C is for

Curiosity is one of the great secrets of happiness.

- Bryant H McGill

C stands for curiosity, creativity and COPY. Yes COPY!

Today’s project is super simple an alternative way of drawing, rather different from anything else we will be doing on the course.

Materials Required

Carbon copy paper and a few sheets of paper, a sketchbook or heavier smooth cartridge paper as well as drawing materials (detailed later).

Your task is to draw using NO DRAWING MEDIUM apart from the carbon copy paper.

You need to go for a walk. Anywhere outside is good, down the street, a park or your garden. On your walk you need to collect a few stones or pebbles - not many. Look for a variety in texture and shapes, round, angled, pointed, rough, smooth etc.

You’ll also need some twigs - nothing bigger than a pencil width, rigid dried up ones are best. If you can find hard dried up leaves or seeds or seedpods or acorns and so forth, bring them along. Not too many, a handful is plenty.

Mini Project

Drawings on a sheet or in your sketchbook. Before you start use a folio sheet of copy paper and cut out a quarter-section. This will become a mask. Place the cut out sheet on the paper to be drawn on with the carbon copy sheet over it. Create marks with your materials in the uncovered section.

Improvise with your materials. Use the twig sideways similar to a compass, explore marks and scribbles. Go over the edges of the section as your paper is masked and it makes for more expressive marks. The reason for the masking is to have distinct sections of marks alongside one another without accidently obliterating each other. Remember to write down on the section what you used for marks, and the action to obtain it. Once the quarter area is covered, change your masked section and draw with a different tool until the page is covered. You may also use your fingernails as marking tools.


Think about creating marks by action instead of the traditional material you would normally use. Explore the world around you. Carbon copy paper is also good for fine detail marks and once lines have been drawn it will not smudge when water based paint is used with it as it has a wax base.

This simple yet very effective material allows you to create spontaneous marks and fine detail in a different manner. Not seeing what you are creating is also part of the exercise! You can add light water washes and explore the shapes later.

What do you like about the process of blind drawing? Is this something you might use in your work? Using material for mark making can be explored with items such as a haircomb, and other man-made objects; the options are vast. Here’s a link to a Pinterest board with mark making samples.


I discovered the carbon copy drawing technique when I attended an artist conference in Florida in 2014. I met Anne Lorensen who, like me is a Golden Artist Educator. She introduced us to carbon paper as a technique. The outsider artist Henry Darger used carbon copying as an art form. Here’s a link to his work but be warned: some of his subject matter is disturbing.


You're welcome to share your outcomes in the group’s Facebook page. Please don't post course material or outcomes to to other public Internet sites or to social media.

#cisfor #carboncopy #creativeleap

© 2020 Esté MacLeod

© 2020 Explore Colour