Buying inks can be deceptive. On many art supply websites the similar bottles all come under the banner of ‘ink’ and some are actual Indian ink, but others are acrylic ink, and others diluted watercolour. In addition there is calligraphic and fountain pen ink. So easy to get confused and misled.
My first dip into inks (sorry, unintended) was a multipack of Windsor & Newton’s. Excellent and reliable, if only the bottles lasted longer. Well, I say that – I bought a Black, a Violet and a Crimson in the mid-1990’s at art college and I still had half a bottle of crimson left when I began this lark back in April. My very first attempts were via squeezed contents of old fountain pen refill cartridges (yes, my fingers were black for a week) combined with the 15 year-old crimson, which in 2019 I discovered had ‘matured’ to a vibrant neon pink.
BRANDS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE
Other brands and products I have used since are Daler Rowney Acrylic Ink, Dr Ph Martin’s Bombay India Ink, Chinese Black Calligraphy Ink (from the Manuscript Pen Company), and Ecoline Liquid Water Colour, as well as a cheap Liquid Watercolour I found in high street shop Tiger (Flying Tiger), which not only was surprisingly vivid – though in limited colours – the black also produces exciting effects and blue-edged tints when it runs into the other inks. Since it appears to be discontinued I’m using it sparingly – ironic seeing as it’s the cheapest one I’ve so far found! I’m thinking of trying a bottle of Parker Quink or other fountain ink and see if I get a similar result. [continued]
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...