MAKING MARKS BY ABUSING YOUR PAPER SURFACE
Find sharp implements in your workbox, tool box, kitchen drawers that you can use to tear into the surface of your sketchbook pages. For these examples, I used a seam ripper and a blunt craft knife blade that was sharp enough to effect the cartridge surface.
Last week you were asked to conjure up linear rhythms in your drawings by listening to the beat of music or the rhythm of a dance step. This week you will be creating different linear rhythms by conscientiously changing something as you draw your lines across the page. Repeatedly changing simple elements along a line such as width or direction or tweak of some sort can establish a visual rhythm. These two pages show lines that are but with a slight difference each time, using the same rhythm, but altering it slightly in each row so that the overall page gives a sense of a developing composition
The left one is made up of lines that are made a bit like a sideways zigzag or backstitch format; each line is stretched and spaced out a bit more each time as the lines are drawn towards the right hand edge of the page. The lines in the right drawing have a sort of zigzag ‘judder’ along each one, but in a different place developing a more accentuated ‘judder’ as the lines progress towards the bottom of the page.
Try this idea yourself using a pencil of pen before involving different media. Keep working with this idea of progressive rhythms as you turn to the following methods.
As I was doing the drawing on this page below, I was aware of the similarity to the repetitive nature of hand writing and how your loops and swirls seem to unconscientiously make rhythms within a line of writing – especially if asked to write the same work or phrase over and over again. (Perhaps you can remember doing that as a punishment at school!!)
This rhythm was drawn with the point of a seam ripper (seem left) onto a sketchbook page that was cover with wet ink – quite a watery one – in fact using just the dirty water from the water pot in a brush that was not rinsed out! The sharp metal point ripped into the WET paper surface so that the ink collected in the soft paper fibres of the cartridge paper page. Hasn’t the black writing ink become lovely colours! I’ve no idea where that blue came from!
Other drawings which use the same method, also reflect the rhythms in hand writing, even though they have no recognisable letter forms. The drawing below shows how the sharp point of the seam ripper has really broken the paper surface in the central area but the first lines drawn on the left and the last lines on the right were much gentler and just scored the surface. The watery ink was applied with a thick paint brush in vertical columns which you can see make a lighter grading from left to right which all adds to the rhythm of this drawing.
The two images below show two stages of a drawing onto wet pages of watery ink. The final stage in the right hand drawing has been gently rubbed over with the side of a piece of white chalk to emphasise the raised burrs made by the point of the seam ripper.
Another item of ‘paper abuse’ I found was an old craft knife blade – seem on the right in this image below. This made wonderful burrs as it was scraped heavily over the paper surface. This was done after the watery ink had been applied so the paper was nice and soft and ready to accept a bit of ‘abuse’. This sharp edge wanted to make its own type of mark even though I was still trying to make similar rhythmical marks as before – the craft blade giving a new character to my marks.
The rhythmical lines below left have been made with the same craft blade, but this time the blade has been scraped into a different type of surface. The ground surface has been made from two layers of media - one on top of the other – a layer of blue oil pastels on top of a layer of plain wax candle in this case. This method of drawing is call sgrafitto, where one surface is scraped away to reveal an underlying surface.
Both the wax candle and the oil pastels were thickly applied in order to make the scraped off marks clearly visible. You can see the blue oil pastels being applied thickly in the right image below, but the plain candle wax is white so not visible – until the blue is scraped off, of course, as in the left image.
If you’d like to try this method to make your rhythmical drawings, I suggest that you do a trial page in your sketchbook first to see which combinations of media work best for you. Remember that both should be applied heavily to give solid coverings, especially the lower layer which should completely cover the cartridge surface.
Here is my test page. It is a bit scruffy as it is well used to remind me of what combinations work and what aren’t as effective. All the patches in the left vertical column have candle wax as they’re bottom layer; the patches in the second column from the left have wax crayon in the bottom layers; the patches in the second column from the right have oil pastel in the bottom layers; the patches in the right column have a stabilo pencil wax crayon in the bottom layers. You can see the labels to show what medium has been added to the lower layers and lines scratched into them to test the effectiveness of each combination of media. It was a fun exercise to do.
The page below has been prepared with a layer of candle wax and black oil pastel and then rhythmical marks made with the blade edge.
The page below has been prepared with a layer of wax crayons on the bottom and in the top layer, a large felt marker (left half) and black writing ink (right half). Note that liquid such as ink will normally be repelled by the waxy surface as you can see here with the blobby surface. A tip is to add a small drop of washing up liquid to the ink - in an old jar lid, as below, just to mix a small amount and not to the whole ink pot.
The right image below shows how the rhythmical lines have been placed in a diagonal way as if radiating out of a corner of the page.
The final drawing of this lesson shows rhythmical lines drawn in two different directions which forms a sort of grid pattern from the same type of rhythmical lines I used earlier and above.
I hope you’ll enjoy finding implements that are good to score and incise the surface of your sketchbook pages and developing ways in which you can create lines that show interesting rhythmical patterns.
Keep a look out for interesting rhythmical patterns in your environment as you will be drawing examples of visual rhythms next week. Perhaps as you look at tree branches or the way a bunch of group of flower stems appear; notice the way long grass sways in the breeze or the way sand seems to ripple. Take photos if you see a good example. Lesson 15 will be posted on Monday 18th August.