Wednesday, September 02, 2009

King Ink

I want to draw in ink again.
A few years ago, I used gel pens and simple, pared down outlines on white archival board to create the first studies of my 2004 enamel series, Self vs Self. I chose gel pens because of the uneven mix of colour particles suspended in the sticky fluid. I traced over the top of them with a glitter pen. The tiny, silvery fragments were barely noticeable but they reflected and enhanced the colour variations.
Recently, I came across a beautiful, traditional, US-manufactured ink with brighter but subtler variations of colour than the gel pens. The magenta is a rich purple that transforms itself into crimson then bright pink at the crisp edge of a line. There's also a rich, venous red, the same colour as my blood; it dries as dark as coagulated trace evidence.
The colour shifts in the inks replicate what I've been trying to achieve with watercolours, except that ink is more precise, even when I draw fast and messy. I bought some old fashioned dip pens so I can splatter the ink a little and experiment with different nib shapes and thicknesses.
I'll exhibit some ink on paper works as well as watercolours for my planned exhibition in Toronto. I want the drawings to be stark, uncluttered but sensuous depictions of arcane rites and sexual practices.
Artists returning to simpler, more traditional media is something of a trend right now. Damien Hirst eschewed assistants to go all brooding, neo-Expressionist in paintings he unveiled earlier this year in Moscow. Brit Art's It Girl, Tracey Emin – who vies for the title with Jay Jopling's ex-missus, Sam Taylor-Wood – recently exhibited pen and ink drawings. They're execrable: scratchy, laboured linework barely concealing a wobbly hand, with figures flattened so clumsily they resembled road-kill, all life (and sex) squashed out of them.
The medium deserves better.


Sarah Lacy said...


No way. A month ago, I lived an hour away. I would have loved to go see your show. Now I'm 1800kms, making it slightly more awkward. I'm so disappointed!

Fingers crossed I'll be visiting family/friends when it happens. I'd love to go see it.

Zom said...

I have been using pen, but the drawing pens. Not as nice as dip I imagine. You don't get the change of line width that you would with dip. I'd love to see how it goes.