Painting and drawing is one of those art disciplines that scares a lot of students. We get so much feedback from teachers that their students “like” drawing, but feel they “can’t” do it. For most students, it’s because they still feel that a drawing has to be photorealistic and they find it hard to see the beauty in other kinds of mark making, or sometimes they just don’t recognise the potential of marks at all.

The idea for focusing on getting a grounding and awareness of the beauty of marks and paint was developed with the support of a fantastic painter called Sally Taylor who uses gestural marks and very considered application of paint in her work.

Many colours and textures make up an image to make it look natural. Within any image there will be many different textures and tones of colour. The task is to use paint in different ways experimentally in preparation to paint different parts of an image.

It can be used to help create an abstract or figurative painting or a drawing, but is particularly successful with figurative work as students seem to struggle with this the most.

The exercise should take no longer than a couple of hours, but does need a little preparation beforehand. The outcome is a fantastic sheet to have in a portfolio or development sketchbook as it demonstrates your breadth of skills and awareness of the medium.


1. Ideally, have a look at the list below and search online for any terms you haven’t heard of before. This will save time while you are engaged in practical application of paint and can focus better.

2. Break your image down into at least 10 different parts based on tone and texture.

3. Now try to reproduce these based on what you have learnt from looking at other artists. Apply these in lines across an A1 sheet of paper. Make sure that each line uses a different technique or process. Here are suggestions of the kinds of materials, techniques and processes you might use:



  • Runny
  • Mixed
  • Thick
  • Transparent
  • Opaque
  • Combined with media



  • Dry Brush
  • Drips & Runs
  • Blots + Spray
  • Layered & Glaze
  • Wet on wet
  • Sponging
  • Impasto
  • Scumbling
  • Lifting
  • Masking
  • Stippling
  • Losing
  • Blurring
  • Tonal



  • Scratching
  • Random
  • Patterned
  • Comb
  • Brush
  • Corrugated card
  • Fingers
  • Smearing
  • Sgraffito
Daniel Freaker Daniel Freaker Educational Consultant, Editor for Pearson Portfolio.