Markers’ Explorations


They are in almost every home, school and backpack. They are attractive and easy to use. It is not necessary to “draw something”, that is representing something recognizable (just a reminder for those who get stuck with I can’t draw or I don’t know what to draw).

How many types of points, lines and marks can be invented? In how many ways and patterns can these signs be placed on the sheet of paper?

How many ways can we cover an area with colour or create a shape?

Try to explore all the possible movements of your wrist, hand, arm and observe the traces left by the marker during the movement. You can also move or rotate the sheet of paper below.

Each sign can be repeated creating various types of textures, thinning out  or thickening the signs that compose the texture. What is gradually taking shape in the sheet of paper, will probably give us new suggestions for continuing the work.

How many ways can points and lines interact? A point is a moving line, or as Paul Klee said, “a line is a point going for a walk”?

What is the difference between drawing through coloured lines and drawing through patches of color?

Who leades: the eye, the hand or the idea? Does a colour “call” another one?

In my studio, next to the markers, there is a box with small sheets of paper: some of them are already drawn on (and eventually joined together, like in the picture above). In some situations, where the participants do not know what to draw and need a stimulus for starting the process, this “kit” can be a useful support, providing a starting point easier than a large white sheet.

The setting and the way of presenting materials is an important aspect that can affect the creative process as well. How are the various colour shades presented? Are they all visible? In the case of a group, how do members have access to them? Also the container itself can influence the perception of the content. From which container would you prefer to take a marker (between the ones above) and why? You can find more about this topic in the post “Container and Contained” by Nona Orbach.

I noticed that sometimes, in groups where the markers are placed in jars in the centre of the table, the colours are not carefully chosen and the markers are not put back, scattering all over the table. By offering the markers in the centre of the table, on a long folded strip of thick paper (about gr 200), these inconveniences disappear by themselves. The paper strips are also very easy to fold or carry. If the markers are displayed on a shelf or used by one person at a time, shorter strips can be available for placing the chosen colours.

As Nona Orbach e Lilach Galkin wrote in “The Spirit of Matter”, The main characteristic of markers is that it is possible to achieve a nice result without much effort. They offer clean, aesthetic work, and are suitable for ornamental and decorative purposes. There is repetition in the workflow by opening and closing the marker and filling surfaces with short contiguous lines. This is significant for people who are intrigued and organized by ritual and rhythm. There is not much need for hesitation when working with markers; they afford pleasure from an easily created aesthetic outcome.

Finally, I would add that a marker’s sign can not be erased: this can be a bit frightening for some adults or older children that want to get a “nice” work. But after a while, letting go of these expectations can be very liberating and releasing, precisely because there is no way to adjust what you did, so just let it go!

Now I hope you are looking forward to take a marker and start your exploration… Enjoy!

This post is part of the project Grammar of Drawing by Suzanne Axelsson, Nona Orbach and Roberta Pucci.
It has been translated in four languages:

Would you take a walk with a line?


by Roberta Pucci and Michele Ferri

In early life, the process of drawing naturally unfolds according to consequential phases: it is an organic, archetypal development that just needs a welcoming environment, respectful of individual paces.
But what about adults, especially those who stopped drawing since a long time? Is it still possible to restart drawing just for the sake of it, without performance anxiety about the outcome?

Here are some suggestions for all adults who think they are no longer able to draw and need a little help. Would you like to play?

Going for a walk with a line

First of all, let’s warm up your hand with a flowing, free movement on the sheet of paper. Draw two small signs of different colors, representing the starting and the arrival point, wherever you want. Then just let your hand go for a walk with a black pen or marker, freely exploring the space of the sheet without interrupting the line, in any direction, at the most comfortable speed and pace. If you no longer know where to go, just slow down, slower and slower… but keep going on.

This activity can be repeated in different ways, for example by changing the travel speed, the drawing tool, the positions of the starting and arrival points. Perhaps a different color will suggest a different pace… And each tool will have its own “walking” qualities. Or you could imagine a line with a certain kind of personality, mood or feeling: happy, sad, angry, curious, bored, scared. How will be its journey?

You can also create more interesting environments to explore, by placing cutouts and small objects hin the sheet of paper. Then explore these paper areas with a line.

Now let’s go through more intricate paths, tracing lines that intersect in many points (preferably using a pen). Interesting shapes are hidden through your random scribbles: look and try to find them… What do you see? Once you have identified some shapes, make them more recognizable, for example filling them with colors or pointing the outline out with a different color or a thicker line.

What about “dressing” your shapes? You can create endless textures combining different signs, points and lines. Then draw your shape on a textured cardboard you like and cut it out. How does it look now?

Each shape can also be transformed by changing its size or proportions, stretching it, crushing it, as if it was of a plastic material that can be deformed as you like. Exploring these variations, you will create a group of shapes that are all a bit different but recognizable as belonging to the same “family”.

At this point, you have various drawing tools for inventing imaginary worlds… Trace your lines, place and move your shapes in the sheet of paper: many stories will come out! Enjoy!

This post is a small excerpt from the book A spasso con una linea, by Roberta Pucci and Michele Ferri, published by Artebambini (in Italian only… for now).

The post is also part of the Grammar of Drawing project about the expressive language of drawing, in a collaboration between Suzanne Axelsson, Nona Orbach and Roberta Pucci.

It is translated in five languages:

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