During the past several months of painting in what I thought were inks, I’ve come to realise they might not be the same sort of ink, or even inks, at all.
Does it matter? In my case, no, because what I do is experimental. The papers, tools and inks are pretty much irrelevant, it’s the process that matters more than the equipment, which is how I prefer it.
However, I found it absolutely does matter when I have my work on show and curious artists ask me about my bold colours, the medium I use and my technique. In my naivety I suppose I didn’t think anyone would be that interested so I wasn’t pre-prepared with definitive answers to give, especially where inks are concerned.
SO WHY INK?
My ink experimentation is contrary to my past painting attempts. Originally using gouache and watercolour at school, I progressed onto acrylic paint in my twenties, attracted to their shiny boldness and the fact they were quick-drying. Nothing worse for me than getting out of creative flow waiting for paint to dry. This isn't purely down to impatience – I bore easily and move on to the next project quickly. You will not be surprised to hear I’ve never tried using oils...
Using wet-on-wet technique I have to work quickly before the water dries on the paper. During the summer months outside, this was a particular issue. The meditative method, however, involves forcing myself to slow down; of relaxing into it and ‘breathing’ into the strokes rather than hammering rapid marks out and rushing. I have to be more patient, which is good for me. I think by using different media, the balance in timing and the application grows more well-considered with practice.
GETTING BACK IN TOUCH
My own venture started out as a need to reconnect with painting and drawing after years sat at a computer. I had grown too used to the day job in being a graphic designer and I'd resigned myself to using a mouse as my hand tool, but I was struggling to feel fulfilled, even in producing digital vector art for myself rather than clients. These days I’m reaching eagerly for random brushes and tools in the moment. I do tend to choose certain sized brushes and palette tools at regular stages in my paintings, and this is something I am consciously trying to discourage; I’m attempting to break ‘habits’ whenever I sense I reach any defined style. It’s all about striving for creative freedom. I have used twigs and stones from the garden, and my fingers when need be, anything I can use to drag or direct the ink and blend it with water.
This is my honest attempt at true creating, at becoming closer to ancestors that didn’t have paintbrushes or neat bottles of liquid colour. This is me reacting to the deeper conscious and ‘tribal self’ – the curious child within.
In this mindset I lose expectations and judgement, I just paint for the sheer pleasure of seeing ink spread and form whatever shape it chooses, similar to allowing form to appear in my meditative visualisations. In allowing and practicing this I can let go of control and find joy and surprise in the process. With no expectations and no limits.