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Mark Making/Preparing Surfaces

Hi Guys,

I thought I would kick my Blog off by discussing mark making and preparing surfaces for painting, this will be a recap for my Landscape students as this is what we covered on Friday, but I hope it will be of interest to those of you visiting my site. I will also be discussing what I've been working on personally in the last week. I hope you enjoy this and please do leave comments if there are painting subjects that you would love to discuss.

Do drop me a line.

Well I thought I would cover mark making with my students this week at Cheltenham Fine Art. It's a really good idea however experienced you are as an artist to occasionally revisit this area of your work. The way I like to do this is place all mark making tools within your personal kit out on the table and explore how many different marks you are able to make with them.

So this might include a selection of brushes, knives and edges such as mount board, string and other objects that you may use as a simple printed mark.I would include using different parts of your hands in this list to {if you are preferring to keep clean hands put a pair of thin disposable gloves in your kit so as you are still able to explore this and feel comfortable}.

Now its useful for you to keep a record of your mark making so either do this in your sketch book or transfer it there at a later stage so as to jog your memory when you may be looking for inspiration.

I have split the exercises to try into categories of acrylic/oil and watercolour.

Acrylic and oil.

Start to explore each brush in turn being sure to use the side and tip and as well as applying a mark you are able to remove the paint to leave a different mark. You are also able to get soft what are known as ghost marks by using a soft cotton rag to wipe marks back.

Make as many marks as you are able to and try to discover new ones to add to your repetoire.Remember to experiment with knife tools or the end of your paint brush handle to strike through marks, I think this is a really energetic mark and creates great energy in the mark when done with confidence.

Lastly try using different parts of your hands to make marks, I find this really helps me connect directly with what I m doing and I find it can really enliven acrylic marks.


Explore the marks that each of your brushes make both on wet on wet and wet on dry.

Try varying the pressure of the mark and dont forget to move the water around the paper. Explore using the end of a paint brush handle to score in a variety of thickness of line to create interest and structure.

Don't forget to enjoy the journey.

Simple preparation of surfaces to use with acrylic and oils

So when we prepare a surface for painting ,we are readying it for allowing the paint to sit and bond to the surface readily, ensuring that it does not penetrate the surface unless we want it to, for example some oil painters like a more porous surface because it gives a soft chalky finish to the work as the oil migrates to te canvas or board leaving the pigment on the surface.

Preparing paper for acrylic or oilis the same as preparing canvas or board, it is as simple as applying a layer of mid tone acrylic all over the piece of paper that has been previously taped to a board. Aim to apply the paint in one direction and when the first coat is dry apply a second at 90 degrees. Once its dry you are ready to begin. Applying an acrylic halftone underpainting will really ensure a good sense of depth to your painting.

Now just a quick mention about what I ve been working on this week.I have three pieces on the go, they are oil on ply and I reached a point where I felt I wasn't moving forward with them. So I decided to go back to basics and do some tonal sketches. What I realised was that there were areas of the paintings where I had relied too heavily on the change of colour and neglected the tone. Now I feel ready to move forward with these. I will give you a peek at these next post as I've gabbled on enough.

Thanks for reading do join me next Tues when we will be chatting about 'Colour in the Landscape'. Also don't forget to subscribe

Jaynie ;)

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