Mark Making

Author, Author: Reporter, Development, Sketchbook, Visual Research

Experimenting with Image Creation Through Mark Making

As mentioned in Making Metropolis, I did a lot of mark making prior to building cardboard structures to try and decide what aspect of Southampton I wanted to focus on in relation to the texts. However after making my structures, I felt it would perhaps be interesting to translate this previous technique as a way to draw from my created structures.


Watercolour and Pen layering

Mark Making

At this early stage I focused mostly on the nature of Netley Abbey described in Philip Hoare’s Spike Island, almost to just get the idea out of my head because I fixate on nature generally and felt as though inevitably I would end up producing work related to that as oppose to pushing myself beyond my comfort zone.

Working from the collective Google Drive folder where Southampton Solent University students and students from the Author Reporter studio share work and photographs based on the given texts, I selected photographs that were nature based. These images (pictured below), however, weren’t taken of the nature described at Netley Abbey but rather nature images of the Wildlife Centre built in place of Southampton Zoo noted in the written email by Anna Vickers.

Using these, as well as various brushes and Indian ink, I experimented with splashing, dotting, washing, swift manoeuvring, and layering an array of marks. I really felt it was important for me to draw and be really loose with my mark making initially in order to refine and decide what works most successfully. Furthermore, I was also trying to ensure I build a body of work from this experiment so it was important for these drawings to be quick so I could generate a lot of work in a short space of time.

Inspirational References

Upon reflection, some of the more detailed scenic experiments I did reminded me of Vincent Van Gogh’s sketches where he captures the landscape, almost how the eye process it – all detail at once. Looking at his sketches have me imagining that his sketches where done briskly, as one would expect drawing on site from observation. Things are always changing therefore one must draw faster and simplify objects into marks in order to capture the moment.  Investigating Van Gogh lead me to the work of Sue Lawty, a textile designer whose work aesthetically echoed the outcomes I got after splashing and carefully dotting ink onto the page with my brush.


Van Gogh Sketch


Sue Lawty mark making example (Credit:



Drawing Structures

I really enjoyed the process of drawing and was more than eager to see how I could use my mark making techniques to draw from. I decided to create a few more structures like the one I made previously because that way I would be giving myself something to draw from observationally, rather than just working from reference images from the shared folders. Images that were not taken by me thus aren’t photographed how I would photograph them and capture particular angles and details.

After building my cardboard models, I attempted to draw from them. I decided that loose mark making wouldn’t be appropriate because it may just make the structures look like abstract shapes and what I’m in fact aiming for was to capture the detail of my models and really create the illusion of a cityscape. For this reason, I decided to change my drawing tools and use a non-waterproof pen and coffee that bled really nicely together, creating dirty undertones, almost like the dirt you expect to see on the concrete pavements of a city yet keeping the warmth of  colour from the cardboard.


Sketchbook drawings of my cardboard structures


Sketchbook drawings of my cardboard structures


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