Bonsai, x 2

Yesterday I had another play with my Indian ink. I knew that I wanted to incorporate some of the interesting effects of introducing the ink to a puddle of water and allowing it to spread, and I also thought that I’d like to put in some strong, bold brushwork.

I was lookiBonsai ink 1ng for something with a strong graphic feel to paint, but drew a blank around the house and garden, so I had a quick browse through our photos. I found a couple of pictures of bonsai which were taken last year in Washington DC at the National Arboretum. The images had high levels of contrast as they were taken in very bright sunlight. The combination of pine foliage and solid trunk seemed to meet the brief.

Both paintings were done on Daler Rowney Aquafine paper, (10x 7 ins) using the Windsor & Newton black Indian ink. I used a large brush to apply water to the foliage areas, and then introduced the ink with a no. 9 round brush. In the first picture I learned a lot very quickly about how the ink behaves in the water and how to make lighter shades. I also tried to put in some rather geometric shadows which were present in the original photo…and then wished I hadn’t.

Painting No. 2 reaped the benefits of what I’d learned in No. 1. I ended up using my two brushes, one clean for applying water and one for applying ink only. I had two pots of water, one for clean water and one to partially clean the inky brush in to achieve lighter tones. And kitchen roll for lifting out for the very light areas. This system seemed to work for me.

The greys were more varieBonsai ink 2d, as I was lifting out the already diluted ink as soon as it was applied to achieve much lighter shades. Using both wet and dry areas gave different textures and allowed me to try to achieve both freedom and control of the ink in the same picture. I really enjoyed ‘drawing’ with the paintbrush, and the varied lines it could achieve.

I’m wondering if these experiments in ink will translate into helping me with watercolours…we shall see.