Wednesday, February 9, 2011

making marks

laura c-w here again with some ideas about making marks

"Draw" is a four letter word.
So is "mark".
So is ""make".
What's my point?
Simply this. As two-leggeds, we are compelled to make marks.
We need language and we need meaning.
Mark making fills both those needs.
Some mark making is about words, some is about more abstract issues.
We have learned to use specific marks to communicate ideas.
None of us were born knowing how to make marks that stood for verbal communication. However, all of us come in with the desire to leave our mark - in something.

When we hold our mark making tool (pencil, pen, crayon, whatever) as if it were a writing tool, our brain gets this message:
We are naming things, labeling them, quantifying. Our "left brain" is in gear, on high alert.
This is how we were trained when we were taught hand writing.

On the other hand (pun intended!), if we hold the tools as an extensions of our index fingers, then we can make marks without language skills interfering.
Every two legged on the planet makes marks in the sand, dust, gravel, whatever. It is instinctual. Making a mark is, perhaps, part of our need to leave a record.
Try this:
Hold your pen, pencil, crayon as an extension of your index finger.
Let your finger / hand trace the spaces around what you are looking at.
Vary the pressure on the implement.
Just be a mark maker.

Try this a few minutes every day: play with varying the kinds of marks you can make, holding your tools in different ways and varying the pressure.
Once you are more comfortable, get intentional about letting your hand document what your eye sees (not what your brain thinks you see!). You will soon find that your marks are expressive and personal and that "drawing" is coming more easily.
the pencil as an extension of the index finger:

side view of same


  1. Love this, Laura! I am currently reading/doing "Drawing on the right side of the Brain" and so I understand what you are saying! I'm off to my studio! Thanks for sharing!

  2. In an exercise created by Carla Sonheim I was asked to draw using my non-dominant hand. I thought for sure it would come out like a nondescript scribble. Well, it turned out better than the same sketch with my dominant hand! I was so surprised and excited that I've been regularly sketching with my non-dominant hand.

    I think this is a similar principle right? I'm off to try this and I have a feeling it's going to be addicting. Thanks!

  3. BRILLIANT! Thanks so much for this!

  4. WOW! Thank you for this. Always looking for more ways into drawing and mark making.


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