How to explore ‘mark making’ and get great results.

How to explore ‘mark making’ and get great results.

To the uninitiated ‘mark making’ sounds a bit pretentious, but I am not sure what else you could call it without making it sound childish and lacking in skill.

The art of making marks to represent the world around us and how we respond to that world, has been going on for thousands of years.

cave photoPhoto source Wikipedia


Think caveman drawings. Man has been recording his environment in this pictorial way ever since, but the ‘modern’ form of ‘mark making’ is often not, these days, pictorial.
Today, ‘mark making’ tends to be rather more a response to how we see, feel, think, hear or react to the world about us.
There are lots of amazing artists out there marking a career out of their form of ‘mark making’ but I thought it might be fun to talk you through having a go yourself.

So, what do you need?

Below you will see some items I have gathered together to get started but anything you find, beg borrow and steal (only if it won’t get you into trouble) can be used.



drawing stuff

The best way to start is to have a liquid and a stick of some kind. Some thin paint or ink and a twig could easily be your starting point.
And then just see what different kind of marks you can make using the stick and the paint. You can drag it, bounce it, roll it and so to make marks you could do with a pencil. A twig will hold the paint in a different way to a pen or pencil, so the outcome becomes unpredictable. This in turn allows you to make marks which you wouldn’t normally make.
Once you have exhausted the stick, try something else you wouldn’t normally think of drawing with. A flower head, a toilet roll with elastic bands around it, a sponge or a ball, roll it or bounce it around the paper, what marks do you find you enjoy making the most.

And then try adding colour.


Most people when they first try this start with Indian ink and a variety of items to make those marks. And some people never move from these items, but, as you know, I love colour and there are so many ways colour can be brought into this simple but fun way of making art for yourself.


So, the next thing is to introduce colour. My preference is ink, but I also use acrylic paint. You can add the colour to the original drawings you produced, or you can start afresh with the colour and see what else you can create.

It is playtime, you are not trying to produce a masterpiece, you are exploring what differences you can produce using unusual scribes.

You could take the hair from your hairbrush and twist it tight, wrap some tap around it to make a handle and see what marks you can make with that. Corrugated cardboard, cellophane, lollypop sticks, leaves, grasses, makeup sponges, feathers, straws, the list of possibilities is endless.

Having enjoyed making these marks where do you go next.

Firstly, keep all of the experiments because they form a library of marks for you to refer to when making your art. Then when you are painting rocks, for instance, and you are looking for texture, refer to your marks and see which ones would work best. And the same can be applied to anything you are creating. Different marks, textures and tones along with the colour, composition, space and form all need to be considered when making your art.

sketch book page


If you hop over to my Instagram or Facebook feeds you can see how starting points like this one above, progress in my concertina sketchbooks. or


I love making these books, I love teaching other people how to get started and then keep going with these books. They are such great fun, you do not need to have had any previous art experience as was proved by a group of ladies who joined me for a 70th birthday party celebration.

One lady was convinced that she couldn’t draw a straight line but the work she produced was beautiful.

The picture below shows the work that all the ladies produced in the class. It was such a great day.

sketch books

Aren’t they fantastic?

I am so proud of them all.

To find out about the classes I teach and to see how my sketch books finish up, please do click on the photo below and it will take you to my website where you can see so much more.

Also if you want to see what make sketchbooks feed into, you can visit my website and see how those marks are used by me to make my larger pieces. or 

Visit my website at



2 Responses

  1. I like this kind of free flowing creativity!

  2. Good to know, thank you

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