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Old 11-16-2019, 01:48 PM
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Horse

I'm not sure if this is the right forum for this. It's 100 % ink but almost entirely applied with a brush except for a small bit of outline on the nose sharpened with a mapping dip pen.



This is only my second attempt with all ink that is not via a modern pen.

What I'm particularly looking for are some ink techniques/tips that would improve future pieces like this. Working with ink is very different from the other mediums I've tried. But any c/c is welcome.
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Old 11-17-2019, 12:17 AM
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Re: Horse

Made a few adjustments this evening to lighten up the background a little.



It has actually come a long way from how it started out. I originally intended it to be a wooden horse that looked almost real from a distance. But then I wanted to see what different effects I could make with the ink.

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Old 11-17-2019, 07:24 AM
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Re: Horse

Lol, I'm not sure of its place here either, but as there really isn't another forum, I'll leave it!
I appreciate you're experimenting with a technique and maybe style .. the main problem I see is one of tonal contrasts .. you're still losing the head against the b/g shape, causing confusion..... and I think a highlight in the eye would also help with balance.

If you view other threads here you'll probably learn a lot about technical aspects - both use of the pen and also adding wash or using brush pens .... and asking questions usually gets responses!

You have some very interesting pieces in your portfolio!
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Old 11-17-2019, 10:54 PM
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Re: Horse

Thank you, Maureen. I have definitely muddled the background. I think I will have to just white wash the b/g shape and redo that area.

I do want to ask a couple technical ink questions...
Aside from straight washes, I've only found that a couple coats of transparent raw Umber over yellow oxide produces the most beautiful rich shade of brown and a gloss finish that neither seem to have when separate.
It's really hard to see in the scan but the following close up camera photo might show what I mean:



This depth of dark colors is unlike any of the other mediums I've tried. A detail of a different piece shows the difference between acrylic and ink.



The guy emerging from the inkwell is shaded with multiple washes of acrylic Burnt Umber but the radiant brown and yellow design on the left is the same ink layers I described above.

My question is: are there other classic formulas for layers that achieve similar radiant properties for other colors? If so, what are they or where can I find them? I've yet to discover results I like using the Prussian blue and pyrrole red I have.

Also, is there a way to know what combinations will achieve a matte or gloss finish? Just to show what I mean, here is a photo of the artwork at an angle showing what parts dried glossy.




These probably seem like silly questions as I could just make samples. But I ask in the hopes of being able to select the right next colors to buy. At the moment I only have five colors.

Thanks for keeping this thread up.
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Old 11-18-2019, 07:51 AM
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Re: Horse

Sorry I can't really help Misty .... I know that with some colours/layers of acrylic inks, a sheen might develop ... as with some Indian ink but it's possibly more to do with ink composition.
I hope someone with more technical expertise might help!
Are manufacturers' webdites any use? ... or maybe contact them!
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Old 11-18-2019, 01:59 PM
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Re: Horse

It's ok. I'm not sure anyone would actually know the answers. I will likely have to contact the manufacturers. But thanks for helping. 🙂

Btw, I began incorporating your suggestions and this is the result so far as it looks from a fair distance by camera.



It's a great improvement. Thank you for your suggestions.
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Old 11-19-2019, 07:20 AM
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Re: Horse

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Old 11-19-2019, 08:26 AM
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Re: Horse

From a purely pen & ink point of view,you tend to put the wash on & then that is it ! - you've got what you've got,no more messing around. Sure a nice coloured ink but you are talking like a painter & have their concerns.
Undoubtedly you will need to use acrylic inks to address these concerns because that is nothing less than dilute paint really.
If you do deside to go with ink consider the surface carefully because different paper gives very different effects.If you are thinking of multiple layers of wash you definitely want to be using a water colour paper & let that have a smooth HP. finish if you intend to use a pen at all.
Excuse me wondering aloud a minute but considering that line work is not your thing & the inherent difficulties involved in pressing the materials of one medium (ink) into replicating the techniques of another medium (paint).
Ummm..... Why bother ? It's different horses for different courses.
That's how I see it anyway.Maybe I've missed something.
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Old 11-19-2019, 10:02 AM
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Re: Horse

Thank you for responding, Mike. I've been using professional Bee paper for drawing because it is both archival and economical but I don't think it is sized like watercolor paper. So I will definitely have to try actual watercolor paper.

The reason I am trying out this medium in this way is because I've been searching for the medium that works with my circumstances, goal and tastes. Until this summer I've always stuck to grayscale oil paintings and traditional graphite pencil drawings. In fact I actually grew bored with those back in 2011 and I stopped making serious art until this last summer when I started woodburning watercolor paper and embellishing it with different mediums. When the weather doesn't work for woodburning (I don't have a studio), I will often draw instead but these days I better like drawing with ink pen or dip pen and embellishing those. However, I don't particularly like the mediums suitable for paper. I find acrylics to feel very sterile with little depth and watercolor too bright. I dislike working with colored pencils and traditional pastels. I do like the organic feel of diluting earth tones of chalk pastels in water and adding a wash of that but there isn't any real depth or radiance to it and there's the issue of permanace. Adding fixative will alter the appearance of the burned portions so I want to avoid that.
So far ink with it's glossing effect and amazing depth is the one media I think will be ideal for these purposes. But if you know of any other that might be better, please do share.
I am limited with a small work area not ideal for working with oils or other materials that require excellent ventilation and a separate cleaning up area from normal living space. Since there is almost no storage area here, I need the mediums to be fast drying and the piece to take up little space but that can still be matted and framed to produce a quality end product as needed.
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Old 11-19-2019, 03:25 PM
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Re: Horse

Ok, I've had a look at some of your work in the links.
Although you are casting a broad net at the moment ,it gives me more idea of where you are coming from.
Can I start with a word of warning ! it isn't widely known widely known but when burning designs into wood or paper is not permanent ! It seems like a crazy thing to say I know but they aren't ! I used this as a technique for a year about 30 ish years ago - before I learned the hard way that it was not permanent. When I found out I couldn't believe it. Some clocks I had made with elaborate designs burnt into them were Fading ,even disappearing in parts . It was pre internet days but after thinking & research it turns out that real charcoal is as you may already know made by burning wood in conditions that totally exclude oxygen. That leaves you with a very pure product that is little more than pure carbon, all of the sap, moisture & other impurities are gone. It is now stable & very long lasting , where as when just burning wood or paper a very unstable chemical concoction is the result. The lighter the tone of the shading the quicker you will notice it's total instability to light. Having said that after 3 years a house name sign burned in a full 1/4" deep was reduced to unreadable on a gatepost that got full sun ! So we are not talking about subtle changes here.
However you can't believe some stranger on the net of course so experiment in the same manner as you do when testing inks.Get a piece of your paper that you use to burn on, about postcard size & burn into that some lines (along the length)of differing shades but try to keep the shade constant along any one line. Now fold it in half so that one side of the burned line is on the out side & the other covered - out of the light. When spring comes tape that to a sunny window , one side of the fold in full exposure to light the other receiving no light. As your gauge know that fountain pen inks which are well known to fade & die ,no claim of lightfastness has ever been made for them by anyone will show various degrees of fading in three months. Some will hardly be visible at all & the best of the others will look faded.If you put a pen declared as permanent (& it really is !) it will show no difference between the half that was exposed to the sun & the folded side that was not.

Anyway the horse studies were not enough to get an idea -You certainly ARE interested in line ! & plenty interested in tone too. Might you not find some expression in pen & wash ? it seems the ideal medium for your style where you don't use colour & you would surely find it more controllable than wood burning.
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Old 11-19-2019, 11:00 PM
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Re: Horse

Thank you, Mike, for the advice. It is much appreciated. I think it's certain that such works will definitely need to be behind uv resistant glass and kept out of direct sunlight. I'm sorry to hear some of your works faded.

When I first started to seriously consider woodburning my research brought me to an internet gallery of historical pokerworks on wood. One artist named Robert Ball Hughes made amazingly good ones considering it was done with a hot fire poker back then. Many of his pieces still exist today 150 + years later but I imagine they've not sat in direct sunlight either.

Longevity was actually my first concern about it. There's no info about the endurance of paper burnings but I did find a couple parallels. First was the issue of modern watercolor paintings losing their pigment over time juxtaposed with watercolor paintings made in the early 1800s that have endured. I also stumbled across the John Constable oil paintings done on paper approx. 200 years ago that amazingly still exist. I think the fact that pulp paper didn't become common until after these works were made played a huge part in their endurance. Wood and pulp products seem to be a harsh support for art and combined with the radiation of sunlight the artwork gets degraded from both sides. That's why I use cotton paper that's acid free, lignin free, etc. for burnings of sellable quality. Of course, only time will really tell but I try to give the work the best chance that's possible. And then I think of the oil paintings made on cardboard in the early 1900s sitting in museums today and the discovery of Picasso having used common house paint in some paintings and I'm left scratching my head.

The whole reason I bought a dip pen and inks in the first place was actually because I stumbled upon the sketches of Rembrandt and found them inspiring. I still intend to use it for that as well.

I've also been considering learning Asian ink painting techniques because while working on this horse I found that I had to make use of some unusual brushwork in order to make it work. The ink dries so quickly you have to accomplish as much as possible as quickly as possible. Most other mediums are more forgiving but meeting the challenge was half the fun.

Aside from the resulting glossiness of the ink combos enhancing the painting, I found the chemical reaction fascinating after having read about how the Renaissance and medieval era pigments often reacted to each other and the artists back then had to have a working knowledge of what the results would be. Modern pigments are stable and don't have that feature so I find it very interesting to have a medium that does interact at times.
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Old 11-20-2019, 08:14 AM
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Re: Horse

Glossy ink number 1 by far is India ink - there's no doubt about that it really is enamel like !
It uses shellac as it's fixative which is what gives it this property.Alas black is by far the most common colour available. But all is not lost because high quality shellac is often used in cookery ,especially for glazing cakes & icing etc. you can get it cheaply & is widely available.I've made various ink mixes with it for years.
The reason it is used in india ink is not really for the visably shiny surface it has but because it dries 100% water proof thus allowing line drawings done with it to take washes to be placed on top of it with out disturbing the line work.
Perhaps interestingly for your purposes ? - the most subtle & delicate washes can be made with india ink , let one dry & become fully waterproof & put another on top as much as you wish - so many layers of glazes may be built up.A single thin wash has little or no gloss apparent but add a few layers & it does start to build. Of course I am talking about using commercially available inks here if you get into making your own you can adjust the glossy appearance & pigment balance to your exact requirements.
Most folk nowadays will have turned off minutes ago with all this mess on ! If they can't take the cap of a plastic disposable pen & get on with it -then they aren't interested while others (maybe even an experimental artist ? ) might find it worth their while.
By the way Picassos' common house paint was made of pigments mixed with linseed oil plus a bit of turps, all such paint was until the mid 1970s - so no mystery there !
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Old 11-21-2019, 11:41 AM
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Re: Horse

It sounds like adding shellac might be the golden ticket at the moment. I looked it up and read it is usually dissolved in ethyl alcohol but I can't find if that would make an ink not archival. I imagine it would probably evaporate but surely it must affect the paper somehow.
Making ink would be fascinating but will have to wait until I can get to the nearest store that sells pure pigments which is about 90 miles away. Since I don't know anything about pigments I'd prefer to purchase in person from a salesperson who could answer any questions. No one at the local big chain stores seem to know anything about art supplies but I do tend to ask the hard questions and they don't sell pigments anyway.
I wasted about five hours last night trying to mix the ideal brown. The one used in Rembrandt's drawing Dutch Farmhouse in Light and Shadow. The color looks like varying shades of rust to me but I can't get a brown that will dilute first to reddish then more to yellowish. Perhaps that is better accomplished with an ingredient that oxidizes?

Well, that explains about Picasso's house paint. Though, it doesn't seem like linseed oil paint would hold up for domestic uses like the old milk paints did.
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Old 11-21-2019, 04:40 PM
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Re: Horse

Hi MM , best keep your money in your pocket until you have the info you need ! It is very hard to track down as it is either hidden in obscure corners of the internet or dispersed widely in fragments here & there , if it is even there at all ! Talking to a pigment "sales person" might well end up with them selling you some pigments without any specialist knowledge of using the pigments specifically for ink making - that's very rare for good reason.
Here's a run down though some of the hurdles in this ink making challenge - you may choose not even to take the challenge on ,OR approach the task in a different manner!
1.Yes shellac is dissolved in ethyl alcohol ,that is freely available on Amazon or ebay etc. Don't worry your work with this ink will still be 100% fully archival as long as your pigments are of course.
2.After you have dissolved the shellac into the ethyl alcohol you will want to add water to it & get it to the correct viscosity, THIS MUST BE DISTILLED WATER otherwise the chemicals that municipal authorities add to clean it OR just the air pollution in it will separate the pigment from the shellac making a useless gunge ! If you live a bit out of town & traffic you can capture rain water ,put it though a coffee filter & use that ,but hell the distilled is widely available & cheap anyway. This distilled water rule applies to any & all shellac based inks commercial or home made.
3. Now the hard part Pigments used in ink & paint are from exactly the same basic source BUT the pigment in any ink has to be ground up VERY much more finely so that it can hold it's suspension in the aqueous mix. You can very occasionally find an extremely specialist supplier BUT even if you find such a supplier the pigments ground at this very small size in their dry powdered form can be very hazardous to your heath , both the risk of inhaling them & the toxicity plus the the fire risk should they become air born, certainly a professional vented closed cabinet is essential.
So as you can see this is not really a viable option even for keen experimental artists like us !
Much better is to buy a ready made pack of coloured commercial shellac inks.Search "coloured shellac ink" or blue ... or yellow... & definitely "coloured India ink" & "coloured encre du chine" I know A few english suppliers but that might be expensive. Another problem is that many of these use a modern permanent dye to colour their inks, whilst they may be extremely vibrant they might not suit you,obviously you can mix inks from the same manufacturer in an attempt to get your perfect colour & maybe ?(it just depends) from different manufacturers.Difficult anyway though because there aren't that many colours available in any commercial range.
Ah ! you like Rembrandt (me too!) & his inks, I have studied him & his materials extensively. .Well he certainly didn't use any shellac in his ink !
For years & years it was supposed that he used "Bistre" pigment (Burned beech nut soot") , still I read that all over the net but when the museum in Amsterdam used the non destructive but totally conclusive spectrometer analysis hundreds of years of a "best guess/assumption" by non artist academics was turned on it's head !
He in fact used Iron gall ink, a gall is a growth formed on an oak tree which is made in response to an attack by a certain wasp. (You can buy these !)
Add some rusty nails to vinegar & let them soak some time then add your galls & let it soak for a while longer. There you go ! you have the ink of the early christian church ,though Michelangelo , Leonardo,Raphael etc. Hold on a minute ! lots of them used black ink I here you say.
Well yes, Iron gall ink is often a very dark brown but it depends on the proportions of the ingredients in the mix as to the final colour. PLUS the drawings we are looking at today have had centuries of oxidization , however the mixes were all individually made & many of Rembrandts fellow artists of the same time used the same type of ink & it is still very dark brown. He chose to do it that way ! You can still buy made up iron gall ink but it will be very dark brown/black.Funny thing is it is very acidic & not so called archival ,despite the evidence !
Cheers Mike
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Old 11-22-2019, 02:14 PM
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Re: Horse

Hi Mike,
Thanks for the insight. It sounds like ink making won't be an option until I have a proper studio. I went to several stores yesterday but the only shellac locally available is the premixed wood finish that has a highly flammable warning. I'm thinking that wouldn't be a good idea to put on paper.
But the Iron Gall Ink sounds promising. It must be the iron/rust oxidizing that gives those tints and the gall for the brown base? I wonder if there's anything local that might work for a brown base as well. Or perhaps the liquid from soaking rusty nails in vinegar could be added to commercial brown ink? I could always order some galls if not.
It's perplexing that ink which has last four centuries isn't considered archival. Perhaps the papers were prepared with a ground that protected it?
I think I'll have to try it anyway.
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