Painting with ink – Part 2

I’ve already written a post about using ink in watercolour painting, or instead of watercolours here. Since then I have bought a few new beautiful bottles and want to show them as well. (Click on images to enlarge them).

J.Herbin Vert Empire (green):


I almost never use green in my works, but I had to have one in case I need it or to mix it with another colour.

Here is how it looks on the paper:


J.Herbin Bouton D’or (yellow):


I haven’t used this one too much, I don’t even know why, considering recently I conquered my fear of yellow colour and enjoy it 🙂 But here it is together with J. Herbin Vert Empire:


J. Herbin Rouille D’Ancre:


I have diffculty describing this colour. It’s kind of pink. “Skin-like” pink. This is a very calm colour. I like using it, combining with other colours, like CARAN d’ACHE Sunset or CARAN d’ACHE Grand Canyon.


And finally, the most exciting one – CARAN d’ACHE Grand Canyon:


What can be so exciting about brown ink? Well, I noticed that it separates into different colours, either contacting with water or other ink. I think, it’s due to water. Using this ink, one may get some unexpected results, but they make me very happy. To demonstrate what I mean:


At the painting above I used only two colours: CARAN d’ACHE Sunset and CARAN d’ACHE Grand Canyon. If you look attentively, you will see blue, violet, yellow, green etc. I didn’t plan for them to appear in the painting, and especially I didn’t plan them to appear exactly in the places they’ve emerged, but they are so beautiful and definitely add something to this portrait! Most often “side-effect” is green colour as on the paintings below. In these works I used ink of different colours and watercolour paints.


Below you may also see yellow spots from J.Herbin Bouton D’or:

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In the paintings below I used CARAN d’ACHE Grand Canyon, J. Herbin Rouille D’Ancre and J.Herbin Orange Indien:




And a few more examples. CARAN d’ACHE Sunset and CARAN d’ACHE Grand Canyon must have become my favourite couple – I like using them together. when applied intensely, they give a very interesting velvety feeling.


Ink and salt

In the painting above I used salt. You may read more about using salt in watercolour painting here.



If you have any good ink on your mind that you could recommend, please, don’t hesitate to do so 🙂


17 thoughts on “Painting with ink – Part 2

  1. Pingback: Using ink in watercolour painting – Part 1 | Liliya Datsyuk

  2. Hello! I just discovered your site (I was making researches about differences between Arches and Fabriano)! Have you heard about the “Rohrer & Klingner Zeichentusche” inks? Colors are very beautiful, mixable and waterproof (I was looking few months ago for a range of colored ink which are also waterproof). But the Gold and Silver are disappointing compared to Winsor & Newton’s ones.

    • Hello! No, I haven’t heard aboout them, but now I will know 🙂 Unlike watercolour paints, I buy ink usually when I come across it, and usually it seems, there isn’t too big choice here. But I’ll keep in mind. Concerning Gold and Silver ones – I am buying these kind of things but I never know how to actually use them. I recently bought some Schmincke pigments (bronze and one of their golds) for watercolour. They are beautiful, but I am still thinking where to use them -)

  3. Yes, Gold and Silver are tricky to use: you have to shake or stir a lot just before putting a brush in it, and then it’s like using black in a watercolor painting, not that easy to know where to use!
    But what I love with them is that once you apply them on the paper, you see the “gold” or “silver” particles moving!
    That’s something very precious, as we as painters are the only ones to see this “phenomenon”: the viewers will only see a finished and still painting, but we see the painting “taking life”! That’s why I love watercolour (we can see it shining under the light before it’s dry) and Gold/Silver inks!

    • That’s all right to the point. You are reading my mind 🙂 “shining under the light”, “moving particles” – yesss. Magic of all these things is not just a final result but process itself!

      • Yes! I don’t often hear people talking about the process other than from an “industrial/technical” point of view (“you use this tool for this, this machinery for that”), or when someone from a creative field talks about it, he just says something like “well, I find inspiration from people on the street”…

        (Have you read “Fashion Now” (published by Taschen)? It’s a collection of interviews of fashion designers in the form of a serie of questions, one being “Which is more important in your work: the process or the product?” Few answers are very interesting, but not all designers answered to it…)

        Another point of interest of the process for me, is that you feel your heart beating as you don’t know if each brush stroke you make is good, bad, necessary, unnecessary, and so on… But when it’s over, if you like the “product”, then you know afterwards that every moves you made where “right” and that you were in a “state of grace” during the process! All of this is even kind of amplified in watercolour, as there are factors we can’t control totally (while working wet-on-wet by example)!

        Concerning the Schmincke Gold and Bronze you mentionned, is it one of this? (Yes, I’m from France!) I never heard of them before!

    • I also don’t hear people talking about process, but maybe because I don’t have anyone in real life who is painting (with watercolour 🙂 ). I sometimes try to tell my friends what an exciting experience it is, but somehow I feel they don’t really get what I can be excited about by sitting a few hours in a same position. Well, theoretically they get it, I think.

      I also tried to paint with oils before. But as soon as I tried watercolour, couldn’t leave it. And yes, it’s because the process is so much more exciting, though you can get marvellous results from any medium. But for me process is most important. And watercolour (plus ink) give this satisfactory feeling.

      The fact of unexpected accidents, which often are even better than you could consciously create. I even sometimes feel that just someone is using my hands to create something. I regularly get not very successful results, but even if I have to throw them away, there could have been some pleasure I received during process of ruining this piece of paper. Even simply observing how colours mix and blend on paper, bleed in each other, transform. It’s like a little magic I can observe anytime I want. All this can be amplified by a beautiful result of course.

      On the other hand, with experience we learn to control some of the accidents and even create them consciously, but still we can’t predict how exactly they will develop. Excitement on top of excitement-))

      I haven’t read “Fashion now” but if it’s worth reading, I’ll note it.

      Concerning pigmetns, yes, these ones in your link. By the way it’s another magic in a jar. I don’t even need to use them, just opening a jar, moving it and observing how these particles move around. Making my mood better immediately. So, even I don’t get to use them, still happy to have them-)) And I like schincke in general, their watercolour paints are very good as well.

      • Haha! I, too, don’t know a lot of people “in real life” painting with watercolour!

        I read interviews of artists or creative peoples whenever I bump into one (that’s why I bought the book aforementioned!), but rarely see them talking about the sort of “divine connection” one can feel while practising art (you speak about feeling sometimes that someone moves your hand, I speak from “state of grace”)… So I’m very happy, even if that’s not “in real life” :p, that you created this blog not with the aim to showcase your paintings, but to talk about the process the way you do. It’s sometimes difficult to put words on things, not because we don’t have the vocabulary, but because we don’t have enough introspection and understanding of ourselves, so you’re doing really great!

        I was myself considering doing a blog few months ago, and had some ideas…
        There’s a chance you heard about agnes-cecile, an italian watercolourist (among others); less chance that you heard about Ohgushi, a japanese fashion illustrator: they have recorded lots of speed painting sessions for the first and live paintings for the second (I hesitate to put links to websites, as I already did once earlier, and I’m now feeling embarassed to be like an advertiser…). I believe that with better works on camera angles, light, and so on, we could record and show some magic of watercolours. Like when we see in documentaries the sun rising and then setting, we could show the colours shining, flowing, drying in a cinematographic, evocative, aesthetic manner!

        Something comes across my mind: have you heard about the “Yupo” watercolour paper? It’s an hydrophobic paper, which I never tried, but I suppose it’s like putting watercolour on glass to a certain extent… Watercolours movements on this paper must be quite the show! But it’s very difficult to find, “even” here in Paris (I know only one fine-arts store who sell them).

        Your description of the Schmincke “jars” gave me a few ideas: you could paint a hourglass with the particles taking the role of the sand! Or make your own hourglass with them, or put them in a little translucid recipient you could always have in your pocket…

    • Thanks, I’m glad someone finds it helpful. I don’t write too often here because I don’t have a purpose to fill it with my paintings (there is already place where I upload them, no need to do it here as well). I wanted to have more useful information here.

      A while ago I went across agnes-cecile’s paintings, and really enjoyed them. I haven’t heard of Ohgushi though. But I checked now and works are really beautiful. I don’t mind having useful links here, no problem, I’m not obscessed -)

      Well, if you have technical possibility and desire to make such videos, that would be great I think, I enjoy watching videos where I can see how other people paint. Most useful way of learning that I’ve discovered so far. If you do that, let me know, please, I’d like to see the results!

      I’ve heard about Yupo, but never had a chance to try it though. I guess it will be a different feeling to paint on it.

      Thanks for the idea for my pigments. Maybe I can really find something transperent, small and lockabke, that I can even hang on my neck. Would be fun!

      • Why haven’t I thought about it! A girl friend of me has a “vial necklace” (search for this type of items)!
        For the vidéos, I don’t know anything about softwares, so when I’ll do it, it will be “contemplative” I think (no montage of plans and séquences)… But when you try to work around a limitation or a difficulty, you sometimes come up with interesting ideas, and I won’t spoil what I have in mind! It will be more about the “magic” than my painting technique.
        I agree that watching vidéos is very helpful, it’s way more practical than a good step-by-step tutorial because there are so many détails (timing, way to move the brush,…) a few words could not describe. when I’ll be back home I’ll put the link to one such vidéo! (I’m in Estonia now, and just bought some russian watercolours!)

      • Oh, thanks so much, now I know the name of that necklace. So, I can try to find it 🙂 Will be waiting for the link you mentioned. Enjoy Estonia and your new paints!

      • Hello! It’s been a while!
        Here are three videos, the third was the most interesting to me, especially concerning the work on the paper humidity level in order to remove pigments and brighten specific areas (I think the word in english for the technique (removing watercolours after applied but while wet, instead of keeping some areas watercolourless) is “lifting”? In France, we say literally “opening a white”!). The second video shows mastery of the wet technique, while the first is an example of the dry technique.

        And I haven’t watched all videos of each of the artists here…
        (And still “working” on my “short movies”…)

  4. @cpv: thanks for sharing! I somehow can’t reply to your comment which is a reply to my comment. Hope you will see it here. I liked most the second one. When I try to do something like in the third video, I usually fail and get a very muddy result-( It’s important to wait there until painting totally dries, otherwise one may get unexpected (and unpleasant) accidents. As a result I usually work in one layer… Will be wiaiting for your ‘short movies’!

    • I had the same problem when replying to your reply, the “reply” button only appeared under the first comment of the group, so I tried my luck when I posted the videos and it worked. That’s strange to see that sometimes the button doesn’t appear after the last reply…

      Concerning the wait for the surface to be completely dry, I know some watercolourists have a hair dryer next to them while painting! On the opposite, and it’s only a guess, in some videos of agnes-cecile, we can see a device on the table that is diffusing smoke or fresh air? If it’s smoke, then it was just cosmetic, but if it’s fresh air, then one could use such device, or a humidifier maybe, to slow the drying instead of accelerating it. I’ll ask her, one day…
      It makes me think about something: have you tried using other liquids with watercolour? Talking about “ambient air” made me think about temperature, and some stories I read about painting watercolour in open-air under 0°C and using alcohol instead of water! Then I remembered there was an article you made about salt (I read in another website that the effect (size of the “snowflakes”…) depended on the variety of salt you use): I drop alcohol sometimes, it “repulses” water and the watercolours in it locally, where the droplets fall.

      Yes, the difficulty when painting with ink (vs watercolour) is that it’s sometime tricky, by looking at it we think it’s already dry: it’s so concentrated that we can’t see it shining under the light…
      But I talked one day about the Rohrer & Klingner Zeichentusche: it dries very fast (I don’t work for them)!

      • Hey! Sorry for such a delayed response!

        I’m also using hairdrier if i’m impatient, or I really need some place to dry faster, but some other to be still wet, so that I can get the necessary effect. But i’m trying to use only cold air, I’m afraid that hot one may play bad tricks.

        I haven’t seen what was she using but I would assume it was smth like steam to keep the surface wet for longer period of time.

        I usually use salt, I tried alcohol, but maybe it wasn’t concentrated enough, so I didn’t get any good effect. I’m also using just water, spreying it on “almost dry” paint. it also give some kind of snowflake effect, but maybe softer than salt. You can see examples here:

      • Hello!
        I wanted to answer a month ago: I talked about making videos about watercolours and other liquid-based paintings, and planned to start during christmas, so I planned giving you a reply at the same time (didn’t want to say again “I have some ideas of videos, you’ll see them soon!”)…
        But “you know how it is” (figure of speech, as I hope you actually don’t know “how it is”!): you have an idea, but keep reporting it to tomorrow…
        (Oh and this blog is yours, so don’t worry if you answer late! The “blame” is on me 😉 !)

        Now… As of today, I finally started, modestly of course, trying to put in motions things people don’t see when they look at a finished painting. It’s a learning process, as I have no experience with video cameras and my equipment is not professional, but trying to turn around technical limitations will be funny (the fact that I can’t control the focus of the camera, while I want to do something close to the paper, to see the light reflections, by example)… But working with artifical light is not funny…

        My first video, and the next ones I think, is about this learning process: I’m trying to see how close I can get to my subject, experimenting the limits of my video camera in term of image quality (don’t go full screen!) and so on. There’s no video editing, no sound, it’s raw and very cold… I’m working step-by-step so there won’t be “tutorials” let say “for the moment”!

        And happy new year!

  5. @cpv: Thanks for sharing, it’s interesting to see these movements there. I’m sure as you learn your camera better you can get most of it. Of course natural good light will be better and easier to work with, if you have a chance to take videos at daylight. Hope to see more of these, good luck!

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