InkSplosion – Botanical Ink Paintings!

Brushing up on a favorite medium

I’m back to working with botanical inks again! A new box of them* arrived last month and I’d been eager to use them in some pictures. I considered recording the ‘unboxing‘ and trying them out, but I’m glad I didn’t, for reasons that will become clear…

I don’t know what I was thinking, but I thought it would be a good idea to shake the ink bottle before opening it.

And it was not! The indigo ink foamed like the most appetizing cappuccino ever, and exploded all over my desk (see the crime scene image on the bottom left). I siphoned as much as I could of the ink streaming down my hand into the jar-lid I use as a palette.

I opened a second bottle of a slightly different shade of indigo (without shaking it this time, of course), and it still foamed everywhere! Though not as much. I’m not sure why I opened the second bottle, since I already had a full lid of ink to use. Probably curiosity. Fortunately nothing valuable got splashed.

Anyway, after I washed all the ink off myself, I had a full lid of ink I needed to use before it dried (as best I could). So I canceled all my plans and spent the rest of the evening painting. I made four paintings on the day, and started a fifth that I finished a few days later.

From the top-left, they are:

  • a tree I could see from my window,
  • two attempts at a jar of water I was drinking from, and had put a teabag and leaf-bits into, for the flavor (I think the second one is a bit better in terms of perspective),
  • one Himalayan street from a vacation photo,
  • and one forest in Portland, Oregon.

Feel free to click on any of them to get a more zoomed-in look.

The foaming seems to have to do with the ink having been bottled at a lower temperature. I had four more bottles of ink (I really do love the stuff!) so I refrigerated them before opening, and they caused no mess or disturbance whatsoever. So I guess I learned something!

The first issue I always run into when I start painting after any sort of break is: putting too much paint or ink (and water) on my brush. It’s so tempting to slather the color on and make big, dark marks on paper.

But the detail of the picture always suffers. You can see a bit of that in the first attempt at the jar on the window sill.

It takes a page or so of splashy experiments to rein that craziness in. Every time.

It was fun to get back to this medium! Especially since I’ve been working in watercolor and digital in-between, as well as taking online art courses, here and there. I can sense these activities’ influence on my work.

Anyway, I think I made the most of a silly situation. The InkSplosion left my office/studio smelling a bit inky for a day or two, but at least I got a lot of painting done over a short time!

* BioHue brand. Not sponsored.

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