E is for...

Expressive Marks

Taking a break from letter-based shapes, this project is about mark making. In order to focus on creativity there are limitations set on what will be used to create these marks.

Tools used for this project will vary from person to person, because the trick is to use alternative items to create marks. So here is the project: you will be using carbon copy paper and tissue paper (or deli paper) to create your marks and the marks can't be made with regular art materials or writing tools.

Creative Process

Go for a walk down the road, visit a park or see what you can find in your garden. Look with fresh eyes at objects suitable for making drawings and marks. Gravel, stones and pebbles, pieces of wood and tiny branches make wonderful drawing instruments.

I find thorns to be particularly effective. Brambles and rose bushes have thorns that make delicate lines.

How to Make Marks

Place the carbon paper directly on top of, and facing the tissue or deli paper. Start by making marks by means of ‘blind drawing’ You will not be able to see what you are drawing, and that is a good thing.

See what happens when you allow your hand to create a texture or lines, explore ways to make marks, play and move this drawing tool in different ways. You will see the outcome once you lift the carbon sheet. Use one object per sheet, explore the different sides of a pebble or stick. Remember, limitations are good.

If you want to explore more shapes try cutlery, maybe a dinner fork. You could also use the wooden matches from the matchbox (in the materials lists) box to draw with. Holding a few in your hand will create an interesting pattern. If you like you could use the Xacto knife and carve the matches to become sharper drawing tools.


This is an important project to create ‘visual texture’ marks to be used in a later collage. You'll need a variety of textures, probably 8 to 10 sheets (A4 or Letter).

© 2020 Esté MacLeod

© 2020 Explore Colour