Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Zen and the art of painting with a Chinese ink stick

I had always wanted to try Chinese ink sticks ever since I read Lynda Barry's heartbreakingly beautiful One Hundred Demons. In the book, Lynda gives a short tutorial on how to paint your own demons using a Chinese ink stick and a paintbrush.

Then, earlier this year, I stumbled upon this beautiful video on Etsy featuring the delightful Australian artist Sophie Blackall. I saw her using a Chinese ink stick in the video and I was once again enthralled with the idea of painting with it. The obsession just grew immensely when I bought Sophie's beautifully illustrated Missed Connections. This is probably one of my favourite books ever, with its delicately rendered watercolour illustrations and the various emotions each picture evokes.

Last month, as I was browsing through online art shops for materials to use in my art classes, I spotted Chinese ink sticks and an ink stone in one of the shops. I knew that it was my chance to try my hand at Chinese ink painting.

I have been completely hooked since. These days, I always use Chinese ink as a base wash for my watercolour paintings. It definitely gives the watercolours more depth.


There's something quite therapeutic about grinding an ink stick on the ink stone, which is made from slate. I love how just a tiny amount of ground ink goes a long way.


This is part of a little painting that I made for the Handmade Europe Secret Spring Swap. I'll show the finished work once my swap partner has received it.

Here's a finished painting using Chinese ink and watercolours. Sofia has aptly named it 'Tree House.' :)

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