I Wonder What Would Happen…

I am having fun today playing around with ink. There’s no purpose to what I’m doing, no rhyme or reason about it, and that’s exactly why it’s so much fun. Surprisingly, I’m learning to love ink, or at least to love the possibilities it offers.

My fascination with ink is linked, of course, to my interest in Chinese brush art. I got the book I ordered — Chinese Brush Painting: A Hands-on Introduction to the Traditional Art — and I have my rice paper ready and waiting. It will be a while, though, before I’m able to use it. First, following along with the instructions from the book, I’ll be practicing with newsprint paper and black tempera paint, both of which I’ll need to buy.

Of course, there’s a part of me that’s just itching to get out those brushes and try painting… something…anything. I’ve resisted that temptation by getting out other brushes and other ink — both India ink and my homemade berry ink — and just playing around.

For some inexplicable reason, there’s something about ink that makes me go, “Hmmmm… I wonder what would happen if…”

What would happen if I just dribbled a bit of my berry ink and a bit of India ink on a wet sheet of watercolor paper? Oh, I had lovely visions of what might happen, but it didn’t happen at all. It just turned into a puddle of gray.

No problem. I wiped it away and wondered what would happen if I just put a drop of India ink in the center of the page. I found an old medicine dropper, and created a lovely dark spot of ink, and I knew at once it could only be the center of a flower. So, I doodled a flower with a small brush using washes of gray and pink.

Doodling with Ink - 9-15-2019 (3)

Next I wondered how it might look if I added a long, graceful, curving stem. It didn’t look good, but I still loved the flower, so after the ink dried, I thought, “Hmmm, I wonder what would happen if I just took scissors and cut the flower out.” I did, and so now I have this beautiful ink-painted flower. No idea what I’ll do with it, but I love looking at it.

Next I tore a sheet from my sketchbook — one with 80-lb. paper — and wondered what would happen if I just painted a simple little landscape with ink. I liked the result…until I wondered how it would look if I tried defining a few things with a Sharpie. Nope, that wasn’t successful. I only tried that on one side of the scene, though, so I still had another side I liked. Once it dried, I scanned it and cropped it. I’m happy with it.

Ink Wash Landscape 9-15 (3)
Ink Wash Landscape

I went back to my watercolor paper for the next experiment. I wondered what would happen if I took a big brush and covered the sheet with an ink wash. The brush left lots of lovely streaks, and I began to see a forest lurking there.

I used another small brush dipped directly in ink to draw the trunks of the trees I imagined in those streaks, and from there I started adding in branches. I wondered what would happen if I just used the big brush to add a few leaves, and then I wondered how those leafy boughs would look if I pressed a tissue to them. And what would happen if I added just a few more ghost-like trunks in the distance?

Ink Forest 9-15
Ink Forest

And what would happen if I tried using ink on a canvas panel? I can’t give you the answer to that one yet because that little what if is still in progress. At this point not much has happened, but I’ll just keep looking at it, glancing over toward my ink and brushes and wondering what else I could do.

I know I want to try playing with different colors of ink. I want to try combining ink washes and dip pens — although that sounds like it could be disastrous. I want to try a lot of things. I think it would be fun to play with ink and wax, or ink and watercolor, or ink and charcoal. I wonder what would happen if I mixed ink with pastels? Or with powdered graphite?

Oh, so many possibilities, so many ideas.

NOTE: It’s Monday morning now. I’ve taken my “ink forest” wash/painting, found a frame for it, along with a mat. It’s now ready to hang. I wish you could see the colors, but neither my scanner nor my camera is really picking up the pale blue of my “mixed berry” ink. I was’t able to get a good picture of it. It really does look nice, so now the thing I’m wondering is “Where shall I hang this?”

It was fun to play around yesterday, and it feels really good to have come away from my playtime with something to put on my wall.


    1. I really had fun playing around yesterday, and I want to do a lot more. There are just so many different ways to use ink! I have blueberries in the refrigerator, so I’m going to make blueberry ink, plus I want to buy other colors, too. And, of course, I’m going to start learning sumi-e, so my big problem right now is trying to find time for all the art projects I want to do!


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