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How Artists Make Their “Mark”

Artwork from “Mark,” including Sin of Innocence by Elaine Qiu

A flash of charcoal, crumbling its way across the paper. A splash of watercolor, bleeding into unpredictable shapes. Or a blast of spray paint, making its statement on a brick wall.

A mark represents a moment in time, recorded by the artist using any number of tools. Below, you’ll see marks created by a 3D pen, a camera, ceramic glaze, and rust. All these artists, artworks, and statements are in The Art League’s September exhibit, “Mark,” juried by Charles Jean-Pierre. Join us for the opening reception on Thursday, September 14, 6:30–8:00 pm in the gallery.

By Charles Jean-Pierre, the juror for “Mark.” He said in our juror’s dialogue that “In my own work, I make crude marks. My signature lines are intended to show movement–they denote delineation from one side to the other. … Marks can be traced back to the earliest recesses of history. When I think of marks I think of our prehistoric ancestors crawling through dark caves with flickering torchlights creating amazing images that would last the test of time. I think marks reveals our magical urge and need to create.” Read more here.

A mark is … multidimensional

Sheba in Fractional Dimensions, 3D drawing with cast shadows, by Sam Miller

“The black marks were made in air with a 3D pen. They suggest the figure of a live model including surfaces at different depths. The piece can be rotated to observe different aspects of the figure. The marks cast varied shadows on the gallery wall.” — Sam Miller

… movement

Taking Flight, clay, by Sylvia Brown

“When I drip or squirt glaze over my base glaze I like to dance with my pot moving both the pot and the gaze dispenser at the same time, then placing the dots as precisely as I can once I decide where they belong.” — Sylvia Brown

R&B2GO, Group of Six, acrylic, by Marsha Staiger

“Each of the cradles is an opportunity to make a mark. Each mark relates to the format of the cradle by harmonizing or opposition. Together they create movement and relationships by proximity.” — Marsha Staiger

… statement

Messenger of Spring, oil, by Jade Xia

“My marks are brush strokes. Each brush stroke carries out simultaneously color, value, shape and form. The branches of the tree are marks quite unlike the gestural Asian ink and brush calligraphy that also convey emotion through their dance like movement.” — Jade Xia

… evidence of a human hand

Design & Creation (and detail), acrylics, paper, graphite & wax crayon on wood, by Jennifer Allevato

“I treasure the connection of my hand to the brush and the brush to the canvas. My process involves first drawing every composition and then starting to layer in the paint. … There are always edits that happen in the moment as the color is being applied. I love this part of the practice, and I don’t erase any unused guidelines: it’s all a part of the process and becomes essential to the creation and completion of the piece. My hand and my mark are visible all over my paintings, and that’s where the humanity is evident.” — Jennifer Allevato

Saturday Afternoon; oil, lyntex house paint, rags, plaster wrap, wool, hair on canvas; by Zipporah Lee Norton

Saturday Afternoon embodies the extreme of what my mark could achieve by incorporating various mediums and techniques. Each mark holds a piece of my physical gesture and being, from throwing paint, slathering it on with my hands and even with the traditional brush application.” — Zipporah Lee Norton

… language

Nostalgia Vol. 2, Sumi ink on Washi paper, by Ohana Murao

“For me, marks are my own language that have an infinite number of characters coming from the well of my subconscious. It encompasses all emotions and inspirations which normal languages can’t. The only rule for this language is that it has to be aesthetic.” — Ohana Murao

From the Depths, mixed media, by Suzanne Yurdin

“Mark making for me is like telling a story. This painting uses marks made from paint, charcoal and oil pastel along with drips applied throughout the the entire process. Some marks appear from the beginning, some are excavated towards the end but they’re always there to add to the story.” — Suzanne Yurdin

… self-portrait

Night Owl (and detail), oil and acrylic, by Sarah Dax Solano

“My literal marks by palette knife are rapid to create a mood of solitude and focus. This mood is further achieved by the direction and color of my marks. I didn’t want this self-portrait to just be a physical representation of myself but to share information of who I am, mark myself.” — Sarah Dax Solano

… history

Growth Marks, photograph, by Blair Jackson

“How familiar it is to mark the growth of one’s family tree over the decades. As children become adolescents and adults, the process continues and the art of the family evolves over time.” — Blair Jackson

A Heap of Broken Images – R, drawing and collage, by Barbara Warden.

“I am looking at marks and a drawing process that tells a story of a broken world. A landscape that was once a familiar village has been changed forever, perhaps never to reappear in its earlier, recognizable form. I chose drawing and collage to represent a dramatically altered landscape that is now ‘a heap of broken images’ – a line that comes from T.S. Eliot’s ‘The Wasteland.’ ” — Barbara Warden

… process

She Just Changes Her Mind, acrylic, by Charlene Nield

“The very essence of this painting is its marks, some hidden treasures that provide an under layer of texture, others masked, and then the bold and obvious. To me the nature of abstract is heavily dependent on mark making.” — Charlene Nield

What is Lost Honor, acrylic, by Martin de Alteriis

“I paint [my] backgrounds swiftly and spontaneously. … Then I add my marks, first the lines and then the dots, applying them carefully with fine brushes. These marks are simple, but by ordering and stacking them, I seek to create a complex whole. I think about marks on stone or tree bark: primitive communication. What message am I sending? What questions am I answering? Sometimes the marks are lean and spare. In this painting, they overlap and grow. I imposed a linear design on this painting, using masking tape to arrange the lines and dots into overlapping shapes, sometimes a shield, somewhere a cross…” — Martin de Alteriis

… clarity

Oysters, oil, by Deborah Taylor

“Using thick ‘marks,’ I attempted to limit my number of marks keeping the colors and image clean and crisp.” — Deborah Taylor

Simplicity Within #17, photograph, by Meryl Silver

“I work with reflections of grasses and reeds in the water and focus on the geometric ‘marks’ they make in both the sky and the water make as they intersect.” — Meryl Silver

… starting point

Threads of Life, oil, by Rich Moore.

“The inspiration for this painting started from a single painted orange strand. This initial “mark” led to many threads of varying thicknesses, colors and movements that grew and wove to interact with other shapes and life events. Every varying thickness, color and movement show the unique threads of life.” — Rich Moore

Rust, mixed media, by Suzanne Tillman.

“I used iron paint and rust activator on some metal hardware and pieces of screen. The marks left on the newspaper used during the rusting process were more interesting than the rusted pieces. I made more marks with ink, pencil, and thread.” — Suzanne Tillman

“Mark” is on view through Sunday, October 1.

Artwork from “Mark”

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