Last week I did a demo of Matisse Inks at The Art Scene. They have two hour lunch time demonstrations throughout the winter months and I sometimes do one of them for Matisse Derivan.
The Matisse inks are in new bottles with a heavy stable bottom and a dropper attached to the lid. In view of this I was asked to use the inks in my demo, and shortly before I went to Bali, I spent a week or so experimenting with various techniques.
I found this technique in Maxine Masterfield’s book, In Harmony with Nature: Painting Techniques for the New Age and adapted it a little bit to my own ways. It is really easy. Anyone can do it. I also used another technique of hers, which is working on top of darks with white ink. You can see some wonderful examples of this technique in Painting the Spirit of Nature. I use a ‘post office pen’. They are a bit scratchy, and give a bit of a shaky line. I like that, because it shows the hand of the artist much more truly than a gel pen, for example.
I posted the ‘Guilin Landscape’ a little while ago, and this one is the same technique. If I want a landscape I use blues and greens, then perhaps a little bit of the complement, maybe orange or burnt sienna to give some nice greys. Other colours can give you anything your imagination can create from an ink blot. As you see this one is “Fantasy Fish”. I have one that is like a totem of animals, dogs and bears. Another is like a crazy bird with ruffled pantaloons, and yet another can easily turn into a Balinese mask. These have yet to have the pen work done. I even have one that doesn’t need anything done. It is called ‘Lotus Lake’.
This is the process. I am working on watercolour paper, about A3 size. I fold it down the middle lengthwise and press the fold with a bone folder. Then I drop a few drops of various colours of ink along the fold. I don’t necessarily do a lot at first, because I can always have a look and add more. Then I close the fold, and roll over it with a soft brayer, rolling away from the fold. If I am doing a landscape I work at right angles to the fold, but if not, I can roll at an angle or in a curve. Then I see what I’ve got and add more ink as necessary.
At this point, before the ink is dry, I can also use some of the other techniques I demonstrated. The fish has only a little spray of water as it as starting to dry, and that gives a bit of texture. But you can also use vinegar, dishwashing liquid, salt, urea, gladwrap, waxed paper. More sample pieces from the demo coming soon.