Making Marks: Three Artists Share | Mixed-Media Art

I asked a few of our contributing artists about making marks in their artwork, and they were happy to oblige.

Mark making: Mixed-media art by Seth Apter
Mixed-media art by Seth Apter

The questions:

  1. What’s your favorite mark-making tool?
  2. How often do you make your own tools for printing /mark making?
  3. Do you have any tools you won’t share with anyone . . . kind of your “trademark” tools?
  4. What is your favorite medium to print/make marks with?

Check out their responses below.

Seth Apter:

1. I have two favorite tools. I have a very old putty knife that I use for many different purposes. I love using the edges to make marks in gesso, paint, plaster, texture paste, wax, and other thick mediums. My other favorite mark-making tool is a Sakura white gel pen. I use it not only to write and to draw, but also to make marks in my art journals, books, and paintings. It works well over acrylics.

2. I actually rarely make my own tools, but on occasion I will make marks or print with found objects, pencil erasers, and household objects.

3. I have no “secret” tools stashed away.

4. I do love gel pens, as noted above, but I also often use Stabilo pencils, stamp pads, re-inkers, fluid acrylics, metal leafing pens, and  coffee and tea. ~Seth

Jodi Ohl:  

Mixed-media art by Jodi Ohl
Mixed-media art by Jodi Ohl

1. One of my favorite mark-making tools is the relatively new Catalyst Wedges. They are a silicone, shaped wedge (or blade), incised with cut outs in different sizes or shapes. Prior to these I used to create my own “blades” by cutting credit cards (great cost-cutting measure if you are budget conscious or like to recycle items). I use the Catalyst tools when Gelli Printing,  I need textural marks in my painting, and to scrape back paint to create distress marks. Love them!

2. Virtually every time I paint I grab some tool that I’ve created myself as I like to have my own individual marks in my work, in addition to those garnered from commercial tools (such as stencils or stamps). As far as how often do I make them, I go in streaks. If I need a break from my regular routine and want to be re-inspired, I will sit and make a variety of my own stamps, stencils, or textured plate from foam.

3. I don’t really have any “trademark” tools that I’m unwilling to share unless I’m teaching a class that is new and there are special processes/tools necessary to complete the project.

4. There are two things I use regularly, deli paper and Gelli Plates. I use deli paper in a
variety of ways: to paint on, to print with, to wipe up paint, to create reverse or ghost prints, to collage with. It’s one of my staples in the studio. The Gelli Plate is a tool I use probably every other month or so when I take a full day and print stacks and stacks of prints that I use in my work and journals. It’s a great way just to let loose and have fun! ~Jodi

Gina Lee Kim: 

Mixed-media art by Gina Lee Kim
Mixed-media art by Gina Lee Kim

1. My current favorite mark-making tool is a DIY watercolor paint dauber. Basically daubers are empty bingo dauber bottles filled with concentrated liquid watercolor.

2. Although I have all the carving tools and linoleum blocks to make my own stamps, to save time I buy traditional rubber or foam stamps with strong or universal design elements and then modifying them. Using a hot knife, I carve two stamps out of one! 

3. I have this one synthetic brush (don’t know where I got it from because the label has worn off!) that makes beautiful, perfect splattering of dots when I gently hit the ferrule with my finger. No other brush can replicate this tool and I’d be very sad if I lost it!

4. One of my favorite mediums to work with is Golden High Flow Acrylics in white and in neon fluorescent colors. They are amazing with stamps! ~Gina

There you have it! Some things to think about and some tools to try.
Happy creating!