Part One: Observing and Capturing: Mark Making Drawings

Project 2: Recording and Capturing

Exercise 1.3 Making Marks

After my four-hour visit to Dumfries Museum (for which, many thanks to Lydia Cant, for being so helpful; and to the other staff for their welcome, coffee! and helpful comments), I made two drawings of each piece that I had chosen to study using pencil (the only medium permitted next to the exhibits). I decided to try out different marks within each drawing to try to represent the drape, texture, pattern etc of the objects.

1 The Rag Rug


Looking at the frayed border with its large loops of fabric, and a small patch of striped fabric ?ribbon. The loops were flattened into crazy-paving patterns that varied from loop to loop, yet still had a perceptible line and rhythm. I tried a 6B pencil, and graphite block on its side and corner. The blurry block-type marks were the ones I thought worked best.


Trying out wavy lines to represent the loops didn’t work very well. The simple lines showed the hooked pattern well, but not the loops. The top centre shows some shading made to represent the ingrained dirt on the rug.


Quick marks using side and corner of graphite block – interesting pattern but not much like the rug.


A3 cartridge paper, pencil, graphite.


This drawing is on A5, thick watercolour paper. I tried a contour line of the edge, quickly drawn, then experimented with different ways of representing the pattern and the individual, flattened loops of the rug: fuzzy lines, heavy strokes close together, a mosaic pattern (seen on the cat – didn’t work) and soft shapes made with the side of the pencil. The latter worked best to represent the fabric loops, and I could vary the pressure to represent the different tones present in the pattern. They had a nice ‘frayed’ look to them which was present in the fabric.

2 The Quilt


Looking at the pattern of the mixture of fabrics used in the quilt. Somewhat successful, but it would take hours to complete a drawing with this much detail in it.


This is a section of the reverse of the quilt, showing ?rust marks, hand quilting stitches, creasing to the binding and the hand stitches attaching the binding to the reverse. I think this section of the drawing works well in showing the sort of hand stitches and the meandering quality of the quilting that the maker of the quilt used.


A3 cartridge paper with pencil. This shows some of the blocks of the quilt with a section of the backing revealed.

A5 quick pencil drawing to capture the soft, draping quality of the quilt. The finer lines show the block placement. I quite liked this fast drawing and decided to have another, more detailed go at this sort of composition back at home.

3 Sanquhar Knit Pullover


A3 cartridge paper, drawing in pencil. The side of the pencil gave a soft line which represented the ribbing of the neck quite well, either singly, or two parallel lines. The knitting pattern itself was a somewhat harder challenge to capture. I tried fuzzy lines, bold, graphic, fast lines, but decided that the little V shapes looked most like the stitches present in the garment.


The zig zag lines suggested the ribbing on the cuffs worked quite well.


Trying out soft zig zag lines compared to cross hatching for the pattern – both methods might have their place depending on which aspect you wanted to focus on (pattern or texture).


The ribbed collar, stitching at the neck and part of the garment label. I liked this area of the drawing.


Overview of the drawing. The hairiness of the wool is represented by the small area of shading on the left shoulder.

A5 watercolour paper, pencil drawing. Quick up and down strokes for the ribbing, shuffly hesitant lines for the checked pattern, tiny looping circles or quick zig zag lines for the diamond shapes, overall shading to represent the texture and tone. I quite liked this little drawing as it made the jumper look puffy and hairy, except that I made the garment too short in the body.

Back at home over the following couple of weeks, I made some more drawings taken from photographs and with the descriptive words in mind. I made some tools for mark making that I thought might come in useful – pads of stuffing or wadding; frayed fabric attached to a paintbrush; thick card with notches in it etc

1 Rag Rug

I chose a chunk of corrugated cardboard (54 x 33.5 cm) to use as the base for this piece, because it seemed heavy, sturdy and matt in finish, like the rug itself. I used bubblewrap and a black ink pad to print a small section of the rug. I dragged the ink in the border to make it look frayed. Overprinting in the regions I wanted to appear darker gave some different tones. I could see that this had produced some interesting effects, but it felt a bit messy and not really ‘me’. It might come in useful as a technique for printing onto fabric, though, so I will bear it in mind.

A4 printing with knobbly wool binding a stuffed nylon pad with acrylic paint. I tried to capture the texture of the rug in this drawing. The fraying in the border was suggested, but not the loops or pattern. Maybe useful as a ‘distant foliage’ texture, though, for future use!

An A5 pencil and charcoal drawing with ink overprinting to add a dirty, gritty look to the image. I used a small ‘tremor’ motion to make the lines of the rug in this drawing, in which I tried to convey the pattern and texture of the rug. Although I got the dimensions wrong (the rug looks too deep front to back), it was one of my favourite drawings I made of the rug, I think this is because it accentuates the pattern, and the ‘comfort’and ‘utility’ aspects of the rug.

2 Patchwork Quilt


I made this drawing on white tissue paper (70 x 45 cm) to represent the delicate, fragile qualities of the quilt (and probably the damaged aspect before long, too!). I tried to capture the pattern, drape, and tone using large felt tip marker, pencil, and printing with various objects (a cluster of cocktail sticks, the end of a square lump of graphite, etc) using an ink pad. In some cases I just suggested a stylised version of the fabric, in others I tried to copy the actual pattern. From my point of view, this was my most successful attempt, because I liked the dark lines giving the structure and construction of the piece, mixed with the numerous patterns and marks, and it seemed to suit the flimsy paper.

3 Pullover

A3 size drawing, showing a detail of the pullover (the arm to body seam). I used oil pastel to make the V-shaped ‘knitting’ mark that I had experimented with at the museum. The rough texture of the canvas automatically made the marks look woolly and fuzzy, but I added another layer of marks with a toothbrush dipped in acrylic paint, used very dry. I thought that this showed the texture, pattern and thickness of the jumper quite well.

I found this exercise interesting and useful. I had not drawn textiles in such detail before. It really enables you to appreciate the differences between textiles, (construction, texture, surface, patterns, weight etc) and the work that has gone into producing a finished object made from those textiles, such as the hand stitching on the quilt. Drawing from the actual objects was invaluable and I took the time to experiment with different marks to see which worked best in representing the items. This allowed me to home in on the ones I felt had been most successful, when making further drawings at home from the reference photographs.



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