted for charity . Even though I donate toys, clothes, linens, household items to local organizations, I also keep in mind whether a particular object can be used in my art making projects and I separate it out form the giveaways. Let's call it like it is, Mixed media artists are scavengers. In the photo shown, I saved this blue game part to use to create circular patterns in my Mixed media collages. While it looks like a stencil, it was actually part of a child's game unrelated to art. You can draw into the circles or paint over the circles leaving an impression with the paint.
I'm often asked how do I decide on a palette when i am making my Mixed media collages? The answer is, I like to start with browsing through books about textiles from the 1950s or 1960s. I then begin to practice trying to get a certain color just the way I want it. Some days the color happens quite easily and other days for some reason, I struggle. Yes, I am aware that many artists actually know exactly how to mix colors. But, that is not the way I go about the process. I like to stumble onto the color I am after because along the way I end up making new versions of vintage colors which suit me just fine. Poking through older textile books, is just a starting point. Designer shown is Robert Stewart. This 1954 design is called Macrahanish.
It really is true that sometimes the palette with a mixture of the day's paint caked on can appear at times to be more interesting than the work in progress. The same can be said for the glorious accidental spills and drips and strokes that appear on the under sheets or table coverings that many of us place down on our workspace before beginning a Mixed Media project. I always encourage new students to intentionally work on top of layers of paper. My favorite paper to use under work is 18 X 24 Drawing paper (which comes in gummed pads at your local art store) or rolls of white paper (Restaurant supply companies). These wonderful painted papers can be torn and used in collages or worked back into later as paintings and drawings without tearing.
A few years back I was totally known as the "Doodling Diva" . With a background as a compulsive doodler, word got out that I was the go to person on all matters concerning doodling. I even wrote a humorous manuscript on personality traits and doodling and continued to stay current on all aspects of doodling or automatic drawing as it is sometimes called . When I shifted from an interest in the psychology of doodling to the actual art of making intricate doodles, I was encouraged to "upgrade" my art vocabulary by shifting from talking about my work as "doodles" to referring to my Mark making as pen and ink art. Whatever you want to call it, I like to "doodle" with Sharpies of all sizes because with a lot of experience you can control your lines and movements. I am about to venture into the "real" pen and ink world by trying out "real" ink and "real" old fashioned pens. Wish me luck and check back on my progress.
I am trying to come up with a title for an upcoming Art show. Some days it seems like every good name has been used. I have done what so many artists do when they are searching for a name that will grab attention and hopefully bring interest in their work.... they stare at their body of work hoping the paintings will begin speaking with a brilliant answer! I've talked to my abstract mixed media collages all week and so far nuttin'. My watercolors were silent too and my pastels and ink pieces are also keeping under the radar. I've considered following the advice of a favorite author and blogger, Austin Kleon who suggests that one "Steal Like an Artist". Should I refer to the big box of old Art show promotional postcard from others and recycle a name? Would I be better thinking of a name without referencing others so that I can pretend i was original? At this moment in time, I am Ferklempt! Hey that has a certain ring to it....maybe that's going to be my name for my show.
A great way to learn about cool design when making abstract art is to take a look at Jazz album covers from the 1950s for examples of hip style, design, color and composition. Many people get STUCK in making the same shapes and sometimes even make the same size shapes over and over. That is not art, it is wallpaper. And I should know, because I have been a member of that club for years. So I began going online and looking at lots and lots of album covers form the 1940s-1950s. This album cover shown, was designed by Burt Goldblatt for American jazz tenor saxophonist Don Byas. In particular I am interested in Goldblatt's use of the very large pink/white boomerang shape (a very common 1950s) element and it's relationship to the green background. Take a good look at this album and notice how line, shape, color, value relate to each other. You can indeed learn so much by exploring old jazz albums for inspiration for your own artwork.
Scribbling seems so easy when you are a toddler and you just let yourself draw freely without any conscious thoughts about what you are doing. Fast forward to being an adult and all of a sudden you can't move your hand without overthinking your modus operandi. Am I making lines too soft, too long, too dark, too crooked? You get the drill, mark making becomes tedious instead of relaxed and free. Don't get me wrong, sometimes you want a very careful deliberate line or mark, but more often than not for abstract artists, making marks is a very spontaneous process. So with this concept in mind, I have developed my newest art class "MAKING YOUR MARK IN CONTEMPORARY ART" which will run at The West Hartford Art League this Fall on Wednesday afternoons. Here is the link for more information http://www.cdiannezweig.com/workshops/
Like so many other artists, I seem to have my favorite palette when I am either painting or creating Mixed Media Abstract collages. A fan of the colors of the 1950s, I'm just not happy unless I have done a piece with a fair amount of turquoise, chartreuse, grey and of course some mixture which includes one of my favorites...Payne's grey along with whatever blue is hanging around on my paint table. It is really hard for me to reach for the warmer colors, but adding an accent of red, or orange or pink is so critical when you need to spice up a piece!
I am hooked on Sharpie pens for mark making. But every time I think that I own every single black permanent marker made, I discover yet another gem from this company. My newest art "toy" is a big fat chunky oil based black paint pen marker with permanent ink. Favorites among graffiti artists this product creates a shiny thick line which appears to cover over almost all over media. You get started by shaking the paint pen and then once you remove the cover, you are good to go and can make gorgeous black marks to your heart's content. As you can see, I have really "broken in my Sharpie paint pen.