Pen and Ink

Ink is applied with either a ‘pen’ or ‘brush’ and is very unforgiving. The word pen really means an implement that applies the ink to the paper. This can be in the form of modern-day pens, feathers (quills) sticks and twigs, anything goes. The word brush not only means soft or hard brushes but can also mean cloth, bubble wrap, leaves, soft paper, fingers, or cotton wool. Try anything that that applies ink to paper in a manner that is soft and covers a large area. You can experiment with lots of different things.

Ink is unforgiving, so for the faint hearted and those who are just starting, a pencil sketch is good to begin with. This can be used as a base for the ink. This way you can erase any mistakes in your drawing before you start to use the ink.

Ink is a very old medium. Ink sticks were invented more than 2000 years ago and were used in various viscosities. The black liquid was used in various forms and was always diluted with water. These days you can get the modern-day equivalent of fantastic coloured inks which can be mixed with each other. Some inks are water fast and others dissolve with water.

Ordinary black fountain pen ink makes unusual colours all on it’s own. It’s not water fast. When used with water the colour is obviously diluted and it becomes lighter. When dried and re-wet it sometimes produces yellow or purple tints and sometimes turquoise tinges, depending on the manufacturer.

Indian ink is very different, it is water fast and when it’s dry, it’s dry and cannot be re-wet.

Holding the pen, just like a paint brush or pencil, tends to create precision and control. Holding the pen further back, you have less control over what you do and this tends to give a looser effect. Always have lots of clean water to dilute the ink with and clean your brushes well after use. Plenty of paper towel to mop up excess water and lots of scrap paper to test the density before you apply it to your drawing.  Most inks are intermixable with each other and can be used like water colour.

Try out different kinds of papers. The heavier and rougher the paper the more course your finished piece will be. In general, smooth thick paper should be used. Remember, just like a fountain pen, nibs must only be pulled and not pushed, pushing causes splattering.

There are many ready made pens of different types and thicknesses to try out.  It is always handy and fun to have a selection to choose from and try out. Some pens are water fast and some are water soluble. They all make their own special marks.

Spray bottles of water make unusual effects. These are useful for making splats and drops and also for wetting large areas if needed. Pure alcohol and a baby buds can also be useful tools for special effects. Don’t forget the more water you add the lighter your ink wash will be.

Try ink out, I recommend it, it’s fun and you will learn a lot from it. 
Perhaps you would like to join the annual challenge Inktober!

Jean Elliot