Research on Artists (Mark Making)

Mark making is a concept used to portray the various lines, patterns and textures made on an artwork. Any materials used to create these lines, patterns or textures on different surface are considered mark making. For instance, a dot drawn with a pen, lines created with a toothbrush or textures made by leaves.

Mark making can be random and expressive or planned and orderly like hatching. Artists tend to combine different techniques of mark making to produce their artwork. The marks created by the artists contribute to the overall outlook to their final artwork however, these marks can be made to evoke certain emotions in their artworks. For instance, straight harsh lines seems to suggest anger while continuous curve lines can suggest serenity.

In my opinion, mark making is prevalent in most artworks during the abstract expressionism movement. One example of such artworks is Cool White, 1959 by Lee Krasner as shown below.

Lee Krasner, Cool White 1959

Lee Krasner is the wife of Jackson Pollock, being a strong willed and independent woman, she was capable of developing her own original work style that is different from Jackson Pollock. This particular painting Cool White, 1959 was part of her Sombre series which is a range of paintings done by her during a difficult period of her life. I am greatly inspired by this painting because even with the limited colours used, the brushstrokes were able to tell a story on its own. Krasner was able to bring out the utmost effect of the limited colours through the dynamic brushstrokes pulled across the canvas. The brushstrokes gave the painting an aggressive and forceful aura which seems to evoke the confusion and trauma she had been going through.

Another artist that greatly inspires me is American painter, Cy Twombly. In contrast to Jackson Pollock’s action paintings, Twombly’s artworks display a more elegant and sophisticated aura. In his later years, language and literature played a prominent role in his artworks. He sees art as a way of telling a story. Twombly was greatly inspired by handwriting and in his artworks, he made marks of vague doodles or words straight onto the canvas forming different line compositions. These techniques of mark making brought out a sense of underlying narratives behind his artworks.

One of Twombly’s artworks that document his emotional response is The Age of Alexander as shown above. It was painted for a period of a few hours on New Year’s eve 1959 to celebrate the birth of his son, Cyrus Alessandro. When I first looked this artwork, I observed that the lines are very subtle and delicate. This can be inferred from the soft pencil marks. These delicate lines gave rise to a feeling of contained excitement. I can feel that perhaps Twombly was nervous and giggly about the birth of his son.

After doing this research on mark making, I feel that it is amazing how even with limited colours used, making marks with dots and lines enable an artwork to speak for itself. The way the lines are drawn differently can make a difference to the outlook of an artwork is intriguing. Since our upcoming assignment will be in black and white, this research has definitely helped me in my thought process of mark making for the assignment.

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