Inky Fingers - Jan Thomson

How To, Ink, Jan Thomson, Paper, Water Colour Paint -

Inky Fingers - Jan Thomson

Art Supplies have sent me some Art Spectrum acrylic inks to play with. And I do mean play. 

Acrylic inks are unlike any other medium I’ve tried. Firstly – they are very vibrant pigments, and they remain this way when dry. So, for someone who is used to working with watercolour or acrylic I need to keep this firmly in mind, or I’ll end up with a psychedelic painting!

I chose delicious summer watermelon slices for my subject – ideal for bright colours!

I decided to try the inks on both watercolour paper (Fabriano Artistico Rough) and Yupo - which is a polypropylene sheet, sometimes used for printing but also great to paint watercolour on. I knew that the inks would behave quite differently on each.

  • Wear an apron and latex gloves if you’re messy, wash your hands and brushes often.
  • Beginning with the wc paper- I decided to work wet on wet so that the ink would move around but I left the rind area dry so that the ink wouldn’t travel there. You need to use a damp brush, and I found it was easiest to put a few drops into a plastic palette, though you can just touch your clean brush to the top of the bottle, or, if you were feeling VERY brave you could squeeze the ink straight onto the paper.

The ink immediately moved around the wet area and I could pull it out with my damp brush to other parts- as with watercolour, if you add more water the colour becomes lighter. You can also lift off with a tissue while it’s wet.

While it’s wet you can drop in other colours and let it mix, or, if you want a flat colour you can mix on the palette. When dry it still has that lovely luminosity of wc, because the inks are transparent. I can see that you could easily add these over the top of a watercolour painting to add more vibrancy – flower subjects spring to mind here.

  • Yupo – this could get messy! Because Yupo is a non-absorbent, opaque surface the ink can only move if you wet the surface first. So, I wet most areas and then just began dropping ink on with a brush. Brushmarks show on Yupo, so it’s best to use a bigger brush and plenty of liquid.
  • One important thing that I learned- usually with yupo you can wipe back to white- you can’t with inks which are staining and permanent. So, you need to leave any white areas dry so the ink won’t move there, or they are lost forever!
  • You can, of course, also use these inks with a pen or fine brush to add linework to a painting.

Looking at these two exercises I can see that, for me, the inks on Yupo will be my choice – I can hardly wait to try some more subjects.