Watercolors are wonderful. Light fast, easy to transport, to layer, just such a good idea. I love them. But… my heart goes back to ink. I started with ink, when I was so sick I could not shower myself. I started when I needed something to speak for me instead of blood. I was too frozen with perfectionism to make art. But I could still write, poems with my fountain pen. So it was a smaller gap to leap to making art with it, little lines and dashes to sketch the shapes in my mind. Designs I thought were just place holders, capturing images that would later be done properly, at a larger scale, using a ‘real’ medium.
Yet I’ve learned to speak in inks, in snatches, small scale, moments between dreams, rough designs that somehow hold a little of the emotion I felt.
My week has been beautiful, heartbreaking sad, hard, choked. I took some time today to play in my studio, swatching my ink samples. I like to see how they write, how they handle in a brush, how water changes them. It’s unpredictable, colors can split into components, purple may bleed blue or pink, green may blush peach. My favorite ink, the teal I paint in most often is incredibly unusual. A combination of waterproof black and watersoluble blue, the lines stay black but bleed blue when touched with water. It’s spectacular. I’ve been painting with it for many years and I still adore it.
Swatching like this is like learning a little of the language of each colour. Its range of tones and value, how it feels. Some are watery, some oily. Some read almost black at full strength, others never do. When I’m working on a project I can lay these out and see who speaks to me, who pairs well.
Commercializing a creative process is fraught. Business is about something that can be replicated reliably. Finding the right kind of jar to hold a light in that won’t harm it can be such a challenge. There are days and weeks I am still frozen until I tell myself to create for myself and no one else, to make things that are useless for any purpose except the song and the sadness in my own heart.