Tools: Painting with Ink, Disasters

I’ve been experimenting painting with inks, waterproof inks as underlayers with watercolors (below left) and all sorts of inks on entire pieces of art with no watercolors below right). In these cases I was playing it pretty safe, and using the inks lightly.

W15 11 VSW ANGRA DO HEROISMA 034 DTLW15 11 VSW ANGRA DO HEROISMA 036 DTL INKRecently, though, I’ve really
pushed the boundaries,
becoming bolder and layering on more and more ink and
watercolor.  I thought I was
getting the hang of it, then had DISASTERS. The first were small, like what I thought was a leaky pen
(which it was leaking), above,
then my trusty Platinum Carbon pen saved the feathering to
make it readable when the
ink in my Pilot Parallel pen feathered horribly, right!

I thought it might be that I created a grey-green-brown color using
two different ink brands. Then when I popped the grey on top, I thought it might have pushed the undertones around, and FEATHERED.  This happened with the
dark grey in the church arches, above.  Maybe, but now I don’t think so.

Then I had a real disaster.  I don’t like it and want it to stop.

I decided to see what happens when I saturate a page using all the same inks,
letting them dry in between.  Above, the inks behaving nicely, not feathering,
and they are Noodler’s, Super5, and De Atramentis Document ink.
The detail on the right has watercolor added.

W15 11 VSW ANGRA DO HEROISMA 064 ARGHAnd here is the real disaster. 

You can see the nice grey field, left, and then I used the Pilot Parallel pen with De Atramentis Document Brown ink.  COMPLETELY DRY PAGE.  And it feathered into a blob.  I first tried adding water to move it out before it dried.  It already stained.  I let it dry then used Noodler’s Polar Brown in a Preppie to try to disguise it as best I could.


It was fine with the Preppie, but the Pilot may have put down much more ink.

Hard to believe it is the Moleskin . . . But what else?  Then, I did the unthinkable.

I have always been someone who just got in and did this  or that.
There was the time I decided to mix my own acrylic colors and found a bunch
of unusual ground pigments.  Thinking that this might end up being quite like
Golden’s Hematite, I bright them back to the RV (I was on a retreat, painting, with two cats and two dogs) and mixed them in baby jars with screw lids.  I went to bed thinking this was going to be so cool to experiment with the next morning.
Fortunately everyone was in the back sleeping on the bed with me.
The combinations I used caused an expansive chemical reaction and literally
unscrewed the tops then burst all over the side of the RV.
(This did wonders for our resale value.)

So it was a huge admission of I-don’t-know to go onto Goulet’s site and listen to Brian’s videos on Fountain Pens 101 (a cool series) trying to find the answer.  And I think I did.
It IS the Moleskin paper, quite possibly, and it is not that the paper is bad, it is that the paper is thick and absorbent and not intended for fountain pen ink (starts at :53 seconds, below).  Why did some perform better than others?  Formulas, I think.  Some formulas tolerated what I was doing, and some didn’t.  Unfortunately I haven’t written down what did and didn’t, so I must try the inks out in a test on a back page of the Moleskin.

When I write about my experiments, I will do a whole post.
In the meantime, I think a good rule to start is to only mix the same brands.
I might also say that in future, I will mix pure colors in a small vial and watch them for
24 hours to see if they react to each other before I add water to make a wash.

I think I need to learn a bit more about my materials,
and not always experiment on a page I kinda like . . .
Listening to the FP 101 series today, and thanking Goulet Pens.

If the video won’t load go here.


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About dkatiepowellart

hollywood baby turned beach gurl turned steel&glass city gurl turned cowgurl turned herb gurl turned green city gurl. . . artist writer photographer. . . cat lover but misses our big dogs, gone to heaven. . . buddhist and interested in the study of spiritual traditions. . . foodie, organic, lover of all things mik, partner in conservation business mpfconservation, consummate blogger, making a dream happen, insomniac who is either reading buddhist teachings or not-so-bloody mysteries or autobio journal thangs early in the morning when i can't sleep
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6 Responses to Tools: Painting with Ink, Disasters

  1. OMG, I am sorry – but this made me laugh – the explosion, “what it to stop” – you’re so funny!!! But seriously, I feel your frustration. Hmmm. I am not much help on any of these snafus. I trust you will work them out and find your way. That’s the fun anyway, and you may develop some kind of cool technique. Who knows? I remember a while back Barry Comer wrote about a Moleskin journal gone bad – his paints were reacting totally wonky and he couldn’t figure out why. Turns out the sizing on the Moleskin pages had gone bad!! Look that up – Google the issue of sizing going bad on watercolor paper – and you will maybe get some tips. I dunno.


  2. Dan Antion says:

    I learned a lot here (in addition to the fact that you are a gifted artist and writer).and that’s what experiments are for. Documenting your experience, even if it is in the journal you like, is part of the learning process. In several classes when I was a chemistry major, we had to keep our lab notes in a bound notebook so the instructor could review our mistakes as well as our success. How we choose to move from error to discovery is important. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.


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