Experimental drawing (mark making)

An array of mark making experiments

An array of mark making experiments

The Experimental drawing 2-day weekend course is designed to help students expand their variety of mark making they use when drawing and painting.  The course is experimental, intuitive and encourages learning through play.

This taster workshop (18.01.2015) offered a little glimpse of what students would learn on the full 2-day weekend course.

This course aims to provide a very different kind of drawing experience offering students the chance to explore new ways of drawing and I think their comments reflected how the drawing exercises helped them to

achieve some very new and different kinds of drawing during this taster workshop.

What did the students think?

“The full course would be quite inspirational for some artists and I think everyone would enjoy being free from their normal style.”

“Very informative – expanded my styles of drawing textures, etc.”

“This course can only enhance the way you think about drawing and your approach to mark making.  It will leave you inspired and open to experimentation in your art.”

The experience


We all thoroughly enjoyed this rather unorthodox drawing workshop.  A sense of play and experimentation filled the air and students seemed happy to try new ways of drawing and take chances – not too worried what the outcome would be.  How different an atmosphere was this to your usual drawing course! 

Time flew by as the experimental mark making exercise gave students opportunities to make creative marks in new and exciting ways.

Materials and techniques

A prompt start signalled the beginning of one of the fastest 2 hours I can remember.  Time flew by as we moved into the first drawing exercise using ink with a stick. 

This was the introduction to my idea that expanding your mark making repertoire can be influenced by 3 things – the materials or tools you use, external stimuli and researching the world around you, and thirdly internal stimuli of your emotions and intellect.

Using a rather unusual drawing instrument for some students (ink and stick) made everyone think about how they were drawing and really consider the kinds of marks they were making. 

 It helps students try out new things and draw differently to their usual style.  Great to get students exploring new territory.

I then wondered how drawing in a group would affect how people drew so the next exercise involved large scale drawings on the floor using charcoal on a long stick.  Again finding out what kinds of marks you can make with a long stick resulted in different kinds of drawings had I given students the usual pen or charcoal.

Another exercise we did involved taking rubbings of textures from around the mill.  Being an old grade 2 listed textile mill there was ample opportunity to find textures.  Back in the studio students investigated the textures to find ideas for making new kinds of marks.  They made a record of this to refer to again when drawing at home.

We finished off the taster workshop by giving students a glimpse of what can be achieved by listening to and responding to music while drawing.  Music is so similar to abstract mark making it can be a wonderful catalyst for developing new marks and ways of drawings if you are prepared to let your inner feelings guide your mark making hand.

Some wonderfully spontaneous mark making was achieved and there was none of those tightly controlled drawings you so often see from adult drawing classes.  The marks made on this taster workshop were filled with energy, a sense of exploration and newness – a small window into what I will be guiding students through during the full Experimental drawing 2-day weekend course later this year.