Blank Surfaces for Ink Drawing

In my studio I have 4 blank surfaces that have been sitting there for several months. The surfaces are very large pieces of watercolor paper stretched onto painting stretchers about 36″ x 60″. I had originally intended on making larger versions of the walnut ink drawings for the waiting series, but when I sat down to work on the first one, I encountered major technical problems. My technique with the walnut ink is extremely wet and requires a lot of puddling of heavy ink on the surface of the paper. The issue was that the watercolor paper I was using was too thin, and the result was that it started buckling all over the place the second I started piling in the ink on. The paper would get so wrinkled that I couldn’t control where the ink flowed, and it flowed all over where I didn’t want it to.

I started thinking the other day though, that these stretched paper surfaces might actually work very well for the dry brush paintings I wanted to make for the new Wading Series. The advantage is that because I will use black acrylic paint with a dry brush, there’s no danger of the paper buckling since the paper will stay dry. This also works well because I didn’t want to invest the time to make them into black oil paintings. In this way, I get to work with a stretched surface without the inconvenience of taking up large amounts of time to stretch canvasses. There’s also something quite beautiful about the way paper looks stretched on a canvas. At the same time I can work on a very large scale, still use paper and be able to present the work easily because it’s on painting stretchers. Drawings are always tough like that when they’re so large, as matts and glass don’t make a lot of sense on that scale, and I’ve never really been impressed by drawings that are mounted directly on the wall.

An initial test with the walnut ink on thinner watercolor paper. The severe buckling of the paper is apparent in this photograph with the shadows falling all over the paper.

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