2.4 Drawing with tea bags

Key words from the brief:

  • Gather alternative drawing materials and conduct some simple studies in order to test how these materials can be used and determine what types of marks they are capable of producing
  • Using a single page or double page spread in your sketchbook, produce some test marks for each material
  • Once you have made your test marks, and have identified a particular material that you feel has potential, choose a relatively simple object or scene and use your material to draw it
  • Reflect in your learning log about the results of these experiments

My approach

I selected six drawing tools in total.

Three of these I’d experimented with during 1.2 Making mistakes – working fast and cutting up work:

  1. A small printmaking roller
  2. A sponge
  3. My fingers

And three were new:

  1. A spikey pulasan fruit from Malaysia
  2. A fork
  3. A chopstick

Drawing implements

Test strips

I divided two A2 pages of my sketchbook into a grid of 18 rectangles and then used each of the six drawing objects to make test marks in three rectangles using black Indian ink.

Drawing with objects test strip
From top left marks made by: Pulasan fruit, fork, chopstick, sponge, printmaking roller and finger painting


I drew the child’s doll that I’d used as a subject in my final Printmaking 1 Assignment. The advantage was that I knew the subject through drawing it several times in the past and I thought the different drawing tools would make the kinds of marks that describe the doll; fork scratches for the hair, chopstick lines for the baby-grow top, printmaking roller for the background and sponge to add tone.

Doll pic retaken
Child’s doll painted using a fork, chopstick, printmaking roller, sponge and Indian Ink – A2 sized

Questions from the brief

Drawing tool What quality of mark did the materials produce? What other materials could they be combined with and how would this affect their aesthetic qualities? What type of objects would they suit- natural or manmade forms?


Small printmaking roller Flat strips of colour that quickly taper from black to grey as the roller loses ink Can be painted over with watercolour (see 2.2 Investigating a process). The addition of colour could enhance/emphasise the quality of the line Metal flat surfaces (see 1.2 Making mistakes – working fast and cutting up work). Also good for giving the effect of movement when combined with other materials (see the image development in Assignment 1 – Recording and sharing your work)
Sponge Deep black swathes with a loaded sponge or scratch-like swishes when there is less paint. Chinese characters effect when used in a writing motion Can be over painted using Posca acrylic pens (see 1.2 Making mistakes – working fast and cutting up work). The acrylic pens provide form and/or highlight to the sponged shapes Organic shapes where there needs to be heavy contrast and/or bold marks
Finger painting Stubby texture This technique could be combined with more three-dimensional materials such as Liquitex Texture Gel. It’s a very tactile way of applying paint and this combination could add depth and texture to an image Organic shapes, flowers, leaves, plants (see 1.2 Making mistakes – working fast and cutting up work)
Pulasan fruit Scratchy speckled texture when rolled Multiple uneven lines when dragged This technique would combine well with splattering liquid watercolour. It would add to the splattering effect and give a more controlled /even finish Add texture to man-made objects such as concrete or to natural surfaces such as stone
Chopstick Behaved very much like a pen nib when loaded with ink (both ends of the chopstick used to give different width lines), but produces textured line as ink is used up This technique could be combined with gouache or acrylic paint. Unlike a dip pen that would clog up when combined with other wet paint, working with a chopstick is much more robust. Very flexible tool – worked well for man-made textiles where there is a consistent pattern (see Child’s doll drawing above)
Fork Scratchy evenly spaced lines, much like have four pen nibs side-by-side. Could be combined with watercolour to provide tone and shape to the tight lines and textures created by the fork Man-made surfaces with even flat repeat patterns or organic textures where there is a degree of mess and randomness such as hair (see Child’s doll drawing above)


What went well

  • The choice of objects gave a good range of effects (and surprises) that I will use in future drawings.
  • I was amazed at how easy it was to use chopsticks to draw with a consistent/controlled/expressive line. This is a good addition to working with a dip pen.

What would I do differently/better

  • I was aiming to draw a dark menacing image of the doll but it turned out to be too cute and engaging; not plastic enough or mannequin-like.
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