I really enjoy painting with ink. The brushes, the handmade paper, the smell of the ink, as well as working with a limited pallet are all part of the painting experience. Solely relying on the brush strokes to command and articulate an image is rewarding. Being loose and free is critical when painting in this style - the slightest bit of hesitation shows in the work, and finding your voice can be a challenge. Feeling a sense of freedom and having the confidence to lay down the ink with intent has been and continues to be a challenging yet enriching experience.
I also like to work with different kinds of brushes when painting with ink on paper (traditional Chinese calligraphy brushes and my own handmade mark making tools/brushes) in order to keep things fresh and unexpected. I encourage stepping outside your comfort zone, so as to disrupt your natural movements and inclinations. Doing this has greatly improved my own work with this medium.
It's funny how images from our lives seep into our work in different ways. Images of dragons show up in my work repeatedly. The strength, grandeur and presence that a dragon has and demands is an image that has intrigued me since childhood. Maybe it has to do with the flow of the lines, the visual expression of movement and the feeling I get when painting with ink. Also, I was born in the year of the Dragon (Chinese Zodiac sign) and have always loved the image as depicted in Asian art work.
Finding a way to create images that can stand on their own as a complete and finished work of art when working with this medium is difficult (at least for me). I had an ever growing pile of rejected work. Some paintings were not quite right, but had potential in smaller sections. I decided to take this work and distill the images into 5 X 7 compositions, mounting them to paper. I call them "Small Studies". Now my pile has shrunk and I feel that at least some of the images can live on a bit longer.
In the work pictured above I am working with India ink and painting on both Bamboo (#308) and plain white scroll paper, both of which are available in my store, as are my handmade brushes. The brush is made using jute and golden bamboo. (Click on the picture to see all my handmade brushes).
This process has really been rewarding, I try to let intuition take over and not think too much about each image, but instead work quickly, deciding on the composition while hand tearing each piece of paper. I see the smaller images as they are at that moment and tear, without too much hesitation. Finally, I mount the work to card stock and sign with my name chop. I connect immediately to some of these images and use them as references to push my larger work forward. They influence my composition and help me create better paintings.
If you have never worked with ink, paper and interesting mark making tools...give it a try, it is fun for sure!