Drawing: Make Your Mark
Once upon a time somebody asked me to write some words to persuade people to draw things on a board they were putting in their bathroom. I was to talk about drawing using x amount of words. It was a time when I said yes too often:
The most human of actions, making marks unites us across the generations. Before we learn to write we can draw. What child hasn’t enhanced the wallpaper, usually the good one, with lipstick or a permanent marker? Or even before that, finger-paint with food in their high chair? And when we learn to write, is it not just an extension of drawing – the ordered patterns and forms just more delightful marks on a surface?
Who hasn’t burnt a line on paper or a street surface with a magnifying glass? What person has not dragged a stick in the sand, leaving an image to be gently removed by the sea or the wind? Or dragged that stick along some railings leaving little marks behind? So many people doodle while on the telephone one wonders what people did when they doodled before the telephone was invented.
Everybody makes marks. Everybody draws and everybody writes – even those who claim not to. Have you ever played hangman? Tic-Tac-Toe is so universal it’s known as noughts and crosses and as ‘x’s and ‘o’s, among other names. Battleships, the Name game, Hopscotch, Join-the-Dots, Mazes – they’re all drawing and writing.
Are you animated when you talk? Does it extend to your hands? Is that not drawing – symbols that disappear literally as they appear? If a grown man and a small boy are standing beside a pile of stones and a body of water, it’s a certainty what will happen. The throwing of the stones is drawing, arcs short, long, high and low. And then the increasing concentric circles in the water that start from where the thrown missile connects.
Perhaps when that little boy returns home the grown man will line a pencil with the top of his head and mark his height on an unpainted wall as of that moment. And maybe the boy’s mother is holding a spirit level higher up against the same wall and making marks where she’ll hang her next project.
Outline your hand and turn it into a turkey. Fall when snow falls – make a Snow Angel. Carve a heart on a tree trunk, or your name on a bar in a pub. Mark your garden where you’re going to put your fence posts. Use your finger to make a smiley face on a fogged up window. Making such marks is a part of the human condition.
Perhaps you’ve forgotten or no longer acknowledge that you draw, but essentially you’re still that little child, and in one form or another you’ll always draw. So take a moment now to leave your mark – whatever it may be.