Exercise 1 – Experimenting with Expressive Lines & Marks

With these exercises I spent a little time trying to connect to the feeling. As the exercise requests to “create non-objective images, no words and no figures” it makes you take a step away. When I think of the word joy, I immediately find an image in my head like smiles or colorful sunset. So in trying to create non-objective marks and lines I had to find a connection to what I was feeling instead what I was seeing in my head.

Inhabiting the emotions was easier than letting go of them, specially Loss and Anger. Mostly because of the personal experience I have been going through recently. They (anger and loss) were my most deepest emotions and I really had to take some time off between them and Joy and Calm. The fun part of the exercise was playing up with my materials.

Joy – The marks on this sequence I felt them very expressive, full of energy. I felt through the marks and lines that never-ending feeling of happiness and joy I experience from time to time. It’s like a lightning of joy, it doesn’t last that long but it strikes you right through the center. It’s like a continuous movement through the body, up and down, through the center and out. I felt that bright colors would help me express the feeling and lines with movement. Music helped and the fact I had really good days and I was feeling “it”.

Calm – I don’t think I’m at a calm state most of the time. I did some meditating and got a playlist with music that really calms me down, or at least feels like its calming me down. The marks are soft and really with no direction. Looking at them now, they are not beautiful but I can immediately relate to the feeling at the time, taking things easy and just letting the calm I was feeling flow through.

Anger – A lot of things make me angry, as well as my inability to express what I think or what I’m feeling to others. And I just let go on this one. Hard, pressure, angry movements… I thought I was going to destroy the paper, I did messed up some of my markers. On this one I realized I wasn’t following the exercise directions of only using one material and moving on to the next. I mixed up the materials and just took as I felt. I hope it’s not a big of an issue that I did so. And I believe I did in others too.

Anger is a very strong emotion, and it can really consume my thoughts sometimes. Through the years I’ve worked to deal with it as so it doesn’t stress me out but I try not to suppress it. I’m glad I have this new way of expressing my anger without stressing myself. I really left all that anger on that paper. (By the way I’m not an angry person, but on this particular moment deep inside I came to find out my anger is connected to my loss.)

The marks are vivid colors, I just felt anger was mixing up with something dark. They are centered/all over the sheet.

Loss (sadness) – For the last feeling I chose Loss (or sadness pertaining to the loss of someone dear). I have been dealing with this feeling for several months now. My mother passed away not long ago, and it has been consuming me. If you have experience loss, I’m sure you know what I mean. It comes and goes, sometimes I don’t want to create because the feeling and the sadness it’s too overwhelming. It makes me feel empty inside. And I think you can tell by the marks I made that “there is something missing.” People tell me it takes a lot of time to go through this process and it really touched me deeply as I worked on this exercise. It was very emotional. I couldn’t do much marking or lines. For the four halves, at some point I felt I had “loss” the mark, the line, the willingness and I think that is exactly what I feel. So in that sense, the exercise worked.

The marks/lines are the darkest ones compared to the rest, at the same time they are transparent and bold.

**The paper I used for this exercise was Blick Studio Newsprint 18×24; drawing materials were charcoal, indian ink, pens, markers, soft and oil pastels, liquid paper.

Warm-Up Exercise

I was really excited when I read about the warm-up exercise. It was confusing to think of a temporary drawing. I wanted to work on my backyard with the leafs but I wasn’t sure how I was going to work them out. So before overthinking it, I chose to work on Yupo paper. If you don’t know Yupo paper, is a great paper to experiment with mediums that you can actually change and manipulate after some time. (I highly recommend it if you want to experiment!!!).

The exercise mentioned creating unusual drawing activities. And Yupo is perfect for this. When I first purchased it, I was trying to do some art with alcohol inks and alcohol. But I didn’t have the right materials. Later on, I came across a tutor that mentioned I could simply use ammonia and ink. At first it was frustrating due to my lack of experience with the materials. Ammonia is not an easy material to handle, and you must be careful from inhaling. Yupo paper also has a very different result, and going back to the memory of my first attempt at painting with it (see pictures below) I thought: This is really terrible!

The materials I used for the warm-up exercise were white glue, ammonia, water, indian ink, brushes, old credit cards, spritzer, cotton swabs, dropper and Yupo paper size 9inx12in. A technical issue was that I hadn’t tried my spritzer in a while (it had ink) and when I was trying to record my process it didn’t work. So I had to improvise and simply drip the paint. I used other materials as well to spread the ink and ammonia. At the beginning, I wasn’t sure of what marks to make. I let go once I put the ink on paper. I wasn’t looking for any shape in particular, as much as I wanted to create a working flow, something I could manipulate. I loved the way the ink flowed and its vibrancy -I know it’s black but it had such shine. As it dried, I noticed that it was looking differently from what I had seen at first. I moved on to add other elements, and play with the shapes that have come out of the exercise.

The ink really gives endless possibilities to work with. I moved from one direction to other, from thin lines/spreads to thicker ones. The ammonia and water helped create more working time with the ink and achieve other effects. Yupo paper really helps when I rethink the shapes once they dried.

The first two images I dragged, scratched and made very random marks. At the end they both look like eyes or something like that.

For image 3, I used glue first and allowed it to dry. The mark with the glue was random as well. I moved the glue around as it came out of the jar. After, I added the ink and brushed it “off” and added ammonia to see the interaction with the ink. Image 4 made itself. Apart from the first shapes I did with water and a brush, the rest just came as I added the rest of the materials. I’m very happy with the result on this one. I wouldn’t change anything because I feel it is a “happy accident” of experimentation. Image 5 and 6 were similar. On image 5 I used more ink and ammonia, and once it dried I kept working on removing some ink to create more white “drips” always following the flow of the shape. Image 6 has more water and less work of removal or editing of ink. Image 7 I want to keep working on, eventually. It came darker than the rest and I’m not sure the ink I added, once it had dried, created any visual “pleasantness.” Was this the purpose of the exercise? I think not. However, because is Yupo paper and the exercise is a temporary drawing I’m happy that I’ll be able to edit it later.

With some pages I lost the intention when it dried (the ink) but the same versatility of the materials helped work on it. More than a warm-up, it really pumped me to keep going. I couldn’t just do one. I had to keep “finding.”

I really enjoyed this warm-up exercise. I discovered new materials and new possibilities, and it was a great start for Drawing Skills class.


***All images are scanned to provide more close-up detail. I share with the readers my first attempts to ever use Yupo paper (last two images). If you have any suggestions about using the materials, thank you in advance!***

Image copyright by Ana Barahona


Desk & Journal by Ana Barahona

My Learning Log

As part of my Fine Arts studies, I am required to keep a Learning Log. I must say, at first I was excited, then confused, excited again, scared and excited all over again. Scared because sharing my log will be like sharing personal thoughts and feelings, something I am not very keen of doing. But I take it as a challenge because I believe in personal development and growth. “Deeper self-awareness leads to self-acceptance.” And even though I may struggle with some personal thoughts and feelings, artistically I think it’s important to understand where these come from. Why am I doing this? What do I see through these colors and shapes? What do I want to say? Maybe nothing, maybe everything. But that is the beauty of this learning log and the reason why I’m excited to begin.

I’ve been slow in my start, going through all the materials and trying to set a schedule for my studies that works best for me and that will help me achieve my goal. At the same time, I don’t want to over think it. I just want to do it. As I search for balance between my day-to-day tasks and my art (my studies), I can’t help but feel overwhelmed about the process. Will I let myself down? And what would you say my dear inner critic? I know I will meet you down this learning log. But I will fight hard not to let you keep me down, because in the words of the great wise man “Life is too short not to create something with every breath we draw.” (Maynard James Keenan)


Image copyright by Ana Barahona – Desk & Journal