Ink Drawing: Grey Washes and Rice Paper

I did a quick experiment today to see if the grey tones with the Chinese ink were worth pursuing. I had tried an experiment a few days ago that didn’t work very well because I didn’t wait long enough for the straight black ink to dry. The consequence was that when I applied the grey tones to the drawing the water in the grey tones activated the black ink and resulted in a lot of bleeding of the ink in places where I really didn’t want it.

This time around I picked an older drawing which I was certain was dry all the way through, so the bleeding was no longer an issue. My first impression from the grey tones is that I think I probably won’t end up using them. One technical aspect of the process of the grey tones is that the rice paper is so absorbent that when you apply the grey tone you can’t see right away exactly what the tone is until it’s 100% dry. So until that happens, it tends to just look like you splashed plain water on it. It’s a little difficult to describe, but it distracted me while I was working because I couldn’t respond to what the final result would look like as I worked. When the drawings with grey tones finally did dry all the way, the results weren’t what I was looking for. If I do want to work with grey tones I think that the more appropriate material would be the India Ink, where the tones are much easier to control and where they behave in a more predictable way.

I had purchased 2 sheets of rice paper from Utrecht a little while ago. I think in the end I was slightly disappointed with the results with these 2 sheets of paper; the black ink didn’t seem as rich or as deep, and I think because the papers were much thicker and I was frustrated with myself that I couldn’t loosen up enough on the larger scale. I’m going to have to do many more sketches on a large scale to get myself comfortable with that. The very large brush that I have still feels quite awkward to me, and I still feel a little too much out of control when I hold it.

Ink Study on Rice Paper

The drawings individually don’t take me that long to make. There is a kind of do-or-die kind of element to this process, in that once the brush makes physical contact with the rice paper there really is no going back. I think that aspect of the process makes me freeze up occasionally and I have to train myself to get over it. Part of the issue is that I haven’t painted for a few days so I felt a little out of shape when I went to work on those drawings today. The strategy that makes the most sense for me to is force myself to make so many drawings that through the process of making so many I’m able to lose those inhibitions. Then when I’m done, I’ll have a large pile of drawings that I can sift through and select the best ones from. Therefore, I have to put myself in a place when I just continually produce and then evaluate later.


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