Studio Skills: Drawing

On 25th January we again met at Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre for another of our Studio Skills twilight sessions once again with the lovely Louise Tolcher-Goldwyn, this time to experiment with drawing techniques.

Right from the start Louise made it clear that this session was not going to be a test of our drawing skills, instead we would be playing with mark-making. Mark-making is a very freeing activity, many people are worried about being asked to draw something, feeling that they cannot draw well, and that they could never learn. When making marks we are not worrying about the outcome, instead we are focussed on the process, the ability to express our personality or emotions. Because of this everyones work comes out different, and their personality shows through their marks and gestures.

Studio Skills: Drawing
Studio Skills: Drawing

After some initial make-making exercises and to relax and free us, Louise introduced the idea of building our own personal mark-making libraries. To do this we were given small pieces of card of different textures and colours, using various materials including pencils, charcoal, chalk and pastels we made simple make on the cards. Having built our collection we could then laminate them and attach them to a keyring, which we could continually to add to as or ideas develop. This becomes a library that we can draw upon when making larger drawings, like paint swatches.

We continued the session with a shot talk about contemporary drawing activity that has taken place in wales and beyond, before being multi-coloured felt-tip pens, paper and blindfolds. We dimmed the light put on the blindfolds, Louise played some haunting piano music by Michael Nyman. We took a pen in each hand and began to draw blind, trying to feel the rhythm and texture of the music, expressing it’s emotion.

Studio Skills: Drawing
Studio Skills: Drawing

Every blindfolded drawing was different, Louise passed out viewfinders so we could more carefully investigate the marks we had made and focus in on different areas to use as a starting point, working with fabric and ink we developed these ideas into larger artworks, expressive and colourful flowing design that retained the sweeping feel of the music we had drawn to. This led to the idea of using drawing activity as expressive mind maps that might map out our day or the way we were feeling.

Studio Skills: Drawing

During explosive finale to the session our drawings become kinetic. Louise has built small spinning platforms using motors and batteries attached to two discs. We built a protective barrier around our drawing area using paper then stuck a sheet of paper on to our spinning disc. As the disc spun we dropped ink onto the page which either splatted blobs around the page or drew curls and spirals, these marks we built up using different colours. Many commented that this was a wonderful and fun activity, that they wouldn’t have thought of as drawing, which had some science to it.

Studio Skills: Drawing
Studio Skills: Drawing

John Meredith learned many “practical skills that can be transferred to the classroom”, and Tina Broughton commented on the use of “media I hadn’t thought of using in the classroom.” – Tina Broughton. Anna Massey thought the techniques “will help in workshops with participants who lack confidence.” When asked about which techniques they would use in the classroom, Bernadette Daly said “Building a mark making library.” and Anna Massey commented “Definitely mark making exercises and bling drawing.”

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