Large Ink Painting Experiment

80x148cm thick paper.
I wanted to test out some ideas in ink and on a big scale before anything else. Working in ink allowed me to consider ideas without the added question of colour palette. These ideas were:
– Thinner brush marks for higher up areas of the painting
– How would this new structure shape on a big scale?
– Layering of varying transparency marks. Something I haven’t dealt with in oil paints.

I found the process quite new to me, and there was a lot of reworking and trail and error. As I said in my sketchbook, my approach to this painting was tentative. But fun. Since I have never worked with ink to produce a painting that could potentially stand in its own right as a work. It is the most painterly ink work I have ever attempted.

The paper I used is thick, I can’t remember the gsm… but it is also highly absorbent which means it’s not great for re-working marks. As soon as I put ink down it leaves a permanent mark in the paper. This affected the way I worked, since the whole idea of re-soaking and re-wetting the paper repeatedly didn’t work too well. I changed my method of working, doing thin layers and waiting for them to dry before layering more. This was an interesting process which has the potential to produce some good effects.

What works

White drips down the painting. They elongate the length of the painting and build height (in the same way that that chain hanging from the church in Poland exasperated the height of the building.
The clumps of thick white paint on the right are nice, they add body to the surface of the painting, and hold so much movement. They look like they are falling in mid air.

The position the viewer is in under the structure. This angle works so well!! As a viewer I really feel as if I am inside a structure looking up at it. The angles and perspective of the structure was estimated, feeling for what looks right. Next time it would be worth drawing the structure with three-point-perspective.

Small brushstrokes at the top of the ceiling. This works well to create the illusion of height! The brushstrokes are receding up into the distance. Yay.

Darker lines of the structure being more defined at the bottom of the painting, where the structure is ‘closer’ to the viewer in terms of imagined height. I tried adding dark lines to the top of the painting near the roof, to pick out details But this doesn’t work because the top of the structure is further away and so the features should be vague-er.

The size of the paper. I can test out ideas on a similar scale to the canvases I will paint soon, this makes sense.

What doesn’t

Washed down blocks of white to fill in the walls of the structure. I did this so hesitantly – the white fades to nothingness and I didn’t figure out where the white should begin or end. I think there’s potential for washed down walls to be added to the structures, but it needs to be done with more thought put into how the structure would sit with walls. A sculpture would help me think about this.

Overworking the piece. This creates two problems:
The piece is very dark and grey. Adding more and more layers of ink greys out the whole painting. And I didn’t want to block opaque white blocks in because the interesting transparency and attempted depth of the painting would be covered. Working in ink requires a different.
Good brush marks kept being flattened in space and muddied. This was down to me using a very trial and error process. Adding any white on top of nice marks made the painting flat again. Drips especially remind the eye that the paper is flat and so remove any illusion of depth that the semi-transparent ink marks could make.

Having the structure lines and brush marks in the same medium. It just doesn’t work! Bleh. Doesn’t get me excited, is frustrating. But still served a purpose.

Painting the brush marks in the studio, instead as I normally do, painting them outside in the woods. These marks need to be made outside where I am basing the marks on what I am experiencing! Back in the studio I was looking at photos of old paintings of mine, looking at those brush marks, but it was quite uninspired and felt pointless. The whole point of these expressive marks became obsolete. It confirms that these brush marks must be painted en plein air. I haven’t tried ink painting en plein air though? Hmm.


What I have done with this experiment, is take the ink drawings that I have been doing and turn that kind of work into a painting.
I think I stand by the fact that these ink tests are very useful for working through structure designs and form, but this medium is not useful for whole paintings.
The next ink painting, which I have already started, I have now realised needs to focus on the structure. These abstract ink marks can’t be the centre of the piece because they become pointless when they haven’t been made in the context of a woodland. I might use washed out shapes in my next ink painting, but let that be it.
What I am taking from this experiment is:
– White washing and throwing paint at the paper works well for if I want to paint amazing, atmospheric paintings of the structures!!! This could really go somewhere I think – just ink paintings of the structures imagined with dramatic atmosphere through paint OOOOOO.
– The perspective and shape of this structure really works! Next time do it with more accuracy and make a sculpture.


Another ink drawing. Pairing things back. Focusing on the structure and the atmosphere that can be created when painting the structure with ink.

I want to refine the structure shape in this ink painting to make a sculpture of it.

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