Ink Drawing: Brush and Wash Techniques

Study 4

I worked on more ink drawings in the studio today, continuing on the same vein that I’ve been exploring over the past week or so. The one change I did experiment with in terms of my technique was introducing more wash-like strokes into the images, so that the brushwork was not exclusively limited to the stark black strokes that I’ve been using so much in the past. This actually happened accidentally in an earlier ink drawing, and it got me thinking that this might be a technique that I employ deliberately into the work.

I focused on trying to make individual strokes more wash-like. The technique is a simple one; I have to begin by soaking the brush in water, allowing it to be damp and wet. The tip of the brush is dipped into the black ink, so that the bottom half of the brush is drenched in black ink and the upper portion is still wet with water. If I paint withe brush on it’s side, I’m able to get both the black ink at the tip and the wash on the upper part of the brush at the same time, creating a stroke that is essentially half black and half wash. Because the brush is damp, both portions bleed beautifully into each other creating a soft, gradual transition.

Study 5

I’m thinking that this technique of doing half and half may be the compromise between straight black ink and grey wash that I’ve been looking for. A little while back I was deliberately separated each stroke so that strokes were either entirely grey or entirely black. I was excited at first, but I think eventually that wore off and I knew that I had to pursue other methods. I like this new technique better because the strokes are able to stand on their own, rather than blending and merging with others around them. I think separation of the strokes is important for me to retain the kind of structure and layering effects that I’m trying to create.

One aspect of some of the ink drawings that has been bothering me recently is that I think some of the more brushy, textured strokes look too much like hair in the drawings, so I’m trying to get strokes that are a little more graphic and have more of a specific shape. Simultaneously, this technique works well because it gives the black ink another layer of depth with the hidden grey tones that I like.

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