Mark Making (Research)

What is mark making? Does it just mean dots, scribbles, and brushstrokes? What do expressive qualities add to the look and feel of an artwork?

Artists often use mark making and gestural qualities to express their feelings or emotions about something they have seen or experienced. Artists also use expressive mark making to create purely abstract artworks which do not necessarily refer to anything in the real world but are intuitive or respond to a defined set of rules.

Willem De Kooning
Untitled 1966-7
Charcoal on tracing paper
support: 476 x 610 mm

One of the techniques that I’m really intrigued by is Fumage / Smoke painting. Fumage is a surrealist art technique popularized by Wolfgang Paalen in which impressions are made by the smoke of a candle or kerosene lamp on a piece of paper or canvas. Flames/smoke are often associated with danger, who would have known using this technique can create such detailed and beautiful piece of artwork.


  • :  an impression made on paper from glass or some equally smooth material (as celluloid or oilcloth) to which oil paint has been applied

This technique is kinda interesting because you either paint the image directly onto the plate which is known as the light field or you apply the ink first then remove the image which is known as the dark field. Each monoprint is different and unique and the artist may use one or more techniques to achieve the image that he or she want to create.

One of the technique that I might want to explore/experiment with is the Fumage. You will never know/expect what will turn out at the end. I guess mark making isn’t much on the technical side but rather a form of expression and experiment(?).

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