Feeling the Mark

I love creative exercises and today I'm sharing activities around drawing. The wonderful thing about them is that they impulse us to start from a basic element, which is is something I like to implement with almost everything I am learning. 

Building skills at fundamental components will slowly build a complete set of tools, that allow you to construct with more clarity and give you more confidence to experiment.

You need to learn the abecedary first, before you learn how to write and create outstanding compositions.  And drawing, like most arts, is a result of practice and self-improvement.

Drawing is the simplest way of establishing a picture vocabulary because it is an instant, personal declaration of what is important and what is not.
— Goodwin, B.

Mark making is a development of a personal language, it is an almost sensual process. The exercises below are built with the intention to feel and strengthen our drawing from the core, and they belong to the book Drawing Projects: An Exploration of the Language of Drawing by Mick Maslen and Jack Southern, which I have found extremely helpful and enjoyable. 

‘Feeling the mark’ being made on paper has to be consciously realized and learned. We must learn to see as we feel, as we discover, as we draw, as a simultaneous act.
— Maslen, M (2011)


  • Two Pencils: an awkward start

Draw an object of your preference with the peculiarity of a drawing tool built from two pencils bound together.

It will feel strange, go on. This breaks the habit of using defined lines as a contour. See what unexpected and interesting marks are created as a result.

What happens when we change the conventional tools?

  • Three Pencils + Color

This is an upgrade of the previous exercise. Combine colored pencils or markers and play around. Vary your mark vocabulary to include different types of lines and recreate the ones you like from previous drawings. 

The process is quite fun! 

Color Triad Experiment. (2016)

Color Triad Experiment. (2016)


  • The Hand that Sees:

This one I find the most challenging of all so far. The drawing has to be a sensitive response of what you are seeing, you must draw without looking at the paper. 

This practice helps to build trust between the eye and the hand. It activates a tactile-sight synchronicity that allows you to improve the communication between the studied element and its representation. I peeked a bit at first, then it became more natural.

As much as it is tempting, keep your sight away from the drawing!

Hand study (2017)

Hand study (2017)

Drawing is about exploring our self expression and creating experiences that communicate our personal vision to the world. It is a very complex process, so exercises like these help us observe elements in isolation, and makes the work easier to tackle. 

If you want to focus on color, let that be the center of the practice. If it is line, then so be it. Present yourself with new challenges constantly. The result does not have to be perfect, allow yourself to explore without preconceived notions.