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  • Writer's pictureSarah Moncrieff

Making a mark

Watching the Big Painting Challenge on BBC 1 this Sunday I was pleased to hear mentor Pascal Anson refer to mark making and asking participants not to make marks for the sake of it but to make marks with the paint that “mean something”.

This is a difficult but important concept to grasp. It is easy to give in to a desire to splash the paint on without really considering its impact and asking yourself important questions such as what colour and which brush should I use? and how should I apply the paint?

One of my favourite painters, Frank Auerbach, who uses a lot of paint in the most communicative way does not get caught up in representing the finer details. Instead he allows the paint in all its richness and thickness to tell the story of the scene. In interview he refers to wanting to say as much as possible as economically as possible.

Frank Auerbach “Morning Crescent”

Until you engage in the act of painting itself this can seem puzzling, but whilst working on my latest series of paintings of Greatmoor Energy from Waste in Buckingham I am very much concerned with this. The compositions are complex and I have had to select and extract the structures I want to paint in order to convey the sense of the scene but without getting caught up in the minutiae of vast quantities of criss-crossing pipe work. Not only do I have to make this selection but I have to consider the paint itself, where to place the darks and the lights, which colours to emphasise and which to interpret. It’s no easy process!

Sarah Moncrieff - “The Boiler, Greatmoor”

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