Mark-Making Techniques: of Tombstones and Tape

My younger daughter recently switched her riding lessons to a new barn out even farther into the country than the one before. I don't mind, because it's a nice, easy drive and there's a coffee shop nearby.

Rubbing made with encaustic wax onto paper by
Isobel Hall. From Cloth Paper Scissors Jan./Feb. 2008.

I'm also intrigued by the postage stamp-sized antique cemetery down the road from the barn. Not only are the headstones are beautifully chiseled with letters and images, but the entire cemetery is enclosed with an ornate wrought iron fence. From an artist's perspective, this little plot is a feast of mark-making techniques and textures.

When the weather gets better, I hope to get take some paper and soft crayons or blocks of encaustic wax and make some rubbings (town permitting, of course).

Taking rubbings is a wonderful way to not only make marks but also get mark-making ideas for backgrounds and other mixed-media applications. For example, you can incorporate the words and letters from a cemetery marker into a mixed-media painting or emulate the lettering in with a marker in your art journal. A rubbing of the curved lines made from the wrought iron fence can be cut up later for collage or the rubbing can serve as inspiration for a hand-cut stamp-the stamp then becomes the mark-making tool.

juliana coles mark making with tape
Clear packing tape with string makes lines over this
image in Juliana Coles's art journal.
From Cloth Paper Scissors July/August 2008.

Speaking of lines, tape is a great tool for mark making. Artist Juliana Coles uses tape a lot in her journals to make lines and edges. She may lay down several rows of masking tape on a page and journal over them. The paint picks up the texture and the edges of the tape, putting the lines in relief. She also sometimes paints over the tape and then pulls it off, creating raggedy marks and lines on the journal page.

Another way of mark making with tape is probably technically not mark making, but is an intriguing way of adding line: Juliana covers areas of her journal with clear packing tape with strings embedded in it. You can see the images beneath the tape, but the strings add subtle line and texture.

The more unusual and textural marks you use in your art, the more interesting and unique it becomes. Look around you: try to see the marks and textures all around you as mark-making fodder. Carry some crayons with your journal or notebook and, if practical, take a rubbing of an unusual texture. Observe some everyday items around your house and ask yourself if they could be made into markmaking tools.

You can also find mark-making techniques and ideas for tools in the back issues of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine.

P.S. Have you ever taken texture rubbings in public? How did you do it? Describe your experiences and offer advice to others in the space below.

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Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques

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