Mark-making &More Glass Jars, 9x8

"Glass Jars, 9x8" Pastel on sanded paper

Don't you just love texture in paintings? It makes a 2 dimensional image move forward with depth that you just couldn't get with a drawing. Oil painters have the advantage of impasto application, but what about pastelists? Since it's a soft pigment it just can't make a thick and juicy mark! But pastels offer a wonderfully expressive mark-making quality that oil painters just can't match. Mark-making can produce incredible results so unique that each artist's style begins to shine through.  I was first attracted to pastels because of the mark-making I saw in other accomplished artists such as Sally Strand and Sandra Bushell.

Last week in my pastel class, we worked on mark-making again (glass ball jars seem to work for this exercise) and in my demo (above) I used this linear technique. This vertical mark-making is actually quite exciting to look at!

detail shows the many layers of vertical marks made to create shape.

Depth and shade were rendered with a thick and thin mark with ink using both crosshatching and swirly marks. 
Reminiscent of the unique designs of our fingerprints.

Perhaps my interest with mark-making began when I was a kid.  Back then, I was fascinated with the dollar bill and how it was illustrated. Hours would be spent looking through a magnifying glass at George Washington, while trying to figure out how to make a drawing with lines just like those on the bill. Little did I know I'd be doing something similar in pastel as an adult.

The variety of mark-making is endless and is up to you and your imagination. So next time you hit a big slump with your work and are feeling like your work is getting boring, try making some marks. Try using thick and thin pressure with your pastels to garner wide or thin marks. Use color variations that can be optically mixed, or even different shapes like swirls, dots, or swipes of color to render beautiful work.

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