Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Two Important Functions of Pastel Marks

'Invite the Bees'               6x12              pastel                   ©Karen Margulis
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The marks are important. The way you apply the pastel matters. Not only do they reflect your style, they help express your message. I have discovered that my marks have two important functions:

1. Marks help describe.  The way you make your marks can help describe your subject. Look at the poppy painting in this post. There are a variety of marks. The flowers are painted with broad and bold marks that go in the direction of the form of the flower. The grasses are painted with thinner linear strokes painted in the direction the grasses are growing.
Take advantage of making marks that help describe the things you are painting!

2. Marks show emotion. Big bold, small and precise.....the way you make marks says a lot about you. It is how you express yourself with pastel. You can adjust your marks to express a mood or feeling.
Take advantage of making marks that help show the emotion you feel about your subject.

I'd like to share a handout from a recent class I taught on mark making. Feel free to try the exercises!

Embrace Your Calligraphy

A Focus on Mark Making in Pastel Painting

Calligraphy is the art of beautiful writing. In pastel painting it refers to the way each artist produces marks, most often referring to linear marks. 

Every artist has their own personal way of making marks. Just as we all have unique handwriting we make unique marks when painting.

Discover your own personal calligraphy and embrace it!

Here are some suggested exercises to help you discover and refine your own personal calligraphy:

  • Study other art especially pastel work. Look at the marks. Do small studies and duplicate the marks you see using your own subject.
  • Abstracts: Look at other pastel paintings (books, Pastel Journal, online galleries) Use a tool such as a viewfinder to isolate a small section. Paint the section concentrating on duplicating the marks.
  • Paint a simple subject such as an apple using several kinds of marks: linear, scribbles,hatching and cross hatching, stippled,side stokes,blended.
  • Compare blended marks with unblended by painting two versions of the same subject…one blended and one with visible marks.
  • Practice your Touch…..how light can you paint? How heavy?
  • Paint large!  Do a painting that is at least 16x20. How does the size effect your marks?



The above exercises are meant to help you experiment with marks and show you the many possibilities that we have with pastels. Now it is up to you to just paint! The more you paint them more your own personal calligraphy will emerge. Don’t force it. Just paint, see what happens and embrace it!

1 comment:

robertsloan2art said...

Wonderful article and some great exercises! That last will be tough but may get a good day later on this summer. If I do, it'll be an exercise in fast concise large marks, I think. Or go unfinished. I might plan it to use the underpainting or color of the ground as part of the composition.