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).


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.


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.


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.


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 ink, 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.