Tools: Grey Inks for Grisaille

Grisaille (/ɡrˈz/ or /ɡrˈzl/; French: gris [ɡʁizaj] ‘grey’) is a term for a painting executed entirely in shades of grey or of another neutral greyish colour… A grisaille may be executed for its own sake, [or] as underpainting … working in grisaille was often chosen as being quicker and cheaper, although the effect was sometimes deliberately chosen for aesthetic reasons. Grisaille paintings resemble the drawings, normally in monochrome, that artists from the Renaissance on were trained to produce.”   WIKIPEDIA

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Examples of grisaille underpainting above.
In all these paintings watercolors were eventually applied over the grey ink.

w16-12-grey-ink-1For grisaille I want a neutral grey that is truly waterproof.  To date there has been only
one that I really liked, and that is Noodler’s Lexington Grey.
*btw, i’ve sent you to the large size with the inkdropper + free pen*

All that has changed!  (My tests above.)

w16-12-grey-ink-2A friend from Europe has been painting with this yummy grey.
Super5 is my favorite brand, and the grey is Super5 Frankfurt ink.
Understand that is is selling on Amazon right now as a BROWN — NOT!
*those of you in Europe and AU can buy Super5 easily, not so in the states*
Update: You can also get it at Blue Rooster!
It has a superfine granulation (as opposed to Lexington, above it) and
is a gorgeous warm grey.  Unlike Lexington (and Noodler’s waterproof inks in general)
it does not bleed at all on any paper I’ve tried it on, whereas, as you can see from the waterwash over the pen ink marks, the Lex will bleed slightly on many papers.
The Lexington Grey bleed is not enough to stop me from using it MOST times,
but I always test it at the back of any new journal.

UPDATE: Now I paint a lot with many inks and like the effect of both!

W15 7 14 PEN INKS 003I’ve come a long way from an earlier article on favorite inks especially in terms of how I use them.  Now I paint with them like crazy, and buy sample sizes from Goulet on a regular basis.  Because I love De Atramentis inks I want to comment about their
Document Fog Grey ink, above.  It is simply too blue to be called a grey.
Look at it compared to their Document Blue.

w16-12-grey-ink-3I have a confession to make.  I love buying ink samples from Goulet, but lately I’ve bought the same three over and over (duh!) exploring non-waterproof gorgeous grey inks.
These are the three I’ve purchased in tiny ink samples.
I doubt I will buy them full size.
The Diamine inks, while pretty, are not interesting enough considering they are not waterproof.  And I can mix Pilot tone with Super5 Frankfurt and Australia mixed…

UPDATE: I bought the Diamine Grey… I love it and play with it as
I now paint with many inks, not just waterproof inks.  Sketchbook only though,
as only two inks I know of are tested for lightfastness, De Atramentis and Super5.

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©D. Katie Powell.
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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: Grey Inks for Grisaille

  1. I do grisaille work all the time, both as underpainting and in monochrome pieces, and I now exclusively use Noodler’s Lexington Grey. It sometimes breaks down a little into a pale blue but is otherwise a really trustworthy true grey. I like that I can dilute it even to 50/50 and it remains permanent and waterproof.


  2. Catherine Uffen says:

    Trying to think through grisaille in watercolour. I underpaint ALL the time. But wasnt familiar iwth this Old Master’s technique. I also use a monotone to build up layers and shapes and values — If I use Gray or brown or greenish gray underpainting in watercolour — so it won’t be waterproof. Is it necessary for it so be waterproof. What are the advantages? waterproofing a layer means that the next layers won’t be absorbed well into the paper and will rub or lift off more easily. not sure


  3. Pingback: Inktober 15, Chicken Curry with Great Northern Beans | D.Katie Powell Art

  4. Pingback: Rona2: VSW Minerve France, 1 | D.Katie Powell Art

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