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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Do You Have Mark Making Envy?

'My Friend Raven'               5x7                  pastel                ©Karen Margulis
painting available $50
 It happens to me. I admire a painting. I study it. Maybe it is the color palette I like. Maybe it is the subject. But often it is the the marks...the way the pastel is applied. Oil and acrylic has brushwork. We admire an artist's brushwork. In pastel we don't call it brushwork  but the way an artist applies the pastel is often known as mark-making.

The way an artist makes marks is unique to that artist. It is like handwriting. No two artists have the same calligraphy or application of pastel just as no one has the same handwriting. 

When mark envy occurs we often wish we could make our marks the way we see others do. "If only I could apply the pastel like __________"  We could try to copy but ultimately it wouldn't be authentic. It would be forced. We all have natural tendencies in our way of making marks. Some of us like linear marks, some of us like big broad strokes. Some have soft feathery strokes.

close up of linear marks
I like to remind myself that I have my own natural way of making marks. The best advice I can give is for you to discover your natural tendencies and EMBRACE  your own personal calligraphy. Make the way you apply pastel your own statement.  I have some more thoughts on mark-making which I will share in upcoming blog posts.

What is your personal calligraphy? Line up 5 recent paintings. Look at them and try to define the types of marks you made....linear? Side stokes, Light hand? heavy hand? Bold marks? delicate marks? Write down your observations.

What choices do you have? Sometimes it is fun to try different types of marks. This allows you to see what feels the most comfortable. Try a simple subject such as an apple and do several small studies changing the type of marks you use.


Gayle said...

Thank you Karen. I've been reading many articles lately regarding finding one's own style and yours really prompted an "A-Ha" moment as well as a sound tip in how to identify one's own unique mark. You helped me out of that overwhelming hopelessness from viewing so many awesome paintings online over the past 2 years and judging my own by comparison. So much appreciated!

rose said...

Thank you.. this is liberating because I try to emulate something I like then without realizing it, before long I have slipped back into my own way. you have given me permission to do just that!! Rose

robertsloan2art said...

Wonderful article!

I have found that it helps to study other artists' mark making. That's like learning how to write in another language. It will deepen and enrich mark making.

I got into Asian watercolor and ink painting, then years later friends started telling me my pastels seemed Asian influenced. It happens by itself. Trying to learn a new letter form or style, my vocabulary's better or tool box enhanced. From then on, I don't need to think about that. It's just there.

I used to use just the tips of pastels most of the time, but a few years ago copied side strokes in a class and began to get a lot more painterly. Your demos and videos are great for that study! The more different marks I get used to making, the more expressive everything I paint is. Thank you!