Project 1: Exercise 1: Experimenting with Expressive Lines and Marks

For this exercise, I decided to stick to pencil (a mix of HB, 4B and 6B), black chalk, black conté stick and black acrylic printing ink to try to show what I believe to represent the four topics; pencils for calm (due to their light, fine detail), chalk for sadness (due to its lightness, but slight lack of control), black conté stick for joy (to represent the control similar to a pencil, but the boldness of the colour to represent the intensity of the stronger emotion), and printing ink to represent anger (as this media is quite a thick, dense liquid, I felt it would be best suited to the mood as it helps show a lack of control in the flow and intensity of the darkness in anger).


Calm: (Top Left – Pencil, Top Right – Black Chalk, Bottom Left – Black
Conté, Bottom Right – Black Printing Ink)

I decided to begin my exercise with the word ‘calm’ as this was, I thought, the most neutral of all of the emotions chosen and was a good base to start with.  I decided to forgo thoughts whilst creating each section and to just allow my arm to do as it pleased.  I quickly realised what represents ‘calm’ to me are swirls and light, delicate touches with the chosen media.  I found the pencils moved smoothly and freely over the page, as did the conté sticks as they held more control, whereas the chalk did not flow quite so smoothly and the ink barely at all.  I thought, however, the shade of the pencils and chalk were light and delicate, which I felt suited the mood better than the boldness of the conté stick and ink.


(Top Left – Pencil, Top Right – Black Chalk, Bottom Left – Black
Conté, Bottom Right – Black Printing Ink)

For this emotion, I decided to once again allow my arm to flow freely.  I found that I was sluggish in my movements and was pulled naturally in a downward pattern.  I felt the pencil and conté stick did not create enough of an impact for the mood, whereas I thought the chalk’s boldness yet slight lack of control fitted perfectly.  I liked how the printing ink seems to lessen in intensity as it flows down the page, almost as though tears were rolling down a face.


(Top Left – Pencil, Top Right – Black Chalk, Bottom Left – Black
Conté, Bottom Right – Black Printing Ink)

I felt ‘joy’ represented a similar amount of control to that of ‘calm’, but with short bursts of energy in lines raising upwards almost like a firework, as opposed to free-flowing swirls or sluggish downward-pulling movements.  Again, I do not think the pencil does the mood justice here as its intensity is very lacking, however, I feel the charcoal and ink do not show enough control or vibrancy which I experienced with this emotion.  I really like the conté stick piece as I feel that portrays the emotion the best for what it means to me – almost like the crispness of vision in an adrenaline rush.


(Top Left – Pencil, Top Right – Black Chalk, Bottom Left – Black
Conté, Bottom Right – Black Printing Ink)

For this emotion, I found I had no self-control whatsoever.  I found my arm slashing and jabbing in short bursts with no thought to their aim or impact.  Again, the pencil does not do this mood justice as its marks are too faint and feeble to express the strength you seem to find from nowhere when angry.  Whilst I think the chalk and conté stick create a good representation of the mood, I am more drawn to the boldness and intensity of the printing ink due to the thickness of its texture and the lack of control I experienced when trying to manipulate it.


Upon reflection, I think I have learned that pencil is not always the best tool to express emotions and works better for the ‘happier’ moods, whereas the boldness and intensity of the printing in, conté stick and somewhat the chalk, all work better for the ‘darker’ moods.  I found I enjoyed working on the ‘anger’ pieces the most due to the fact I enjoyed the messiness of it and the lack of restriction and self-control the ‘happier’ moods seem to require.  I think if I were to redo these pieces, I would choose media such as watercolour pens and markers for the happier moods as, whilst pencil works well for calm, I do not think it portrays mood well at all, regardless of what emotion that is.

Drawing 1: Exercise 1: Warm-up – Temporary Drawings

Before beginning this exercise, I had a think about what temporary art meant to me and the thoughts and feelings it invoked. I found the idea of it frustrated me as I couldn’t quite understand why anyone would want to put so much effort, time and energy into something which would be washed away in a matter of seconds, minutes, hours etc. It felt quite sad knowing that it would not be around for the masses to view, such as a masterpiece hanging in a gallery for decades at a time. Whilst reluctant to begin this task, and also unsure as to what method to use, I decided to wait until the timing felt natural and I could give the biggest dedication level I could to it.

Whilst doing my weekly cleaning, I reached the stage where I would polish the fronts of my kitchen cupboards. My children and husband were not around and I had a bit of time to relax and focus. I decided to see what would happen if I were to attempt to use my polish as a spray paint substitute.

I didn’t really think about what I wanted to do with the spray, or how I wanted the design to go, I just decided to let my arm choose where it wanted to go and what it wanted to do.

Since being diagnosed with Essential Tremor, I have found I am rather drawn to the spiral as this shape helps to assess the intensity of my tremor and also the angles at which it is worst (usually 2 o’clock).

First Stage: Creating a spiral

I started by just spraying the spiral shape and to fade it out slightly as I went on. I then decided to draw curved lines throughout the spiral to give it a sense of being 3D. After this, I thought I could leave it there, but decided it was not sharp enough or quite as ‘finished’ as I would like, so I proceeded to rub a line throughout the shape’s outline to enhance the resemblance to a shell, which it was apparent it was beginning to take the form of without any conscious prior willing for it to do so by my mind.

Once the outline was complete, I decided to try and create a beach effect with the spray, so at first I held it facing parallel to the cupboard door, but then changed it so I was pointing it downwards to create a dripping effect to represent the tide’s ebb and flow.

I then used a sponge to dab the spray to create a grain effect to emphasise the sand detail.

I then added a brief spray at the top of the door to resemble clouds but mostly to fill the empty space. The spray splattered a little, but I left this as I thought it resembled stars and created the appearance that the whole picture was actually a twilight image. Whilst creating the piece though, the time of day of the piece had not even entered my mind.

Finished piece


On looking back on my work, I think I was a little reserved in my approach to the task, as I did not feel it was quite my style of working.  However, I did create a piece and think it turned out quite well considering there was no muse or prior planning.  I really like the contrast between the dark and light and how effectively the shading comes across.  I do think, however, that my lines could have been a little straighter and less jagged in places.  I also think I could have experimented with more tools (such as kitchen roll, crumpled tin foil or adding colour with spices etc).  I also think that I could have improved the weight of the shell by having the sand start higher up, as though the shell were lay down on the sand, as I do not think a shell of this size or shape would be able to stand in this way, so it slightly ruins how believable the piece is. Overall, this piece opened my eyes to experimenting more than I usually would and being willing to see ‘what if?’.  It has definitely awoken my artist side and increased my excitement to begin my learning and experimentation journey.