Tag: iron gall ink

Inktober 2019: #5 Build

Today’s post #5 for Inktober 2019 – Build – is a lot easier than yesterday’s was, for whatever reason.  In keeping with my promise to myself, this was drawn with homemade iron gall ink.  I created different shades with diluting the ink with water, letting it dry, and then adding more ink to layer it into darker shades.  It seems to work pretty well.  I also used two different pen nibs for the line work – in iron gall with a dip pen – along with an old paint brush I am willing to sacrifice as iron gall is a higlhy corrosive ink over time.

And, if you operate this critter, please excuse my inaccuracies!

Inktober 2019: #3 Bait

Today’s prompt for Inktober 2019 is “bait” – bait?!  Jail bait.  Cut bait.  Click bait. Take the bait.  Switch and bait.  Crow bait.  All kinds of bait.

I went for the obvious:  a fish lure and a mouse trap.

I also decided that I would use my homemade iron gall ink that I made earlier this year.  Iron gall ink is present in manuscripts, old letters, and the sketchbooks of yore.  It’s something I haven’t done yet, and thought it could be a fun (and very messy) project for the month of Inktober.

So, a fish lure.  I didn’t decide on the iron gall ink until last minute, so the initial drawing was done with a fountain pen and the washes done with the iron gall, sometimes directly applied, other times diluted.  I am using a throwaway brush because iron gall corrodes things, such as pen nibs, so it will most likely do a number on the brush.

A mouse trap with a really generous bit of cheese – and probably an unrealistic amount at that!

So, baited we are.

Old Pine at Whalers’ Cove

Every now and again a place calls you, and you know that your life is changed by what you have seen and heard and smelled – a total sensory experience that nothing will ever equal.  Returning to it may destroy the memory or add to it.  Here, I think returning to the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve will only add to the experience.

We headed out to have a short 3-night vacation up in Monterey, California.  We visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium, probably for our 4th time, as well as Point Lobos for the very first time.  It is unparalleled.  Tall pines, rugged coast, water, rocks and cliffs, pines and cypress, and history all combine to create a world into which it would be so easy to stay immersed in, never to return.  The area of Monterey is stunning, with many beautiful and historical areas to be explored, such as Carmel, the city of Monterey itself, Pacific Grove.  An abundance of parks and preserves are available to all.

I brought my art supplies with me, but couldn’t sit still.  I had to keep exploring, along trails with rocks and roots and staircases, and easy paths lined with views of trees and meadows and plants not found in my neck of SoCal.  In particular, the pines and cypress caught my attention, but so did the rocks and water and cliffs.  I expect there will be a lot to draw from as I took a lot of pictures, most taken with care to composition and color.

Here is an old pine tree standing against the sky.  It’s dying as it’s old, wooden branches attest, and yet it still bears needles and reaches to the sky.  I fall in love with trees such as this – if they could just tell their tales!  I used my home made iron gall ink with a very fine pen nib on Bee watercolor paper.

Garden Sketches

Mad Hatter chili and Young Lemon Grass Leaves on Rhodia Tablet

I’ve been rather busy of late – running here and there, sewing, hanging out with friends, and so on.  As a result, I have not been able to sit down to paint for the past few days.  Today I made the determined effort to do so, and am glad I did.  Instead of working in the studio, I went outside onto my rather warm and sunny patio – 95F / 35C – and moved what I could into the shade of the canopy.  A small table, a chair, some water and paints, my home made iron gall ink and my dip pen all accompanied me.  Pandora and Donna Summer, too!

I pulled out a watercolor sketchbook, and immediately found that the paper has a sizing issue, as well as cannot handle water in any amount.  Wah!  However, for pen and a small amount of color, it will do.  I also used a Rhodia tablet, very smooth and polished, and works very well with a sharp pen nib.  The results are straight above – and captioned!  It worked out quite nicely.

Watercolor sketchbook. Iron gall ink applied first, then watercolor paint. Milkweed in bloom.The watercolor sketchbook, as I said, was disappointing for wet work.  However, for ink and color, it is not too bad.  Here, I did the ink drawing first and then applied the color.  The color rather overwhelmed the lines at time, so I went back and added more ink after the paint dried.  In 95F weather, it dries pretty quickly.

A flowerpot with a dead sunflower (left), oregano in bloom (middle), and the stalk and leaves of milkweed plant. Color applied first, dried, and then iron gall ink drawing.This last picture was an afterthought.  The first drawing found the color overwhelming the ink at times, so I decided to paint first, and then draw.  Artistic experiment!

Anyway, the art bug has been temporarily allayed.  More tomorrow I hope!

Kingfisher (Drawn with Iron Gall Ink)

This morning I did a quick sketch of a kingfisher using iron gall ink using a dip pen.  As you can see, there is a bit better variability in lines than when drawing is done with a quill pen (see yesterday’s post).  Both have qualities I really like – expressiveness, boldness, delicacy.  As I am used to using fountain pens, a dip pen is no problem once I learned how to control the amount of ink on nib.  What must be remembered is how to load the nib, and as nibs are all different, a bit of testing on scratch paper helps.

At present, I am deciding if I want to colorize this drawing – which is why for now, it is not!  If I do, I want to use very dilute but vibrant colors.  It is my hope that the ink will shine through the paint without my having to re-ink parts of it.

Sketching with Iron Gall Ink and Watercolor

Long before we had metal dip pens, artists drew with reed pens and with quills cut from the pinion feathers of a swan, turkey, or goose.  If you look at the ink sketches of artists such as Rembrandt or DaVinci, you will see some very common characteristics.  The ink lines vary in width – narrow, wide.  Often the ink is brown, and so those not in the know think that brown ink was a thing way back when.  In reality, it is the degradation of iron gall ink (aka oak gall ink) through time.  When initially laid down, it was black.  With time, it turns brown, and with a lot of time and depending on its degree of acidity, the iron gall ink can destroy the paper and drawing.

Over the past week, I have been playing with iron gall ink and a quill pen I cut from a turkey feather.  I have some homemade iron gall ink nearly done – come Thursday, it will be ostensibly ready to use.  Today, because I am finally at a point where I have time to play, I drew with iron gall ink and my quill, and then applied watercolors.  The ink took its sweet time drying, and I didn’t blow dry it, but let it air dry or blotted it to see what would happen.  As it is a damp day, it took awhile.  Anyway, the following three pictures were first done with the ink, dried, and then painted in with watercolor.  If you look at the pen strokes, you will see variations.  I’ve never drawn with a quill before, so it was a new experience, one quite different than with a dip pen or fountain pen.

Kumquats – Ink
Kumquats – Ink and Watercolor

The kumquats were the very first drawings I did with the quill and ink.  I had to really think about textures.  You see, when you use iron gall ink, it begins as a light grey, but as it is exposed to the air, it becomes darker and darker until it is black.  This made values a challenge!

Bamboo Forest – Ink
Bamboo Forest – Ink and Watercolor

Here, the ink in the picture was not quite dry, and some bled into the watercolors as I lay them down.

Market Melons – Ink
Market Melons – Ink and Watercolor

For the melons, the ink was taking forever to dry!  I decided to see what would happen if I blotted the ink.  The result was smudges, which you can see throughout the picture.

Fruit – Watercolor
Fruit – Watercolor and Ink

This final set was done with a sketchy watercolor.  No thought was really given to composition or to color as I wanted to use the ink to express outlines, shapes, and shadows.

Altogether, this was a lot of fun, and for me there is a potential I hadn’t really thought about in getting a sense of history by using historical tools – quills, iron gall ink – that were once the best technology had to offer.  I wonder what Rembrandt and DaVinci would think about paints in a tube, rather than the task of purchasing, grinding, and creating their own paints . . . perhaps they made their own quills and inks, too.

The Art of the Written Word

This past week or so has found me wandering into another element of water-based media:  Ink.

Ink is used in drawing, but it is also used in writing, whether using the Roman alphabet, Cyrillic, Arabic, Hebrew, Chinese, Japanese, or any other form of an alphabet for any one of the myriad of languages found throughout the world.

Making ink is an art, and that means knowing something of chemistry (no matter how simple) and permanency.  Ink is black and ink is colored – as are paints.  This past week has found me suddenly distracted by the making of iron gall ink, also known as oak gall ink, and cutting quills from feathers.  You can read about my adventures here, here and here for starters.  You can return to Ink, Yarn, and Beer for more updates, too, if you want.

Consequently, I have not had much time to paint or draw as I have been spending a lot of time reading about ink and quills in particular, as well as watching videos on the same.  This morning, I came across one which rather blew me away as it is global in nature, but local in artistry.  Huh – what does that mean?  Take 30 minutes of time to be quiet and to watch . . .

Tulips (Iron Gall Ink Sketch)

We had a leak in the house, and the result was scurrying around doing everything else but find time to even think or go to work.  Finally, the leak was contained yesterday.  Towels and such could be put away.  Now we wait for insurance and contractors!

And finally, I can get back to drawing and painting.  This morning, more tulips, done with iron gall ink, prior to applying some paint.  Here ya go!

Tulips

Done with daffodils, and moving on to other spring bulbs!  While we don’t have the snow to enjoy melt as the flowers emerge, we still enjoy their seasonal appearance.

Tulips were always my winter favorites, along with hyacinths.  We never had daffs or narcissus.  So, homage to a childhood favorite, the first tulips of the season.

I tried to make an orange using Quinacridone Gold and Alizarin Crimson.  Not sure how well it worked.  The ink is iron gall in a Hand Book.