So far this week I’ve focussed mainly on monotone or duotone ink work, as I tend to prefer my ink work that way and rarely add bright colours. Today though that changes but first, just like watercolour, you can mix ink with all manner of things to produce different effects. If you have an oil based ink, used often in printmaking as oil and water don’t like to mix even water itself can produce numerous effects. So to begin, below are six experiments I tried using water, salt, flow improver, silicon oil and alcohol, hence the title.
Starting then with water, the example above was as I washed out a couple of very soft brushes after all my experiments – one of them was a makeup brush I picked up for 20p in a charity shop. Just as when using watercolour paints you can add ink to water at different stages, the main difference being that inks are much stronger pigments so you only need one drop of it to make a whole range of Grey’s from Indian ink depending on the amount of water you’re add it to. Inks are not that cheap so my adding ink to water rather than the other way round it makes it go much further, literally one drop at a time.
You’re can also apply any ink you mix with water to your work on dry or wet surfaces and those surfaces don’t need to be paper or canvas in the case of some inks nor indeed do they need to be wet with water. I found that I got through 25 loose sheets of watercolour paper alone just to experiment with ink so far this week, aside from using watercolour pads and cartridge paper in sketch pads too. Just as with watercolour, lot of liquid on any paper will weaken it so if planning on lots of wet work it’s as well to stretch your paper beforehand.
To stretch paper soak it quickly under a tap, lay it on a smooth flat surface and tape it down using gum strip which you also have to wet to get it to stick. Let it dry first then begin your work. Another technique aside from ink washes in common with watercolour is the use of salt. Salt will soak up water to produce a speckled almost starry night sky effect which you can brush off easily when dry.
Flow improver does what it’s name suggests to help alcohol inks in particular go a bit further, and silicon oil does the same as alcohol but you get much more alcohol for your money than you do with silicon oil so guess what I’ll try with acrylic pour next time! Which leads me neatly into alcohol and alcohol inks themselves on the next page.