Simple Basic Mark Making Painting - Easy Beginner Watercolor Exercises | Pauline Stanley | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Simple Basic Mark Making Painting - Easy Beginner Watercolor Exercises

teacher avatar Pauline Stanley,

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

13 Lessons (50m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Why I Love Mark Making

    • 3. Things to Keep in Mind

    • 4. Supplies

    • 5. Test Patterns

    • 6. Finding Inspiration

    • 7. Exercise One

    • 8. Exercise Two

    • 9. Exercise Three

    • 10. Exercise Four

    • 11. Review

    • 12. Applications

    • 13. Final Thoughts

  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels
  • Beg/Int level
  • Int/Adv level

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

Hi, I’m Pauline Stanley and I’m an artist, designer and illustrator. I just love simple graphic art and design. 

In this class, we’ll be making some quick and simple mark making pattern paintings. 

This style is fun because it’s all about casual play and experimentation. Minimal patterns are not only easy to paint, but they can also be quite effective in that they are both strong and eye catching, but also unassuming, imperfect and handmade. 

This class would be great for someone looking for simple painting exercises to loosen up, play and have fun. You could apply this style to many types of artwork and illustration.

Hope you’ll join me in class!


Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Pauline Stanley


Hi, I’m Pauline Stanley, a multidisciplinary designer, illustrator, artist and photographer living in Richmond, VA. My work is inspired by natural elements, Scandinavian + midcentury design, geometric shapes + patterns.

I run a product business, Pauline Stanley Studio, designing and making art, jewelry and home goods.

You can find me here:


Shop Website:


See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • Exceeded!
  • Yes
  • Somewhat
  • Not really
Reviews Archive

In October 2018, we updated our review system to improve the way we collect feedback. Below are the reviews written before that update.

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction: Hi, my name is Pauline Stan Lee and I'm an artist designer and illustrator. And I just loved simple graphic art and design. In this class we will be making some simple and quick mark making pattern. This style is fun because it's all about casual play and experimentation. This class would be great for someone looking for a simple pattern exercises to loosen up and have fun. You could apply this style to so many different types of our work and illustration. I hope you'll slow down, enjoy the process, enjoy the plan experimentation, and see what you come up with. Hope you'll join me in class. Okay. 2. Why I Love Mark Making: A few notes about the class before we have again. Okay, so let's talk about mark making. The concept behind this class is to use simple marks and pattern format to create simple abstract minimal pattern. Here are some of the reasons why I love this style of art. Number one, it's imperfect and handmade. When we make these marks on our paper, they will be imperfect, but in a good way. We are creating these marks with our own human hand. And they will all be different depending on different factors. Some factors like speed, pressure, artistic preference, et cetera. It's the whole lobby savvy idea. There is beauty in organic imperfections. Number 2, it's meditative. You can come to the paper with not too many expectations, work sort of quickly and get lost in that repetitive motion. That feels good to make art without too much pressure and too much thinking, you only have to focus on the intuitive doing. And that feels really good in art. Sometimes it feels good to get out of your head and just let our body flow. It's a visually graphic and bolts. The finished result is naturally visually very nice to the eye. The repetitive marks usually result in nice movement and flow to the painting. And the simple black paintings, nice and graphic and striking and bold. Lastly, it's the basic building blocks of art. These simple marks are so basic, yet so versatile and so important to how you make your art. They can be applied to so many different areas of art and design. The simple marks can move on to become so much more. It's basically where you start in your art practice and then where you take those basic lines and shapes and doodles is what will later on evolve your whole art practice. 3. Things to Keep in Mind: Okay, some notes to remember while we're painting. This is all experimentation and play. If this doesn't work, we can always try something else. These are quick experiment, so it's okay to be loose and let go. And B3, these marks do not have to be perfect or the same or anything like that, unless you want them to be. If you are going for perfection and control. And that is something that you can do a whole different thing and you can do it that way. But this class is really about just being loose and imperfect and just letting go a little bit. In fact, I want us all to celebrate the variation and imperfections. That is what will make them unique and interesting to look at in the end. We're painting intuitively. Oftentimes, our first marks are our best ones, in my opinion. Not because they're the most perfect, but because they are the most fresh. They are uncomplicated by our thoughts and our intentions. They just are how we naturally do things. 4. Supplies: Okay, for this class you will need some paper. You can use any kind of paper you'd like. But I am using this Canson watercolor paper. It's cold press, and this is a 11 by 15 sheet. But I fold them and I filled them in, tear them into half sheets. For this exercise, you will need some sort of paint. I am only using my black watercolor paper for this exercise. Another excellent choice would be ink. You could also use acrylic, squash, even pen and pencil if you really wanted to. I like to use the watercolor because there is variation in shade that happens with watercolor. Same with ink to, you can sort of use it at full concentration and then you can use it in water down. But it's too, which I really like the effect of that. But I think other types of paint have their own benefits. Such as if you used acrylic, you'd get a really nice dry mark when the paint would run out. So that has its own benefits as well. These are the brushes that I have here and I'm just going to play with a variety of them. But to be honest, you can use whatever brush you would like to use. And it doesn't even have to be rush. It could be any type of writing utensil. I have the water for the watercolor. I have a towel. Little towel or you have a paper towel just to clean your brush off if you need to. I have art artist's tape or Art Tatum. This is four taping off the sides of the paper because we're going to have it taped, write down on a piece of cardboard would you also should use for the class too? And I will show you that in the next step. Okay, so here is my paper and my piece of cardboard I'm using. And I'm going to fold this in half. You can really use whatever size paper you would like. But this is what I like. So you just fold it in half, maybe once or twice, and then put a little tear and tear away from the middle. Maybe go. And then I'm going to take these two, this cardboard. You don't have to do this step if you don't want to. If you're just playing around and painting patterns are painting all kinds of ideas. And a lot of times I won't bother with us for that exact tree. Does you guys? I'm impatient. I just want to get to it and I don't want to do all this, especially if I know I'm going to be doing many of them and I just want to worry about it. But what's nice about this is that it will keep your paper from warping. So instead of watercolor, especially, the paint will make the paper buckle and bend. And this will keep it nice and flat. And since we might be using a large area to pain like all the way from top to bottom, from side to side. This is helpful for that reason. Because we know that this will stay nice and flat. Also when we're painting patterns, if this pattern goes off of the paper and onto the tape. If there's like a full bleed pattern, basically it goes from all the way top to bottom, side to side. Then you're going to have a nice clean edge. When we remove this tape in the end. It's also helpful to have a sheet of paper that you can sort of just jot down ideas on before you start something just to see how something's going to look. If you want to try something, you can try different brushes. You can try to just sort of do it really quick so you can sort of get an idea of like, Okay, that's what I wanna do. For example, I'm just gonna do the dashes. These little horizontal dashes burst. So I am just like, Okay, I'm using this brush and this is what they're going to look like. And then you can sort of just do a practice run and just make sure that yeah, that's I'm going for that's what I'd like to use. 5. Test Patterns: So once again, I'm using watercolor, but you can use whatever you choose to use. So I started sort of in the middle for this one just because if you're not going to do something with this digitally and you're just painting it and that's it. Then you want to make sure that this is pretty centered for the most part. So if you want to be very appropriate, divide it, you would have to map out your lines and rows. But I, but the beauty of this whole technique is that it's very easy and freeing and all that stuff. So what I do is just start in the middle and then I loosely say, okay, then I want to go here next, I want to go here next one, I go here next. And then you do the other side. So just to show you how I do something like that. This one was made just by going like this and like this. Okay. And I don't, I like the varying shades and tones and saturations and all that. So I let it run out on me. And then I'll dip my paintbrush back in the ink. And I will go again. And actually if you don't use watercolor and you're doing some other type of paint. This is actually really nice because you'll get some dry brush strokes in there too. But this is watercolor, so everything's pretty wet. So you're just gonna go like this all the way down. Pretty simple and very meditative, very relaxing. You can do this as slow or as fast as loose or as careful. I mean, I say loose because that's what this is all about. But you can have your way, you wanna do it. So that would be that one. And then the other one, I think I used a I think I used this ten for the dashes. And that was basically I just went like, let me get some more water on that. So I just went goo and I sort of let the paint brush make it shape by just sort of pushing down and coming like lightly coming up. Like so. So just to talk about a few of those, a little bit about those. This one obviously is not centered and I might in, later on in Photoshop Illustrator, whatever I used, I might actually move these rows. I were just to make them a little bit more centered. But I really don't mind if it's a little bit off. I just like it to be a little bit more centered. But I really do want to keep that handmade spontaneous fields, so I'm not going to alter them too much. And then for this one, I just wanted to point out that I meant to go straight here, but then everything sort of started to get a little bit more but swoopy feel. And I sort of exaggerated that a little bit more because I sort of liked how I liked that movement feeling of it. So these are things that you can kind of figure out when you're doing this. Like I think you just roll with it. Like if you mean to do something a certain way, try it a certain different way or if it ends up turning out if ends up being a certain different way, just to embrace that and to go with that. So just while I have this owl, I'm going to show you a couple of different things you could do or patterns you could do. This was a 13 millimeter, 13 millimeter half inch flat brush. So the brushes flat. And this will give me a different path, different textures and shapes. So play with the brushes to like don't just use one type, you can't if you want, but it's fun to use different types. So this is sort of a flat stroke pattern that I like to use a lot. Basically, if you had it all taped out, you can just sort of go like this almost to make a grid shape. So it's really fun because it's very spontaneous and you never know what you're gonna get. And these brushes do give you that really good dry brush situation. But if you don't like it, you can always go back over it. So I would probably move those over digitally, but if you do it, you might want to map it out a little better if that is concerning for you, but I just like to just go with it and then worry about everything else later. So you can see here that's my grand. So this one is a little bit too dry for me, so I'm just gonna go over this one. Okay, So this is my grid. So you can see there's lots of variation with this flat brush and dry strokes and just very spontaneous as what I like about this is it looks cool because it's simply flake grid pattern and it looks like it's planned, but it's really just, you know, you just make some marks and see where you can go next. Okay, this is another pattern with this same flat brush that I think is really cool and I like to do sometimes, which is really just going like this. And you can make it really mean. Or you could. Make them varying, make them smaller and bigger. You could do a lot with this, but this is a cool abstract D stroke pattern to that I like. Ok, for this next pattern, I'm going to use this number four round brush. And for this pattern I'm going to just do it. This is going to be sort of a zigzaggy arrow thing. But instead of this, it's going to be sort of long diagonal lines. And if you need to draw a guide, then you can do that. But I'm just going to freehand and I'm going to do that on the other side too. So if you want to do that way, you can make all of your lines that way and then that way. Or you can do it one at a time. And these can be as perfect and careful as you want, or it could be really loose and easy. And I'm actually not making me, I probably would spend a little bit more time making these more like a neat. But just to show you, I'm just going to just be a little bit more crazy than if I was really filling a whole page with these. Then anyways you can see how this is just a cool shape if you repeat it over and over. So what I would do is I would have this here and I would do another section of him here and it would be even cooler, I think repeated here. This one then this one just like a little repeat pattern of these on a whole page would be really cool like that. Okay, And another fun one I think I will, because I like to draw circles and shapes and stuff like that is some dots. So for this, I'm going to use this number 10 round brush. And I'm gonna get some paints. And this is super simple and easy and just fun in my opinion. So you're just making circles here that just little polka dots, lobbies, whatever you wanted to call them. And this is just like a really nice graphic look to it. And who doesn't love polka dots? I mean, I know I do. And you can make these as perfect or not. But my whole point of this class, as I say again and again, is that the, this should be fun, this should be easy. This should not be something that causes you stress. This should be something that relaxes you. So you can do your varying shades of water. If you have a one, if your watercolor or if you're using water down ink. If you're just using regular pay, they could be really full of paint sometimes and really dry other times. Okay. Yes, So I almost forgot about triangles, but I love triangles. I think there's so q and they're so fun to draw for some reason. I don't know, I just loved geometry. I'm just kind of a geometry nerds. So just fill these in. Well, you don't have to follow them around. You could leave them open if you like that. But they're just really nice graphic, cool shape. And I just like the whole row thinning of M2. I always have, I have a lot of these in a lot of my designs. I have some sort of Play on this type of pattern and shape. And I'm doing this one with a number four round. And I like to have a lot of variation. So something's looking all just kinda of OneNote to me, like everything's looking all the same shade. Then I really try to make a point to switch it up a little bit. Because I think that is kind of one of the things that makes this cool is when everything is a little bit different, you know, because we're just making some marks and some really simple shapes. I mean, that's cool too. I like simple graphic designs and shapes. But I guess what's cool about this particular class and idea that I'm going for here is that it's all very handmade looking. It's all like you can see, this is not perfect. This is all made by a human hand and It's all different. And I think that imperfection and variation and differences and everything makes something interesting, looking like a computer that, and make that, somebody made that and it looks interesting. So I'm going to finish the little dashes here just because we did this whole age of patterns. Why not just finish it out? Okay? 6. Finding Inspiration: Okay, so there you have it. I have some examples of different types of patterns here that I've made. I'm going to go over some different types of pattern examples when I'm actually doing the whole piece. But I wanted to give you an idea that this is not just about what I do when I show you my examples. There's all kinds of different things you could do here. And there are all kinds of different things outside looking at nature when you're out looking at the store, when you're looking around your house, when you're looking around your neighborhood everywhere, there are patterns and shapes. And you can start training your eye and start training your brain as artists to pick out these different patterns and shapes that you are drawn to. And of course there's Pinterest. I mean, how can we forget Pinterest? So yeah, just whatever you're browsing around, just make a collection in your head if you have to write it down, even somewhere, that's helpful too, of what is or even sketching in a sketchbook just what patterns a year are drawn to. What you like as an artist. Is it more geometric? Is it more round? Is it more organic? And then compile that list and then that will give you ideas of things to add to your work. And then also just to do this exercise in this class too, we're going to think about what kinds of different patterns we want to draw them as class. When we're looking at other art or when we're taking inspiration from other art, art, say on Pinterest or Instagram. We want to make sure that we're only taking inspiration from the art and we're not directly copying it. We need to be mindful of making them our own in some way. If we see something we see out there in the Internet landscape and social media, whatever. We want to make sure we're saying, Oh, I'm really inspired by a certain part of that. I am inspired by this little, like this little shape, or I'm inspired by this color or something like that. And then we need to figure out how we can sort of twist that to do our own thing with it. And that's just really important. And of course when you're practicing, it's okay to copy. But we just want to make sure we're not acting like it's our own eye or ideas or we're not selling the work that we make, we are copying. That could just be practice. But when we want to actually make things on our own, we need to take those inspirations step further so that there are our own work and that we can claim them as our own. 7. Exercise One: Okay, So I'm going to start with my horizontal dashes. I am using a number 4 round brush. And this is a very simple just dash mark technique I'm going to be using. So I am just just to see you can see what here. I'm just taking some water, getting my paintbrush when dipping it in a pan. And then I'm gonna go for it. And this is just a really simple, I mean, there's not much to this as you can see. I am just drawing lines. You can do this as controlled or as loose as you want. I'm just sort of just letting my hand flow. And this is so meditative of exercise. I mean, you don't have to think about doing much here. You are just making little tiny strokes. I like to go as you can see until the paint runs out. And then I will grab more pain. And you could make this sort of bigger and some areas and then smaller in some areas. And that's going to have a really nice movement to it. But I am just going to just let it play out. And then if I see any areas where I can do something interesting, I might keep that resume do so. But I don't love this. I'm gonna move this out of the way. So I can have this right in front of me here. Now sometimes they'll actually dipping it in the paint like right here. And sometimes I'm dipping it in the water. This for a little bit of a different effect. And there you have it. So this is so simple, but when it's all put together like this, it just has a really nice visual graphic feel to it. And I, this is what I meant when I said I love the way that watercolor works because Ernie sort of water the media works because you have really saturated dark areas and then you have really light areas too. And it just sort of gives it a different contrasts, a different feeling to the whole piece. It just feels more alive. And it's so since these are so simple, but they just, they have a lot of human movement. In my opinion. It's very varied. It's like how many different marks can one-person week by just doing a little tiny stroke. And then when you put them all together in this unique way, it just looks really nice and simple and minimal on graphic and it just right up my alley. Maybe yours too. 8. Exercise Two: Okay. For this side, I think I'm gonna do a grid pattern. Yeah, I wasn't sure if I want to know what size I wanted to do, but yeah, I think I'm going to stick with the same brush and number 10 and then I'm going to maybe the same but leave a little bit more space. Once again, I do not want this perfect. I'm just going to let this be super organic and easy about this whole thing. But I do want it to be not as Kirby and waste. Okay. And now for the vertical lines, so I'm not sure if I should turn it and do it. But I think I think I'm gonna go with that. I like to have a little bit more paint. This is covering a little bit larger area. Okay. 9. Exercise Three: Okay, this is my last go here. I think I've decided I'm going to do some dots and some rainbows. Let's see. I'm going to do the dot, dot, dots. So yeah, I'm going to take that 12 again. And I'm gonna get some payment and dots or circles. Yeah, I'm actually gonna do circles. So I'm going to start right here. And with this, I think I want to vary up the shape a little bit. So men do a little smaller one. Just to have a little bit of interest. To me. I'm not thinking much about this. I am just going where it feels or aim. For. Some more paint. Really nice to work with this when everything's really wet. So you can see all of these elites that may happen. This is just going to be a pattern piece. So everything's gonna go off the edge. And that's fine. Pattern pieces like this are really forgiving because you do not need to figure out composition. You can just let everything fall off. Even though you're going through the edge, you do want to pay attention to how you're making your circle. You don't want them all to be small or all to be bigger than ever. And paint on your brush every time obviously as we paint, picking out when we run into the other circles. So you can play with that and have fun with that. Okay. 10. Exercise Four: Okay. I did not like what I did here. So we're just switching actually to this three millimeter, 1 eighth inch and it's fresh shape is round. Filbert, I think it's a flat. Okay. And we're gonna make a remote shaped sort of like that. I could figure out here if I would like to offset them and put them in the middle or if I want to keep going straight and I am going to offset them in metal. So I'm going to start with one, right? Yeah. This one. Experimenting. This is all about experimenting. If you don't like something, that's okay. I'm going to continue with that because I think maybe some cool pieces in here and I might be able to use it somehow. Hello. Okay, so yeah, so this is really envisioned, but I still think there's something to be said about those. So my last two pieces, of course, I would cut that off. 11. Review: Okay. So there you have it. We did 12345678 pieces. And they were definitely out of bees, but I didn't love the squirrels and the rainbows definitely. But then the other ones I was really happy with. And I think this mark-making, abstract and black pattern art is really forgiving. And that way there's just a lot you could do with it and it's very simple and fun. Okay, so I did want to show you when I take the feel of or not the field the tape off. I wanted to show you how that would go down. Just want to peel away at the corner. And then just sort of peel off at a diagonal angle away from your painting. That's going to make you have the best not tearing the paper. This is also a pretty satisfying part. And it just looks nice and neat at the end. Especially if you did a painting like a pattern that when all the way to the edge. So there you have it. I'm just gonna do one more. Like this. You can see goes to the side. So it's just nice to have a nice clean painting. Just by appealing. Nice clean on the edge of East. So just going through our final pieces are least the final pieces that I made for this course. Here was our initial experiments. Hopefully this gave you an idea of some things and patterns that she wanted to draw. And then we have our stripes. Our diagonal dashes are arrows. Our convective circles are a little vertical dashes, rainbows. And this grid pattern. 12. Applications: Okay, I wanted to show you how I use some of these in my own work. These are just simple motifs, but I love patterns and simple lines and motifs in my work. So this is just a simple way, the stroke, but repeated and in this color way, but repeated and in this color. It's really just a very simple, beautiful representation of waves. And I kind of was going crazy with this color at the moment. So I also did the same thing here. You can see with this grid pattern, I like to do how I did that here with this. Here are just some simple dots and this was an example of when I taped the outside of my paper and I just went to town really loose and easy with these dots and just the texture of the pain. And these ones are just really lovely and just even on their own, they're very simple. They're really fun patterns. And the fact that they're so an even and so handmade and imperfect. I think this makes them really special. These were all wash. Here. You can see where I have taken those marks and just sort of fit them into a puzzle piece with shapes so they don't have to just be on their own. You know, you can incorporate them in your work and that way. You can also do it over top of other shapes and things that you've painted. And here we have a sort of reference to a pebble collection. And I just wanted to sort our reference different lines and patterns that she would find in different stones and pebbles. So you can see how I've done those here. I also wanted to just give you an idea of how nice something like this looks framed. I just popped it really click into the back of one of the frames that I use for my art. And it's just super simple, but just a really nice minimal painting. Is that something you wanted to do with your painting? And this is an eight by 10 frame and it's added to five by seven. 13. Final Thoughts: Thanks for taking this class. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you'll learn something new and found it valuable in some way. If you share any of your work on social media, please tag me. My social media handle is Pauline Stanley's studio and my website if you'd like to follow me and my work. My website is Pauline My shop website is Pauline Stanley And as I said, my Instagram handle is Pauline Stanley Studio. Also, if you do finish some of your artwork and you would like to post it to the class project. Please do that as well. I'd love to see it if you have any questions, leave them in the discussion and I'll get back to you. And that's it. Thank you so much for taking this class.