Abstract with India Ink

Today’s watercolor experiment:

The idea today was to use the permanence and indelibility of india ink as a background for watercolor washes and latex masking.  I thought that the ultramarine blue ink that I used yesterday was waterproof until I added clear water in preparation for a glaze. However, the blue ink dissolved in water.

I used an eye dropper to splat some india ink on my paper and shook the paper to get the following pattern:

Watercolor: Abstract - India Ink

Stage 1 – India Ink Abstract

The resulting ink patterns reminded me of pictures of neurons I have seen in neuroanatomy books. What a great background this would make for a variegated wash, perhaps blending blue to yellow to red.

I wanted a change from the opera rose palette I have been using for the past couple of days. I opted for cerulean blue deep (M. Graham) and English yellow (Utrecht). I did have some leftover opera rose, which would make a nice glaze.

I used masking fluid prior to the first wash of cerulean blue. After the first wash dried, I removed the mask, applied another pattern of masking fluid and washed with my remaining opera rose.

Here is my final abstract with india ink:

Watercolor: Abstract with India Ink

Abstract with India Ink
12″x16″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Paper


I was hugely disappointed that the india ink ran. I thought I could count on it to keep the abstract pattern that I made when I first set it down. The colors blended well, but I should have made the top portion of paper much darker. Opera rose did not do much for the composition, although I like how it merged with the cerulean.  Finally, the two applications of masking fluid added a bit too much complexity in the mid portion of the study.

In my next experiment, I will try to simplify.


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