Markers’ Explorations


They are in almost all our homes, schools and backpacks. They are attractive and easy to use. It is not necessary to “draw something”, that is to represent something recognizable. Just to remember 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 color 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 kind of textures, according to different degrees of rarefaction or thickening. 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 colored lines and drawing through patches of color?

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

In my studio, next to the markers, there is a small box full of white papers, all the same, and next to this box, some drawn papers (of the pictures above). These drawn cards can be joined on one side to form an accordion booklet, otherwise left loose, so that they can be individually taken (very useful solution in a group). In some situations, this kit was 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 color shades presented? Are they all visible? In case of a groups, 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? If you are interested, in the post “Container and Contained” by Nona Orbach you will find more about this specific issue.

I noticed that sometimes, in groups where the markers were placed in jars in the center of the table, the colors were not carefully chosen and the markers were not put back, scattering all over the table. By offering the markers in the center of the table, on a long folded strip of paper, these inconveniences disappeared 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 colors.

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.

I would add that a marker’s sign can not be erased: this could be a bit frightening for some adults or older children, that want to obtain a “nice” work, especially at the beginning of this kind of exploration. But then, it can be very liberating and releasing, precisely because no way to adjust what you did… so just let it go!

And now I think you are looking forward to take a marker and start your exploration… Enjoy!

The Characters Box: a tool for inventing stories

the little hedgehog and the rainbow

Where can you begin to invent a story? There are endless possible starting points: one is this box. It contains “characters” catched from picture books for children. Here is how doing it. Look for a book with a character that appeared in different pictures, with various facial expressions and body positions. Then photocopy all these figure variations, cut out them (isolating them from the background) and put them in a small, nice box.

Characters from picture books

This special box could be placed next to the writing-drawing tools, at home, or in a classroom, and freely used by children. However, it is better if, for the first time, you present it trying to create a special atmosphere of suspence. “What is going to be inside? Who will come out from it?” When the character comes out, children are usually surprised and curious. Then, you can wonder and investigate together: who is he? What is she doing? What’s his name? Where does she live?

Invite children to take cues from the various facial expressions and postures of the figures, trying to imagine what may have happened to the character: why has he become sad? Where is she running? Who’s chasing her? What is he looking for? Who is she angry with? After children defined some features and events, you can also propose to deepen these elements by seeking information through books or other sources. For example, if the character lives in the ocean, why don’t look for books or web images about marine environments?

The story will slowly begin to take shape, until it will be completely defined. At this point, you can invite children to draw it, sticking the photocopies of the character in the right places. In addition to pencils and markers, you can eventually provide some colored papers and recicled fabrics. If there is a group of children, suggest every child to draw a different sequence, in order to represent the whole story.

Finally, all the drawings can be joined into a small book, with the cover, the title and the name of the authors. Children will be very proud of it… After a first experience like this, the box could be left freely available in the classroom or at home, and periodically present a different character: every new character is a surprise!

One day, Crocolou decides to go for a swim at the lake. But as he dives, a crocodile comes out of the water and bites him on his forehead.

Lupodrillo fighting against the wolves

Crocolou calls his wolf friends to help him. The wolves arrive and fight against the crocodiles. At the end of the fight, all wolves and crocodiles are full of bites and fall to the ground from exhaustion, so no one wins.

Lupodrillo coming back home

While the wolves and the crocodiles are fighting, Crocolou managed to escape to his grandmother’s house. The grandmother has prepared an inflatable pool for him, but Crocolou is now a little afraid of diving because the crocodile comes to his mind. In the end he dives.


Many thanks to Nadhir, Riccardo and Giuseppe, authors of Crocolou story and to the authors of the characters, Ophélie Texier for Crocolou and Vincent Bourgeau for the little imp in the book “La boite à Jules”.


You are very welcome to share your stories sending them to or through a private message to the FB page Robertapuccilab. If you agree, I will public them in order to share stories with all the other children-authors.