The Aesthetic Movement

The Great Exhibition in 1851 was meant to be a showcase of modern designs, art and technologies, especially during the industrial age of that time with its many discoveries and world explorations. However, many artists felt like the works that were showcased during the exhibition was hideous. They felt that the beauty in art was lost, as if they were made by machines (Victoria and Albert Museum, 2011). This has led to the beginning of the Aesthetic Movement of which the main intention of creating art purely for the aesthetics without any political or social meanings behind it, hence the term: Art for art’s sake. It was started to deconstruct and to contrast with the Victorian traditions and also traditions of art that requires meaning behind them (Easby, 2016). They also had the idea that excellent craftsmanship should be in all forms of artwork.

Artworks created under the Aesthetic Movement goes against the norms of the Victorian era and hence the artists and the art were mocked by traditional Victorians who still held on strongly to their values (Karuga, 2017). The movement also supports the idea that art should not be just be limited to artworks but it should be applied to everyday life (Victoria and Albert Museum, 2011). It could be expressed through different mediums such as metals, ceramics, clothing and even turned into furniture. This gave creative freedom to artists from different forms of art such as poets, sculptors, musicians, carpenters, smiths, fashion and interior designers (Karuga, 2017). This would, in turn, help each of these forms of art flourish and become a stepping stone towards modern art. Artists explored forms, both natural and geometric, and also turn their studies into simplified lines. Some artists even took reference and studied previous art styles, such as Renaissance art, where the beauty of the male anatomy was seen with equal importance as the female (Victoria and Albert Museum, 2011). Also, since it was a time of exploration and discovery, some artists studied or even collected art from outside of Britain, such as Asia and the Middle East, such as the art styles from Japan, which has also inspired the Japonisme. (MacCarthy, 2011)

One of the more prominent artists of the Aesthetic Movement was Christopher Dresser. He believed that good taste and design would never improve until it was made available to the majority. Initially, good design was only available to those who could afford it, such as the upper class and the wealthy, due to the excellent craftsmanship. So, Dresser designed items that even the more affordable works are well designed. He made his designs cater to the different groups of people and made them affordable. He also believed that items should preferably be both useful and decorative (HeadHandHeart, 2012).

Christopher Dresser also sold items from overseas, like Asia and Africa, as these items had unique aesthetic values in them – something different from what the Victorians are used to seeing. He also made these items affordable due to the difference in exchange rates between the countries. In his design works, he took his reference of natural objects and designs, like plant forms and animal movements, and studies them. He would then turn these studies into simplified lines and forms which he would stylise and turn into his designs. After his trip to Japan in 1877, his works started to take on more interesting forms and styles, influenced by the Japanese design styles. He also started to explore and use more metals in his works, especially silverware. Another thing that he adopted from the Japanese culture was putting his name onto the works that he produced. This was also considered as an early form of branding (HeadHandHeart, 2012).

The Aesthetic Movement was an early stepping stone for the arts to move towards the modern era. With artists such as Christopher Dresser with his works and studies from years ago still inspiring modern artists today, it shows that works and inspiration could start from anywhere and sometimes deconstruction of an existing style is the first step to creating a better one.


Easby, R. M. (2016, June 3). The Aesthetic Movement. Retrieved from

[HeadHandHeart]. (2012, October 23). Christopher Dresser – TRUTH BEAUTY POWER [Video File]. Retrieved from

Karuga, J (2017, September 16). Art Movements Throughout History: The Aesthetic Movement. Retrieved from

MacCarthy, F (2011, March 26). The Aesthetic Movement. Retrieved from

Victoria and Albert Museum. (2011, April 7). Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement 1860-1900 [Video File]. Retrieved from

Making a Mark – Research

What is mark-making?

A simple Google search led me to a simple definition on

“Mark making is a term used to describe the different lines, patterns, and textures we create ​in a piece of art. It applies to any art material on any surface, not only paint on canvas or pencil on paper. A dot made with a pencil, a line created with a pen, a swirl painted with a brush, these are all types of mark making”.

From my own understanding, mark making is creating visuals using any form of medium. Artists also use different techniques of mark making as a way to express their thoughts and emotions into their artwork, giving their artwork more depth and meaning.

Mark-making techniques


In the dictionary says that monoprint is a single print taken from a design created in oil paint or printing ink on glass or metal.

Basically, a monoprint is a single impression of an image made from a reprintable block that has textures or design etched or created on it. There are many different methods of monoprinting.

Below is a video of a simple technique of monoprinting, where the art is “transferred” over to the paper after the art work is created on a surface.

Here is a similar method, but now uses reductive monoprint, where certain shapes or patterns are laid on the surface and when paint is applied, it covers the other areas but not where the shapes or patterns are, creating a negative space and capturing the shape in the process.

There are many other methods of monoprinting, but generally the idea of “capturing” a shape, texture or design of an object, and transferring it onto a paper or surface is similar.

A famous monoprint artwork would be Andy Warhol’s monoprint of Marilyn Monroe:

In my opinion, monoprinting is a doable method of mark-making, but it requires quite some creativity to know what sort textures and tools used and the positioning of those objects that is suitable for the artwork.

Fumage/smoke painting

Fumage is a technique in which impressions are made by the smoke of a candle or kerosene lamp on a piece of paper or canvas.

Some artists would leave the artwork as it is after painting it with the smoke/fire. However there are other artists that would use various tools to create textures or bring out the shapes of the designs in the artwork.

I would say this method of mark-making would require ALOT of practice and very much coordination of both hands and the mind, but if this technique is mastered it would create really beautiful and unique artworks.

A well-known artist that uses fumage would be Steven Spazuk. Some examples if his works are shown below:


Frottage is the technique or process of taking a rubbing from an uneven surface to form the basis of a work of art. Basically, in rubbing a medium on paper that is layered above a textured object, in captures the texture and shape on the paper.

An example of frottage would be a work by Max Ernst, which he layered papers on wooden floors and rubbed the paper with soft pencils.