Working Out a Problem

Today’s watercolor experiment:

I have been having a lot of trouble with india ink. It is supposed to be waterproof when dry, but it disperses when I cover a spot of it, with water. Here are the ink spots that I painted yesterday:

Watercolor: Stage 1 - India Ink Abstract

Stage 1 – India Ink Spots

Taking care:

I may have poured a little too much ink out of the bottle. Some of the ink did not soak into the paper, but dried on top of itself like embossed printing. However, I let it dry overnight just to be safe.

I also made certain that I did not flood the entire paper with water. I pre-wet the perimeter of the ink blots with water and touched the watercolor paints in with a round brush, a much smaller one than I have been using. Whenever I touched a part of the ink that was not soaked into the paper, it started to disperse.

I thought quite a while about the colors with which I would surround the spiky blots. I wanted the colors immediately surrounding the ink blots to be complementary. I chose lemon yellow and ultramarine pink for this. The ultramarine pink was a little lighter than expected. In between these two fields of colors I began by placing cadmium red light. It was too bright, so I toned it down with carmine red.

Watercolor: Abstract - Ink and Watercolor

Ink Spots and Watercolor Abstract
12″x16″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


The spiky ink blots remind me of arachnid body forms – probably undersea arachnoids. I used drips of water and some salt to make small watercolor blooms in the watercolor fields. In the area below the ink blot on the right, the mottled area reminds me of octopus skin. I don’t know where that came from… perhaps the underwater motif.

I’m not completely satisfied with this composition. Maybe it is the discomfort of working differently than previous compositions with washes and frisket (Opera Rose Fantasy, Abstract Sunset, Self Inspiration).

Oh, my problem? I’m pretty sure that I should not let the india ink pile up on itself; in other words, I should use it sparingly and if not, make sure it all soaks into the paper.

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