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Curiosities: Rick Valicenti & 21st Century Thirst, Spring 2010 fau galleries

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              Curiosities: Rick Valicenti & 21st Century Thirst, Spring 2010 – FAU Galleries


Graphic Design and Mark Making


In 2006, while visiting the Shanghai Art Museum, Rick Valicenti found himself interested with its calligraphy collection. Each black marking felt so alive – so present. He knew then that he wanted to make something for himself that would capture his presence and be surprising at the same time.


In November 2007, Valicenti further realized his project through inspiration from the spontaneous, gravity-infused tag markings up and down North Ashland Avenue in Chicago. During the nine months that followed, he created over 575 “Notes to Self” spontaneous drawings working with tools he had not yet experienced: a plastic syringe and a foam brush.





Rick Valicenti. Notes to Self, ink. (Experimental mark making series)



Mark Making


If you break down the graphic arts down to their most fundamental element, you find the mark. Marks are like building blocks in that they are individual and discrete, but can be used in a repetitive manner to create almost any visual effect. Marks can be highly gestural and expressive, or controlled and mechanical. The degree to which artists can achieve certain desired effects is determined by their choice of tool, medium, and quality of gestures. Marks can be descriptive, expressive, conceptual, and symbolic in nature. A mark extended in time becomes a line.


The way in which we make marks in large measure determines our personal style. Think of your own signature. The way in which you form the letters that comprise your name is a unique set of marks with legal and psychological significance. Artists can refine their personal vocabulary of marks to develop deeply individual methods of working and new styles


Post-Visit Activity


Goal: To gain an understanding of how marks and lines are fundamental elements of graphic art. To gain a hands-on learning experience by using various tools, mediums, gestures, and styles in order to extend one's own expressive vocabulary and to create a reflection of one’s personality.


Materials: Straws, ink, paper, brush, pencil eraser, strings, and any other material that can be used to create marks.




- Use a straw to blow ink across paper on a horizontal surface.

- Use a foam brush or dropper to drip ink down paper on a vertical surface

- Use a variety of objects (pencil eraser, fingers, string, etc.) to dab, drip or trail ink across the surface of the paper

- Create a series of marks on paper, then fold paper in half to create an “inkblot” effect                                                       


a) Experiment with a full range of mark making tools, including traditional and non-traditional implements. There should be evidence of experimenting with all mark making possibilities with each tool employed.

b) Try different surfaces, papers, and textures.

c) The image itself should reflect your personality and something about yourself such as where you are from, personal beliefs or convictions, culture and or concerns.


Image details: A graffiti artist preparing artwork  for the “Ill Communication II” exhibition at Urbis.

Further studies…

Look at artworks by Jean-Michel Basquiat,

Cy Twombley, Mark Tobey, and Mark Rothko.



Discussion/Writing Questions


- How do you identify yourself? How does society at large identify you?

- How do other societies or cultures or groups identify their members?

- What graphic elements or marks can artists use to express their own identity in a work of art?

- How can you use, replicate, combine, or transform these elements in your own artwork?



Questions for Critique of Completed Projects


- Using at least 3 vocabulary words from this unit, can you describe this work?

- What is the initial "feeling" or emotional response you get when first viewing this work?

- What can you determine of the artist’s personality from the work?

- What element in this image was the most successful and should be carried to the next project?

- What element in this image is the least successful and needs more attention? What would you change?

Sunshine State Standards: VA.A.1.4, VA.E.1.3, VA.C.1.3, VA.D.1.3, VA.C.1.4, LA., LA., LA., LA.910.1.6.1 ,LA.,SS.912.A.1.7, SS.912.A.1, LA.1112.1.6.1, SS.912.A.1, LA.1112.1.6.1 ,









Calligraphy: 1) beautiful handwriting, fine penmanship. 2) a script, usually cursive, esp. Chinese, Japanese, or Arabic writing of high aesthetic value. 3) a line or a group of lines that either are derived from or resemble cursive letter forms produced with a brush.


Contour: any drawn outline, especially if curved


Curvilinear: characterized by a curving line used to form abstract patterns, such as spirals, circles, swirls, and S-shapes, as well as to define human facial features.


Diagonal line: slanted, oblique lines or markings


Gesture: a movement of the body, head, arms, hands, or face that is expressive of an idea, opinion, emotion, etc.


Graffiti: words or phrases written on public sidewalks, on the walls of buildings, public restrooms etc. or the like.


Graffiti art: highly expressive painting that uses the vocabulary of street graffiti for aesthetic or expressive effect. Graffiti art often quotes the techniques of the street artist by using spray paint and highly personal signatures called "tags."


Horizontal line: line that goes from side to side, parallel to the horizon


Implied line: The transition from edge to plane, or the line along an edge which isn't sharp, may be implied or suggested by making breaks in a line, a dotted line, or some variation between the two.


Line: a moving point or mark.


Mark: the most fundamental element of visual construction.


Medium: the material or technique with which an artist works. In painting, the liquid vehicle or "binder" in which pigment is mixed.


Rectilinear: characterized by straight lines and sharp edges


Shape: an element of art that is an enclosed space, the boundaries of which are defined by other elements of art (i.e.: lines, colors, values, textures, etc.).


Style: a particular, distinctive, or characteristic mode or form of construction or execution in any art or work.


Vertical line: line that goes up and down


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