Ink and Watercolor Wash: Western Tanager

Western Tanager
Western Tanager

My ink and watercolor exercises continue.  I made this artist trading card for a partner who liked birds.  I’ve not drawn very many birds, but I’m starting to really enjoy it.

Don’t Know What You’re Doing? Do It Anyway!


graphite and drawing inks

Yesterday I sat down to draw and I got out these bottles of ink I had been ignoring ever since I had brought them home. I have been using Copic brush markers for months doing simulated washes on my art cards and drawings. I liked using these markers because I felt a sense of control. The markers were clean and sharp. I knew exactly how the color would lay down. I didn’t have to worry about drips or spatters. I could get the look of washes without having to deal with random effects. It felt comfortable. But it was too comfortable.

So I found some brushes, probably the wrong ones, put some inks on a palette, and then stared at the blank page of my sketchbook. Where to start? I didn’t know what I was doing. So I just decided to not worry about it. I gave myself the permission to create the biggest mess I wanted to. I laid down a bunch of blue ink, primarily because I found it a soothing color. I liked the way it looked on the page. Hmmm. What next.

I grabbed a pencil and did some sketching. That soothed me a bit more, so I just grabbed the brushes and went at it. I mentally shrieked a few times when I splattered ink here and there. But I just pushed on until I realized that I didn’t have to push anymore. I was just I was having fun. Some of the washes I did were so thin that they barely registered on the page, but that was fine because each stroke of the brush freed me a little more. I used Windsor & Newton India Black India ink and Nut Brown ink, occasionally mixing them.

So you see the result. Not a masterpiece, but I like looking at it. When I look through my sketchbook I’ll see the date written on the picture and say to myself, “That was the day I got over myself about that!” I have lots of page like that.

So when you want to try something, just go for it. Give yourself the space to just have fun on the page. Get the feeling of the brush, stick, pencil, or pen in your hand. Feel how it moves across the page. You don’t have to know what you are doing. You can always find a class or a book to help you refine your technique later. But always allow yourself the freedom to shake things up, try something new and get a little messy. You may be pleasantly surprised at the results.