Abstract Mark-Making

This week’s Life Book lesson was taken by Jenny Doh, an artist whose instinctive, loose, free style is a polar opposite of my usual approach to art.  During these past twenty weeks of taking Life Book lessons, I have come to recognise that I am definitely much more of an illustrator than any other type of artist and my style definitely leans towards the intentional and controlled.  However, I am definitely learning to loosen up a little and am letting elements of unintentional and uncontrolled art find their way into the works that I produce.  That represents a real step forward for me and is an area of growth I want to continue to nurture even if my dominant impulse is to be intentional and controlled.

The focus of this week’s lesson was playful mark-making using different tools.  Since I own neither fluid acrylics or acrylic ink, I had to improvise a little and just water down acrylic paint to an inky consistency.  The colours lost some of their vibrancy as a result.  Doh explained that once we were satisfied with all the unintentional elements within our paintings, we could look to see if any forms or shapes seemed to emerge from what was on the paper.  That could then be refined into something representational.  That was a big area of temptation for me because it would have permitted me to impose some structure and order on what I had produced, provide it with some sort of focal point.  However, I decided to keep the whole piece completely abstract so did not even look for suggestions of anything lest I give into temptation.  I also decided to ask my 9 year old to determine which way around the finished painting should be and interestingly he chose the complete opposite of what I would have probably gone for because I immediately saw the drips as having to be top down.

Week 20 - Abstract Mark-Making

I really enjoyed the freedom of mark-making in this way and like the results.  While I may never be an abstract artist, I definitely think there is potential for me to build these abstract mark-making elements into my art work.


12 thoughts on “Abstract Mark-Making

  1. Hi Laura. I rally like your finished piece. I wasn’t at all attracted to this lesson because I don’t go for extremes like Jenny Doh’s art, but after seeing your paint colors I think I’ll give it a go. Look for a posting soon. Hugs, Carmen.

    • Thanks, Carmen. It’s definitely not my style and I anticipated frustration and failure but I definitely felt I learned something about loose and playful mark making which I can then incorporate into my art so that while I’m not loose and unintentional overall there are elements there. I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

  2. Great work Laura! I love the way Jenny Doh speaks about making and passing on her artistic techniques. She acknowledges that we all learn from each other and all that came before mysteriously interweaves to effect what we produce – so different from the ‘this is mine and copyrighted and I’m teaching you’ mode of thought!
    She is inspirational!! I really, really need to learn to work even a little like this – my process is so ‘I’ll make a flower’ rather than ‘splat’ and look and turn the paper and splat some more……. my drips would definitely have been top down. Yay for a nine year old!! 🙂

    • You and I clearly think alike. My control freakiness has completely stifled my “inner child”. 😀 I have no intention of mimicking someone else’s style but I am enjoying trying on other people’s styles by adopting their approaches and techniques and then seeing what happens when I couple that to my own style. And since my own inner child doesn’t come out to play I can just pick the brains of my kids. Ha ha! Thanks, as always, for reading and commenting.

  3. Your work is beautiful despite of your controlled way of painting. I cannot understand how Jenny does her art too but it is amazing. The pureness of each mark made is undeniably what makes her work so unique. I aim to that kind of art too but right now I think my very governing self will have a big fit.

    • Jenny makes it look so effortless. I felt like I was breaking a sweat trying to control the conflict between my impulse to be rigid and my determination to be freeing. Abstract is definitely not easy.

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