1.1 Fractured marks

Fractured marks a)

  • work with coal sticks on their side
  • make marks by dragging, pushing, sweeping
  • vary pressure
  • observe and reflect -> choose 3 for the Learning Log

3 marks


Willow charcoal stick

fast movement with strong pressure, the stick held on its side and dragged in the direction it pointed, away from me.

I like the energy in this mark, and the way it changes in thickness. It has a strong direction

Willow charcoal is rather soft and reacts nicely to pressure. It is grey.






Compressed charcoal in a block, used on its long and narrow side

Fast movement with a stronger pressure on the left of the block, dragging downwards perpendicular to the stick’s length

I like the shift in tone and the way it fades out in a curve. Hard to control though.

Compressed charcoal is very very black


photo-3Compressed charcoal block used on its long and narrow side

Writing. The pressure on the stick changes.

I like the transitions in this, both in bredth and tone which gives a threedimensional effect. Sweeping dynamic lines become more so.



Different types of coal

  • Nitram HB, stick, square -> brownish, very hard
  • Nitram B, stick, square -> brownish-grey, quite hard
  • Willow charcoal, round -> grey, soft
  • Compressed charcoal, stick, round ->  black, very hard on its side
  • Compressed charcoal, block -> softish, very black


Taking it furter


The marks they make are very different and I noticed a depth effect as in athmospheric perspective. I tried that out:


Fractured marks b)

  • make short broken marks, fill the whole paper
  • use thinner charcoal (draw with the tip?)
  • work across some of the coal marks with a putty eraser
  • Evaluate what you do and what effects you create



I found it harder to find different marks and effects in the first part of this exercise. The use of the putty eraser widened that somewhat. My first attempts seemed uneventful to me compared to the use of the charcoal on its side. Closer inspection, however revealed new insights and nice effects




Volume: short lighthanded smudges >< long smudge with pressure
Copying marks by stamping with the putty eraser
Direction: smudging once in one direction. Could suggest movement
Stabbing at the paper with the coal stick
Smudging with a hard edge (pallet knife): indistinct smudges, some with a hard edge


Taking it furter

I then tried to use some of these effects intentionally in some kind of an abstract landscape (no doubt influenced by one of the example pictures in the course book). I tried to vary direction, size and character of the marks and use smudging in different ways to achieve volume and depth. I think I succeded quite well (Other opinions appreciated!)



Fractured marks c)

  • Repeat the above with water soluble ink, feltpen etc
  • Use water instead of the eraser


I loved playing around with this. Water reacts in unexpected ways and is hard to control. Some of the effects I find spectacular.


First attempt
photo-3Some of the same problems as with the coal, no new marks appearing readily. When applying water I went off on a tangent learning to use the pinstriping brush. This needs more work! It has some exciting possibilities. The “geese” and the shaded sweeping lines are made with it.


Outcomes of play

I started out making fractured marks, but probably left that somewhere on the way

Direction to otherwise directionless marks
Beautiful fading
Refill runoff with more ink – ink stays in the water’s path
Hatching becomes softened and the lines begin to disappear
Using the ink in a line to make more marks – dry bristle brush
Ink line into area with fine waterdroplets (toothbrush)
Ink line into area with larger waterdrops (brush)
Toothbrush sprinkling over area with ink splatters (notice the green appearing)


Different drawing materials:

  • Winsor & Newton black Calligraphy ink does not run and smudge readily once dried, but blooms wonderfully when fresh.
  • Waterman fountain pen ink does smudge and bloome very easily, to the point that the original line disappears.It carries far when fading out.
  • Waterman blue-black ink splits in water revealing a phtalo green component
  • Watersoluble (ws) graphite smudges but the original line stays clear.
  • Ws graphite does not carry far when fading out edges
  • Water changes the reflection of the light in areas covered with ws graphite making a mark that differs in texture but not in tone (?)



Marks have different elements that influence it

  • kind of material used
  • paper
  • grip, how I hold the pen, coal etc.
  • direction – can change within the mark
  • pressure – can change within the mark
  • Working a mark with eraser or water can give it volume and depth and change the mark considerably



2 thoughts on “1.1 Fractured marks

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