Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Scribble Painting

I gave my Sketchbook Practice class the assignment of making as series of "scribble paintings", and then cutting them up to make grid compositions.  A scribble painting, or drawing, is one in which you are just making a variety of marks, trying to get some variety, but without regard for composition.  After all, you are going to tear it to pieces, or cut it up somehow anyway.  Here is an example of the process:
Original Scribble Painting

I cut up the painting and placed some pieces in a loose grid composition.

Then I painted over and around it to tie it together.
 I found that working with the intention of tearing up the results, I came up with some pretty interesting compositions.  Some of the pieces I really like, and wish I had done in large format on good paper (the scribble paintings are on cheap drawing paper).

On this one I used the gel plate with string.

Of course, the challenge is to get in the mindset of planning to tear up your piece, but without actually intending to tear up your piece.  I'm sure this is a matter of just doing the work and Putting In the Hours.  I'll keep you posted as I put in more hours and figure this out.

Meanwhile, I am teaching Scribble Painting at CREATE in Chicago on August 23, and at ART and SOUL on October 1.  These are both three-hour evening classes.  I will also be doing plenty of scribble painting in my summer workshop, Collage Journeys in Vermont.

Really, though, this is fun to do in a group, but you can just try it in your own studio.  Give yourself a few parameters (limit your colors, materials, and tools) and just see what kinds of marks you can make.  Go for variety.  Here is an example of how you could proceed:
  1. Make some bold marks, using a relatively large brush and a strong color or black.
  2. Let that dry.  Apply some clean water to the paper, then add paint (a new color) to both wet and dry areas.  See what kinds of shapes that makes. 
  3. Use your paint brush to make lines, using either a third color, or one of the previous colors.
  4. Switch tools.  Use a brayer or a different brush, or a credit card to apply more paint.
  5. Choose a stamp or stencil and add some smaller shapes in a contrasting color.
  6. Make fine lines using one or more pens (Uni-ball Signo Gel Pen in white is fabulous for opaque quite lines).  Doodle. Scribble.
  7. Choose another drawing tool to make different lines.
  8. Keep going like this, or stop and move on to the next one.  Make up your own rules.
To see a few more of my scribble paintings, go to my Flickr site. Have fun with this!  I'd love to hear your ideas or experiences with this process.


  1. I really love these, Jane....truly inspiring....

  2. Wonderful pieces Jane. Thanks so much for sharing your process!

  3. Your colors are so beautiful. Some of these are too gorgeous to tear up. Thank you for all of the wonderful ideas and inspiration!

  4. Just when I think they are too fabulous to tear up, you tear them up; and they are still fabulous in a new way. Love 'em!

  5. It's a great process Jane. I recently attended a workshop using these techniques... http://jomurray-art.blogspot.com.au/2012/03/creative-workshop.html. Love the results obtained from your first image. You tied it together well.

  6. That is so cool. Thanks for sharing the steps and example. I'm definitely going to have to plaice it a try.

  7. You come up with the best ideas of ways to free up our thinking/painting. I can't wait to give this a try and see if I can eventually come up with some that are worthy of NOT being cut up! Thanks for the beautiful inspiration.

  8. Since I am a process gal I really appreciated the list. Of course I sailed off course often, but it will help keep me in focus. Thanks.

    1. Hi Julie-Anne. Glad the list is of help. It is really meant as an example of how you might proceed, not a step-by-step, so go ahead and sail off course to your heart's content! And make up your own list. Keep your focus on NOT thinking about the composition as a whole, but on creating variety within your parameters. Have fun with this!

  9. Hey Jane, I am new to your blog and enjoyed this piece. The challenge of creating with the idea in mind - that there is no fear cause we are going to cut it up anyway, gives a freedom for sure. But Like you, I have often found I do that with my cheap paint and cheap paper and regret it. SO...sometimes....with trepidation, :-), I pull out good paper and my best tools - knowing it may be only an exercise, and go for it.:-) In the end, I have yet to see that we don`t somehow find a home for everything! Really considering your class in Portland. Thanks for this inspiration.

  10. I am loving your free thinking (or not) style and the abstract look Jane! This is something totally new to me as I mostly have created collage that's pretty and/or vintage ,girly, you know. I've already tried one of the abstract projects you posted about previously(the black and white mark making with the now infamous chickens!)and LOVE the results! I'm certainly going to give this a try too-thank you SO much for showing me a way to create with new eyes, and for your helpful steps to getting started. I find this a really great way to still be creative when my mind won't allow me to come up with something structured.

  11. And of course you can always use the cheap paper pieces to make prints from fineartamerica.com so nothing is lost if you rip them up for another work.
    And I'd like to request that you make the blog pics larger (when we click on them) by unchecking the "Showcase images with Lightbox " at Setting> Post and Comments on Blogger. Thanks,

    1. Make prints from Fine Art America? Huh? Sounds interesting.

  12. Really luv this art process, you never know what you're going to come up with until it's finished. Thanx for the inspiration! Khara


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