KS4 Art & Design: Mark Making [Lesson 2]

As part of this GCSE Painting Project, here is my second lesson in exploring mark-making – this time using watercolours. The aim was to show texture, movement and blend tones whilst still showing the brush strokes, similar to the style of Van Gogh.

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This lesson was to help students practise their painting techniques, and try something new with watercolours that they hadn’t done before. Usually, students would blend watercolour paints with a wash. This time, to link more to mark-making and the work of Van Gogh, I wanted students to be able to still see their brush strokes.

Van Gogh GCSE Painting project - mark making - landscape

After discussing Van Gogh and his painting style, students worked in their sketchbooks. They were asked to draw four boxes and fill each with a different colour, creating dark to light in two then blending gradually from one colour to another. This was challenging using watercolours as pupils had to ensure they had the right amount of of paint/water and let each ‘layer’ dry before painting over it. As one layer dried they moved onto the next box to start on that one.

I really love these examples from the pupils! Their sketchbook pages look really expressive and once they had started working, they were purposeful in their painting technique to ensure they got the right outcomes.

mark-making GCSE painting project
WAtercolour painting techniques - mark making

The aim was to be able to see the marks and brush strokes, so some students who added too much water let them dry then tried again over the top. Others who didn’t get a ‘gradual’ blend from dark to light worked over the top with a midtone to improve their work.

At this stage I haven’t discussed page layout or composition with pupils, they’ve just worked from my example. Some have made very personal responses which I like, as the outcomes are different.

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I was really pleased with the outcomes and so were the students, what do you think? Have you tried anything like this with your classes?

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