Studio Skills: Drawing

Studio Skills: Drawing

On 25th January we met at Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre for another Studio Skills twilight session, 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 focused on the process, the ability to express our personality or emotions. Because of this each person’s work comes out different, their personality is shown in their marks and gestures.

Studio Skills: Drawing
Studio Skills: Drawing

After some initial mark 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 marks on the cards. Having built our collection Louise advised that we could then laminate and attach them to a keyring, which we could continue to add to as our ideas develop, eventually becoming a library to reference when making larger drawings.

We continued the session with a talk about some contemporary drawing activity that has taken place in wales and beyond, before being given 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 its 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 on different areas to use as a starting point for the next activity. 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 heard. 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, we built these marks up using different colours. Many participants commented that this was a wonderful and fun activity, that they wouldn’t have thought of as drawing, and 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.” Anna Massey said the techniques “will help in workshops with participants who lack confidence.” When asked about which techniques could be used 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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