Express yourself

Within the confines of a canvas, paint can be used to create a range of emotional effects in the viewer. Contrast the following, painted within a few years of one another.

Expressing something beyond the verbal was something important to Mark Rothko He enigmatically said “My paintings’ surfaces are expansive and push outward in all directions, or their surfaces contract and rush inward in all directions. Between these two poles, you can find everything I want to say.”

'Magenta, Black, Green on Orange', oil on canvas painting by Mark Rothko, 1947, Museum of Modern Art.jpg

Critics called his painting style Serene, in contrast to the painting of Jackson Pollock although his aims may have been similar, his approach was very different, captured by Photographer Hans Namuth.

Number 17A.jpg

Task 1

You will need: Pencils, paper, optional paints

Using either pencil or paint, create abstract drawings that convey one of the following emotions. Joy, Anger, Sadness, Serenity.

A line drawn by the hand cannot not be expressive! Hatching can be very controlled and descriptive but it can also be expressive too. You can use pencil lines to build up areas of shade in a drawing using long lines overlapped…
line hatching
Or stippled points of pencil
stipling hatching
Or circulism, you can use the pencil in a variety of ways to build up tone.
circulism hatching
More can be found here or here

Task 2

You will need: Still life object, a good light source (window or lamp) Pencils, paper, optional paints

Make a still life drawing that uses expressive hatching. You could use hatching in different ways to convey different emotions. Try to invent your own way to hatch.

An example of extreme control, restraint and expressive mark making can be found in the Broken Ink Landscape scroll, part of a tradition of using splashed ink in different tones. More can be found out about it here

Sesshu - Haboku-Sansui.jpg

Task 3

You will need: Pencils, paper, optional paints.

Listen to a piece of music. Any genre of music will do. Create a drawing that matches the emotional tone of the music. For good examples try these links:

track 1

track 2

track 3