Category Archives: Mark Making

Pencil Study

Today I decided it was about time I did a little pencil study to better understand the behaviour of my pencils. I use mark making a great deal in my work and sometimes I want the pencil mark to move or bleed into my paints and other times I want it to remain on the painting as a sharp line.

I have a large range of pencils that I have accumulated over time and generally I don’t spend a great deal of time choosing which one I want to use. But sometimes they don’t behave on the artwork the way I had intended, so I thought it was about time I did another little pencil experiment.

You will see here that I have quickly drawn out a few boxes and with each pencil I have drawn inside a box with a few straight lines and another with a solid scribbled line. Then with each box I have painted over with clear water to see how water soluble they were.

Pencil study
Pencil Study
Pencil Sudy

It was interesting to see that different brands of the same type of pencil can behave differently. You will see here that the Koh – I -Noor HB pencil bled less with water than the Royal Graphite HB pencil. That is why it is important to know your pencils.

From the 28 pencils that I experimented with the ONLY pencil that did not move or bleed with water was the Chinamarker, which I guess I already knew.

The most water soluble ones that I used, that is the ones that bled the darkest black, were the ArtGraf and Stabilo Woody.

These were closely followed by:

Graphite LYRA Water Soluble
Stabilo Aquarellable 8046
Derwent Inktense
Stabilo Carbathello
Conte à Paris

Water soluble art pencils

And my final conclusion was that I have far too may pencils!

I probably could whittle them down to about 5 or 6 different types. So I may just keep that selection in a different container so that I can easily find the one that I want.

I hope you have found this little experiment useful.

Mark Making Idea – Roller Ball Bottles

I came up with a new mark making idea with these roller ball bottles.

Roller ball bottles used for mark making

I had received a bottle of cuticle oil for Christmas in a bottle with a stainless steel roller ball tip and whilst I was using it I suddenly had a lightbulb moment. I thought these bottles would be a great way of rolling paint. So, I found some empty refillable bottles on Amazon, filled one up with acrylic paint and gave it a try. And as you can see it worked a treat.

I filled the bottles with acrylic paint.

Refillable bottle with stainless steel roller ball tip filled with acrylic paint

I used High Flow acrylic for one and Fluid Acrylic for the other but watered down so that it would flow better.

Roller ball bottles filled with acrylic paint

I have decided it is probably best to store them upside down so that the paint doesn’t dry out on the roller ball which may make it difficult to roll.

Roller ball bottles stored upside down to prevent dried out paint clogging the roller

I have added the Amazon links for the bottles on my Favourite Art Supplies page Tools & Equipment

I love it when I come up with a new mark making idea. I hope you like it. Give it a go and let me know what you think.

Mark Making Ideas 5

Today I have a great tutorial for you on how to make your own rubber stamps for mark making. These are so quick and easy to make and VERY inexpensive. I love carving my own stamps and I think you are gonna love these ideas.

I carved this stamp a while back and you can see it is well used. I find it very useful for adding marks and it appears in lots of my work.

Mark Making Stamp

Round stamp

But since deciding to share these mark making tips with you I have carved myself some more and I can’t wait to use them.

You can buy this Stamp Carving Kit very easily on Amazon.

Stamp Carving Kit

And this is what you will get.

Speedball Stamp Carving

It is very inexpensive and I would definitely recommend you buy the stamp carving tool, which you can also buy separately I believe (with different shaped blades too).

But as you can see I haven’t even opened the Speedy Carve Rubber yet. And that is because I use these.


Yes that’s right. Just everyday erasers. These were all very cheap erasers. Just pennies really. And they are perfect!


You will also find a craft knife very useful. Indeed you could do the entire carving with a craft knife but the Speedball Cutting Tool does make the job easier I find.

Craft Knife

So, let’s carve our first rubber stamp then, eh!

First of all I draw my design directly on to the eraser. I use a very fine marker pen for this. I don’t choose elaborate designs, just simple shapes. They are purely to add interest to my work.


Then I use my Speedball carving tool to begin the carving. Here is my first cut.

First cut

I continue in this manner just cutting the outline of the shapes.


Then I continue to carve with the tool, making sure that the background to the shapes is well carved away. It needs to be a significant depth so as not to attract paint or ink when applying to finished stamp.


If the design is more intricate then I use the Craft Knife for the tricky bits as I can get into the nooks and crannies more easily with this. Make sure to carve a little at a time in order not to make any heavy handed mistakes in the cutting. !!! Do remember you are working with very sharp tools, so be careful not to slip and cut yourself !!!

When I am happy with the cut aways I then use an emery board (nail file) to sharpen up all my edges to complete. When you are happy with the shape and cut aways make sure to brush away all the loose crumbs of rubber. I do this with a small dry paint brush.

Next, ink up your completed eraser to make sure you are happy with all of the carving. Make sure that no parts of the eraser are picking up the ink that you don’t want to. I just press mine on an ink stamp pad.


And then test it out on a piece of paper.


If you are happy with the stamped design your eraser is ready to use. If you are not happy with the stamped image go back and re-carve until you are satisfied.

Here are the other stamps that I carved.

[easy-image-collage id=307]

[easy-image-collage id=309]

[easy-image-collage id=311]

Can you believe how easy it is? I have stamped these carved rubber stamps here and there on to this painted background purely so that you can see the effect.


They are cool, aren’t they?

You can use them with ink pads or any of your paints. I use mine a lot with acrylic paint. I do give them a bit of a scrub with water and a small scrubbing brush after use. You will never get all of the paint off but you don’t want to get the grooves clogged up with too much paint.

I do hope you have a go at carving some of these yourself. They are so easy to do (each one took me about 15 minutes to make) and there are infinite possibilities for designs.

I will save my Speedy Carve rubber mat for a more intimate design I think. But for the moment I can’t wait to go and try out these new rubber stamps that I have carved for you today.

Happy Carving!




Mark Making Ideas 4

Today I am going to hopefully inspire you to look for implements around the house that you can use for mark making. My eyes are now finely tuned to look for shapes in everyday items and I come across new mark making implements all the time.


The kitchen is a good source of supplies for me. How about a spatula?


Who would have thought!


Or a plastic pizza slicer…….. not sure how good it is for slicing pizza.


But it glides across my artwork beautifully to create erratic lines.

Pizza Slicer

And a basting brush, which I actually use a lot in the kitchen, (not the same one I use for painting I hasten to add)

Basting Brush

Makes some good random marks.

Basting Brush

Then we have paint scrapers.

Paint Scrapers

I use these a lot to add painted lines.

ScrapersNow let’s go to the hairdressers. These combs were cheap and cheerful

Hair combsI drag them a little across the page


And …… not sure what you call this but it is the plastic brush that you use to pull hair conditioner through your hair.

Hair brush

I like this one because I can creat circular dots like this.

Hair brush

Or if I twist it as I print it makes this nice twisted dots design.

Hair brush twist

Then finally…… and I use these a lot!

Doggie poo bags!

Dog bags

But not the bags but the inner roll that the bags are rolled on to. (already used, hence the paint)

Plastic tube

I always save these because they are useful for printing circles.

Tube close up

Tube dots

I should point out that for all my mark making I first spread my paint with a brayer on to a piece of heavy duty glass that I keep on my art worktop. (the glass was an idea that I got from Flora Bowley). Then I press my mark making tools into the paint spread to gather up paint.

Well that is al for today. Although I suspect I could come up with endless more ideas if I started rummaging in my drawers. What Ideas can you come up with for implements that will make interesting marks? Go and have a search around the house and see what you can find.

I will be blogging again next week with some more mark making ideas and I think you are gonna love them. So do remember to stop by again next week or in case you forget you might like to subscribe to my blog posts on the top right of the Home page.

Mark Making Ideas 3

Today we will be using fun foam again to make more mark making tools. We are going to make a stamping tool.

First of all you will need your fun foam.

Fun Foam

And an old credit card or Hotel room key. Often these types of card are used as advertising gimmicks too. Never EVER throw these away. They are so useful for many things in art. I will give you more ideas for these another time.

Credit cards

Cut yourself three small oblongs about 4″ x 3″. Layer and stick these together with quick drying craft glue.

Fun Foam thickness

Cut out some small shapes of your choice from the craft foam. I have cut out triangular shapes for my stamping tool. I have purposely cut these to odd shaped sizes for the usual randomness that I enjoy. (You can see they are not perfect and that works well for me). Then I have stuck them to one side of my old credit card.

Credit card stamper 2

Next you will need some old wine (or champagne) corks. Once again, always save yourself a little stock of corks. They are so useful.

Mark Making Corks

I have cut down a wine bottle cork to make myself a small handle for my credit card. You can use a craft knife or scissors. This handle is not essential but makes the credit card stamp easier to use.

Credit card stamper 3

Now add paint and begin stamping.

Credit card stamper 4

It does add some more interesting marks to your artwork.

Foam Stamp design

If you don’t have a credit card you can use the same technique to add foam shapes to strips of cardboard. Here are two of mine that I have stuck to an ordinary piece of thick card and a corrugated piece.


You will probably notice that for these cardboard stamps I only used one layer of foam. And I also carved some lines into them for more texture. They also do not have cork handles. These two stamps I use a lot. I find these marks very useful in my work.

I also use the edge of my corrugated card stamp to make marks too.


You see I am always thinking of ways of making marks. Just add paint and stamp.

Card edge stamped

These cardboard foam stamps were the original way that I made my foam stamps. Since then I have progressed to the credit card type. Why?

  1. Because they are easier to wash off the paint (being plastic).
  2. Because the cork handles make them easier to place and lift off my work
  3. Because the three layers of foam add height and prevent the edges of the plastic from gathering paint and adding hard edges to my design.

But both methods work so just make use of what materials you have.

Here you will see glimpses of the stamps being used in my work.

Foam stamp idea

Foam stamp idea 2

Foam stamp image

Now it’s time for you to make some foam stamps. Let’s see what you come up with. Please leave me a comment below to let me know how you get on.

There will be another mark making post here tomorrow. I hope you are enjoying my ‘Mark Making’ series. Remember if you would like to follow this series it may be a good idea to ‘Subscribe to Posts’ in the top right hand side of the Home page or follow me through your RSS feed.