You and Your Mark
Recognizing the divine relationship with the mind, the hand, and the mark
The moment any media touches a surface, a completely unique mark is made. Looking back on marks we’ve made in the past is like looking at an old family photo. A moment may have not seemed important as the photo was taken, but now it may act as a portal to a foregone time. Significance is reflection over time. With that same logic, we can open our awareness to better understand what the marks we make today can express our unique experience.
We’re going to make a piece that represents the natural uniqueness of your mark-making. Although this exercise is all about you, it would work best with a group of people so we can discuss and compare them after. This could be a fun activity with your quarantine mates or with an art class when society restarts. Maybe you can even use this to spice up a Zoom meeting.
12” by 12” piece of paper (I’d recommend a watercolor paper or something thick)
A light-colored paint (watercolor, gouache, or watered down acrylic would work best)
A dark-colored crayon or wax pastel (preferably black or something close to black)
*You can do this project with just a piece of paper and a crayon if you’d like, it may just be less pretty.
Take your piece of paper and add a light layer of a light color (i.e. a soft light pink or orange). This will be your ground. If the paper starts to buckle because you only had computer paper, that’s ok. Let the paper dry completely. You can even flatten the paper if you’re obsessive like me. Now that the paper is dry, take out your dark colored crayon or wax pastel and cover the entire sheet of paper. You can go as fast or as slow or as dense or as sparse as you like. My only suggestion here is to fill the page edge to edge.
Once the entire page is covered, it’s time to step back and discuss.
Marking art is fundamentally making a series of decisions. Filling a page with marks highlights the subconscious decision making that happens anytime you touch media onto a surface.
Essentially, what you’ve just done is to make a visual abstract representation of self. You’ve created an unduplicatable set of marks similar to a fingerprint. The way in which we lay marks down on a surface is a visualization of our infinite uniqueness.
If possible, I’d suggest switching papers amongst the people you’re working with.
Notice and discuss the positive and negative space. Look at the intimate moments where the ground color is peaking through the waxy overlay. Is that an aesthetic choice or are they just over this project? Are their differences in how participants interpret what is “filled” or “to the edge?” What can this say about the artist themselves?
Notice and discuss the direction of strokes of your marks, the density or marks, and their relationship to the artist. Is it neat and orderly or is it messy and rushed? Was this taken seriously or lackadaisical?
Notice and discuss what else a mark can say about you.