Controlling the Flow

She spread the pages of her sketchbook, seven pages of paper, out in front of her, and she dipped her pen into the ink well. She pressed the metal nib against the paper and drew. A dark line of ink seeped out. Black blood took shape.

….

Splat!

A blob of ink darted off the nib. She relished ink as a medium. It was dark and unpredictable. The ink would flow exactly how you wanted it until–bam! It disregarded its wielder and did exactly what it wanted. She wanted to be ink in Anson’s pen. He had control over her now, but one day she would overthrow him.

– From my first novel, CHRYSALIS 

Little did I realize how true these words were. Expect for the unpredictable bit. You can predict that ink is not going to do what you want, in fact, it most definitely will do the opposite of what you want.

That is what I love about it. But I’ve learned with one of my more recent art projects that India ink does have its limitations.

 

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“Rose of Notre Dame”. India ink and India ink marker. 2016.

 

The above was my attempt at recreating the rose window at Notre Dame. It’s the second piece that I have done for a former professor of mine, Michael Pogach, who wrote an intense (in the best way) book and did me the honor of asking if I’d be interested in doing some sketches based off his story.

Rose windows in general, and in particular at Notre Dame, are sprinkled throughout the novel. The beauty combined with the technical challenge of the location captured my interest in drawing it.

Though the perspective is skewed, I was pretty pleased with the piece until I got to the stained glass. My brilliant idea was to use my favorite art medium, flowing India ink, to fill in the different shapes and shades of the window.

The process quickly proved to be frustrating. It didn’t matter how much I tried to dilute the ink, it was still dark when I wanted it to be light. Giving the ink time to dry didn’t prevent the ink from bleeding into parts of the drawing where it didn’t belong. In short, what I thought would be an awesome way of capturing the varying degrees of color and brightness turned out to be more of a mud pie. At least in the actual rose part. Some of the saints on the bottom aren’t so bad.

Frustration with the ink meant that I got sloppier, less patient, and less concerned with messing up. The result is a mixed piece of sections that I love, sections that are decent, and sections that I’m really not thrilled with.

But, as always, I’ve learned a lot from this piece. India ink is not a great medium when you are working in small areas and you want to create specific details. Especially if you aren’t patient enough to let it dry.

So now I know. My plan is to redo this drawing in 2017. Make it much larger and buy several colored India ink markers to do the stained glass. Or….just buy colored ink and let it run as it pleases.

That’s a very exciting thought.

Hmmm….

I’ve got time to figure that out. Either way, I’ve learned something about myself as an artist. There are times when I love going with the flow, but there are also times when I need to control the flow. Figuring all that out is all apart of the process.

I think that’s similar to life too, isn’t it? There are times when we can go with the current, times when we want to go with the current but can’t, times when we want to fight against the current but shouldn’t, and times when we must fight against the current.

Do we go with the flow or control the flow?  How do you know when to do what?

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